2016 A Year To Forget

I’m back. I have been away from the blog world for a while. 2015 was not a good year personally or bee-wise. At the moment it is snowing, so not a lot to talk about regarding the bees.

Hives in Snow, Brookfield Farm, Maple Falls, WA 2016

Please do not say “let it snow”


My last post was in April, which happens to be the month that my husband was diagnosed with ALS, aka: Lou Gehrig’s Disease.




Ian makes furniture, Sally watches

Ian makes furniture, Sally keeps watch watch

He died in September, 5 months later, almost to the day.

ALS It’s Not Pretty

ALS is a nasty disease where the muscles stop “listening” to the nerves. Medical science does not know how the disease functions, nor do they have any way to treat it. I will always be grateful to the help and support of the local ALS Society during this time.

The disease takes different people in different ways. Ian lost his fine motor control (finger movements) and slowly the ability to speak. In the end he just stopped breathing. He was able to stay at home until 2 ½ weeks before his death, in hospice. Although his life was short, he did get to live the life he wanted to live, and how many of us can say that?

Neglected Bees

Due to the issues surrounding a partner who is dying I admittedly did not pay enough attention to the bees.

Hives that needed to be split were not.

Russian Queen Disaster – and not from nature

Hives that were split in expectation of 10 Russians queens had to be remerge when the queen supplier neglected to tape the queen cage holder into the box. The queens arrived scattered on the floor of the box, none survived. Neither the supplier nor the shipping company refunded the money, each blaming the other. So I got to pay for dead queens.

I raised no queens this year either, for obvious reasons. Time was always at a loss.

Bears I Can Forgive, Human Thieves I Cannot

Then the crowning hit: I had 20 hives in an outlying bee yard. They’ve been fine for years. I had set the bees for winter: 70 lbs honey each, all with mite away quick strips for the proscribed time and then removed, all with their essential oil sugar patty on their top bars, insulation under their tops. Then disaster in the form of human thieves hit:

First the solar charger/panel which powers the bear fence was stolen

Then they came back and stole honey.
Sadly they were probably beekeepers In some cases entire supers were removed. In others select frames were taken.|In all cases the tops were left on the ground. It rains here, a lot. When I got there I found dead bees in wet hives.

Wishing Everyone A Wonderful 2017

In all 2016 is a year I will chose to forget. But solstice has passed and to me that marks the new year’s beginning. So I’ll end with best wishes to everyone in 2017. May the new year bring great joys and new, positive, adventures. Happy Days from all of us at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, Maple Falls, Washington:

From the Livestock Guard Dogs:

Brookfield Farm Livestock Guard Dog

Protecting from bears, cougars, coyotes

Livestock Guard Dog Brookfield Farm, Maple Falls, WA

Livestock Guard Dog as Road Block to Goats


Snow dog Brookfield Farm, WA

The pet who walks the 1.5 mile round trip with me.


Cashmere and Saanen kids

Down the Road and Through The Trees

May your holiday meals have been as tasty as the goats found theirs.

They do love their trees

They do love their trees


Wishing you a happy 2017 from all of us at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, Maple Falls, Washington.

Hive in Snow, Brookfield Farm, WA 2016

About Bean

I am the beekeeper at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, near Maple Falls, Washington. My bees fly from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives in the foothills of Mt. Baker (the second most glaciated volcano in Washington). I sell the raw honey my bees make, as well as honey produced by Washington beekeepers who are friends - the emphasis is on raw honey from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives. I also make and sell Beeswax Salves. You can find me at the Ballard Farmers' Market in Seattle on Sundays from 10-3. When not with the bees, you'll most likely meet me up some mountain trail, pinhole camera and digital camera slung over my shoulders, and my pack goats trailing behind me.
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9 Responses to 2016 A Year To Forget

  1. Laura Gunion says:

    I just came across your site as I was looking for other small cell beekeepers in Washington. I read your recent post. Many condolences for the loss of your husband. I can’t even begin to know how that might feel.
    I noticed that you recognize Solstice as the end of the year. Me too. I am experimenting with Solstice – Early Feb being liminal, in-between, dreaming space, and early Feb being the beginning of the next year. Maybe you might like that too.

    No need to respond, just wanted to reach out and let you know that your heartfelt words have been read.

    • Bean says:

      Hi Laura – thank you for your kind words. Mid Feb certainly seems like the beginning of the bee year here. We usually have that nice warm spell then: the first time one can really check the hives.

  2. Gerald Kern says:

    Hi Karen,

    So sorry to hear about your husband! I’ve been caught up with my problems this past year also. I’ve been operated on and going to start treatment for my agent orange cancer shortly. My bees have gone away, but hopefully I can start again this Spring. If you would like to have a cup of coffee sometime, please let me know. My treat.

    Hopefully this will be a great year for you!

    • Bean says:

      Thank you Jerry. Best wishes on the fight against agent orange cancer. Coffee, yes – when the snow melts, I’m doing chains and 4-wheel drive in low 4 to go in and out right now…a sheet of ice on these hills. I am so done with this winter.

  3. Susan Morgan says:

    Karen, I am so, so sorry to hear this news about Ian. What good memories I have of you two and the farm. And it would be okay with us if you sent some of that snow this way…

    Many blessings to you and the critters.

    • Bean says:

      You can have all the snow. I am sooo tired of digging out the truck then having another foot or two of snow fall on it. The one thing I can say: Getting through this winter alone is very self-affirming.

  4. Justina Juday says:

    I’m visiting grandkids in
    Washington . Anacortes, is very beautiful . We are from Michigan. I really liked her honey and I looked it up and believe it was from your farm.
    I read your 2016 year to forget.
    I’m broken hearted for your with the devastating loss of your husband and the terrible heartless thieves in your time of horror and loss!!!
    I will pray that God helps you and shows you His Love for you!
    Very touched by your story.
    Justina Juday

  5. Richard Perez says:

    Oh My God, I’ve found you! Karen, this is Richard who juiced for you many years ago in Los Angeles. I found a post card you sent a long time ago asking if I was still alive, well after many years of putting it off(that is, searching you out) I did it and here you are!! I have so many things to talk to you about, but not in this forum. I’m sure many people are curious ,but let them guess. I’ve missed you so much!! I’m so impressed on your accomplishments in your life, and am very sorry for your loss Karen. Please reach me at my email, I so much want to hear from you! Oh, Ducks Rule (the cartoon ones, not the sports affiliated ones)
    Lots and Lots of LOVE,

    • Bean says:

      Hi Richard how amazing to hear from you – I’ve sent you an email, but I can also be reached though the contact stuff at PacificNorthwestHoney.com Yes a different life that requires me to prep equipment, load and unload trucks, and make sure my crews are treated properly (ok, the crews are really tiny and have 6 legs) — not unlike my previous existence….

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