4 months later we’ve finally taken some updated photos of our new store in Portland! Here you go! Feel free to stop by at 1229 SE Nehalem Street, Wednesday-Friday 12PM-6PM, or Saturdays from 11AM-4PM.

Bee Thinking Store

Bee Thinking from the street.

Bee Thinking Entryway

Looking into the entry way of the store.


Top Bar Hive and Warre Hive
Our most important products: Top Bar Hives and Warre Hives
Top Bar Hive and Warre Hive Accessories

Top Bar Hive and Warre Hive Accessories

More Top Bar Hive Accessories

More Top Bar Hive Accessories


As you may have noticed, our website looks a little different! Over the past couple months we’ve been upgrading it to new software, and about a week ago we went live. So far it’s been working great! Please let us know if you run into any issues.

It’s been a very busy year! In May we moved into our new storefront in the Sellwood neighborhood of southeast Portland, Oregon. Initially we just needed a location at which we could store and ship hives, but we decided to turn it into a small storefront for our products. The response has been fantastic! Portland was clearly in need of a local beekeeping supply shop focused on the ever-growing population of backyard beekeepers! In addition to selling our products, we hold classes there as well! Our next class can be found here: Beekeeping Classes

Here’s a shot of the front of our shop:

Bee Thinking Store

Bee Thinking from the street.

We’ve just realized that this is the only picture we’ve taken of our new shop in the almost 4 months we’ve been there! We’ll make another post this week with some more updated photos.

Last, but not least, all of our top bar hive and Warre hive products are 10% off through September, 15th! If you are looking to start beekeeping in 2012, or if you want to expand your apiary, now is your chance to get a good deal!

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What a year so far! Our bees are doing great and so is business!

Here’s a video of some of our happy Warre, Langstroth and Top Bar Hives in our back yard on February 21st, 2011:

In addition, we’ve been working tirelessly to keep up with the influx of orders we’ve been receiving since December. By the end of the week we expect to have a lot of top bar hives in stock, and by next week we should be caught up entirely with Warre hives! I could not be more excited about the number of beekeepers looking into alternative methods such as Top Bar Hives and Warre hives. Here are some photos of the production process:

FSC Western Red cedar waiting to be turned into bee hives:

Lumber 1

Lumber 2

Assembled Warre hives ready to go!

Warre Hives Complete

Unassembled Warre hives parts, ready to be boxed:

Warre Hive Unassembled

Top bar hives being constructed:

Building Top Bar Hives

Top Bar Hives awaiting packing:

Top Bar Hives for Packing

Top Bar Hives Awaiting shipment:

Top Bar hives awaiting shipment

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As a token of our appreciation to all of our customers for the wonderful year, we are offering10% off all of our products through the end of December! Many of you are looking to buy gifts for your loved ones, or prepare for the 2011 beekeeping season yourselves — now is your opportunity to save!

Thank you all for your continued support as we’ve grown this year from a small hobby in our garage to a streamlined (and streamlining!) business building the finest top bar hive andWarre hive beekeeping equipment in the world!

Visit the store!

Bee Thinking Store

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Queen of the SunI’m excited to say that Queen of the Sun, a film by Taggart Siegel, is opening at the Hollywood Theater this Friday! We’ll be there to answer questions with a top bar hive and a Warre hive on display. In addition, all who attend will have the opportunity to enter into the raffle of one of our top bar hives!

On September 25th at 7:30PM I will be introducing the film, as well as announcing the winner of the hive!

Here’s the official information:

Have you heard the buzz? Bee Thinking is proudly sponsoring “Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?” opening September 17th at the Hollywood Theater!  Queen of the Sun is a profound, alternative look at the global honeybee crisis from Taggart Siegel, award-winning director of The Real Dirt on Farmer John.

When: Opening September 17th @ 7:30 PM & 9:30 PM. Running nightly through October 3rd or longer.

Where: The Hollywood Theatre – 4122 NE Sandy Boulevard Portland, OR 97212

Northwest Earth Institute is proudly introducing the film on Saturday night, September 18th at the 7:70 and 9:30 screenings.


Queen of the Sun is screening in celebration of “Portland Honeybee Week”, beginning September 17th. Mayor Sam Adams will be introducing the 7:30pm screening. After screenings, there will be Q&As with the director Taggart Siegel, producer Jon Betz & local beekeepers on most nights from September 17th to September 25th! Your movie stub will be a raffle ticket for prizes donated by great local businesses!

Come dressed up Saturday the 18th at the 9:30pm showing for a SPECIAL BEE COSTUME CONTEST!  Win great prizes!


On Saturday, September 25 from 1 to 4 p.m the first ever Portland Tour de Hives. This is a free, self-guided tour with stops primarily in NE, SE, and N Portland (biking and walking are encouraged). Registration is required in order to receive the tour map and other information.  Register by September 23 at 5:00 p.m. by e-mailing ”tourdehives@gmail.com“  with your name, phone number, and the number of people in your tour group.

