Hives on high: Microspec Corporation adds beehives to its roof

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Microspec Corporation in Peterborough installed three beehives on the roof of its offices on Monday morning. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/23/2019 7:14:05 PM

Peterborough’s Microspec Corporation added some productive new workers this week – about 30,000 honeybees.

On Monday, the medical manufacturer installed three beehives of Italian honeybees onto its roof. The hives will be cared for by a group of employees, three of whom are experienced beekeepers, and others who are just interested in learning the trade.

“Anything you can do to get new beekeepers is a good thing, it really is,” said Microspec employee Chris Stewart of Rindge, who raises his own bees. “The more you learn about bees, the more fascinating they are.”

Fellow beekeeper Pete Davison of Antrim agreed, saying he takes any opportunity to act as an ambassador for bees since they can make some people wary.

“This is an incredibly valuable little insect,” Davison said. “Without pollination, there wouldn’t be a lot to eat around here. It’s very grim if you take the honeybee out of the equation.”

Tim Steele, owner of Microspec Corporation, said he has been interested in bees since he was a teenager when he started several hives as a 4-H project. He raised bees from the time he was 12 until he went to college. He had as many as 18 hives at the height of his hobby.

“I found it fascinating at the time,” Steele said.

Steele also took an academic interest in his beekeeping, studying queen egg laying habits and flight habits for school projects. He said he’d like to carry that academic observation into the keeping of the Microspec hives. In particular, he said, he’d like to see if the hives fare better when they’re placed on the roof, as opposed to the ground when it comes to averting disasters like colony collapse disorder.

Colony collapse is a huge concern for beekeepers, who can lose half their hives annually, with entire hives leaving their queen for no known reason. While there have always been reports of the phenomenon, it’s become increasingly more prevalent since 2006 – twice the previous reported losses becoming the norm.

Though there hasn’t been any one particular cause attributed to colony collapse disorder, there are several theories, including infections of mites or pathogens. Steele said he’s interested to see if the hives, off the ground and at reduced risk for mites, have a better survival rate.

But generally, he said, he wants the hives to help interested employees learn about the practice.

“It’s so fascinating to know how the bees work,” said employee Tammy Elliott of Jaffrey.

Elliott has been in charge of another “green” project at Microspec: The company garden, which grows a variety of vegetables for employees to take home with them. The hives will be a companion project, hopefully helping to pollinate the garden, but she’s also interested in learning apiary skills for their own sake, she said.

The hives will host colonies of Italian honeybees, which are a popular choice among beekeepers. The most aggressive species of bee make the most honey, explained Davison, and Italian bees tend to be a good mix of good honey producers, while not being too aggressive to handle even for new beekeepers, and are hearty enough for a New Hampshire winter.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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