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Trap Outs: As the swarm season dies down, bee removal season picks up when unwitting homeowners notice bees that have taken up residence in their walls, trees, mailboxes or any other cavities they find suitable. Much like swarm removal, one must discerning about trap out selection.

For those who are unaware, a trap out is a method for removing honey bees from a cavity (usually a wall). Rather than cutting the wall open and removing all of the bees and combs, the beekeeper uses a trickery to get the bees out. By sealing up all of the bees entrances but one, and then placing a screen funnel over the last entrance (point facing outward), the bees can move out of the wall but can’t find their way back in.

Once the funnel is in place, the beekeeper hangs or rests a small honey bee colony (ideally queenless with eggs from another colony) next to the funnel. As the bees give up hope on moving back into their wall, they join forces with the colony that has suddenly appeared. After a month or two, all of the bees should be out of the cavity and in your nucleus box.

Here I am doing a trap out in Portland, OR:

Honey bee trap out


Trap outs can be dangerous

Do note that the first couple weeks the bees will almost certainly find new entrances, making it vitally important that you check up on them weekly to ensure the rogue entrances get sealed and the one way exit continues to function properly. Otherwise the process is fruitless.

Once the bees are out of the wall the funnel can be removed and the colony outside now gets the opportunity to go back into the wall to rob out as much honey as possible. If this is during fall, you can bet that the bees will be ravenous for an easy honey source. After a week or two of robbing the hole can be sealed up and you can take your bees home.

This is a time consuming process that can easily go beyond the scope of work that you anticipated. Be sure to consider all of the factors involved with the trap out, such as: access to the property; height of the entrance; number of entrances; methods of sealing the entrances (duct tape, foam, screen, etc.). More than once have I quickly looked at a trap out site, figured it looked easy enough, only to find that it took me 4-5 hours to get the entrances sealed! If it’s high up or difficult to access, be doubly sure that a cut out isn’t a better option for you and the customer.

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What a start to the year these first five months have been! After a Winter of building top bar hives and Warre hives in our small shop and getting our store ready for Spring, never in our wildest dreams could we have been prepared for the outpouring of orders and support we’d receive from our friends, family and customers.

By December I was just barely staying caught up with orders, building hives in my shop for hours after coming home from the office. January made it clear that we needed help, and by February we finally got our wood supplier involved in the construction process. In March, however, the floodgates opened, and we found ourselves with dozens of orders outstanding at any given time. Thankfully our customers have been overwhelmingly understanding of our situation, and we were largely able to get everyone their hives in time for the arrival of their bees.

The last two months have been spent streamlining our construction, order and shipment processes, as well as improving the quality of our products. Today violin maker David Rivinus is part of our team, helping us to design new products and improve on their functional and aesthetic quality. Additionally, beginning in late June, all of our top bar hives and Warre hives and components will be precision crafted at a local mill here in Portland, Oregon. All of our hives will continue to be constructed from locally harvested FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or salvaged Western Red Cedar.

All of our top bar hives and Warre hives will now be constructed using 7/8″-1″ Western Red Cedar using all screw construction and dado/rabbet joints, making for much sturdier and longer lasting products than most of our competitors offer. We have hired a professional photographer to update all of our product photos to reflect the new design of our hives. Stay tuned for the updates.

Due to all of these  positive changes, we are excited to be able to offer the highest quality, competitively priced top bar hives, Warre hives and accessories in the world. In addition, we will have enough hives in stock at any given time to ship them within 3 days after your order. With hive construction taking place at our mill, we will be able to focus our efforts on innovating and adding new products to out top bar and Warre hive lineup in preparation for the holiday season and the rush of activity during the Spring 2011 beekeeping season.

Today we have shipped top bar hives and Warre hives to 38 states, Canada and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. We cannot thank our customers enough for supporting us as we strive to provide the highest quality products and customers service to the world’s foundationless top bar hive and Warre hive beekeeping community!

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After an early, extreme spring warm up, the past few weeks have been very cold and wet. We even covered our tomatoes last night just in case. We have worried, hoping the bees would have enough honey reserves for the extended chill. So far, all seem well enough.

In March Matt had the opportunity to take part in Gunther Hauk’s beekeeping conference at the Portland Waldorf School. We provided the bees at the event in our most thriving Warre hive as seen in the picture below:

Gunther Hauk in Bee Thinking Warre Hive

The unseasonable warmth last month had Matt out catching swarms regularly, 11 or so in total, but we haven’t seen any more or had a call in a couple weeks. We did manage to repopulate some empty hives and get swarms to the first few customers that have ordered from us. (For those who are unaware, we provide swarms to customers as we are able – this is especially helpful for those using Warre and Top Bar Hives!)

Warre Hive Roof Swarm

Swarm on Fence in Oak Grove, OR

We expected that hive orders would pick up in spring, but we never expected how many we would receive! We feel very blessed by all of our customers and folks that have attended our classes and appreciated our products and offerings.  In order to fulfill all of our orders we found need to further streamline our production and have recently partnered with David Rivinus of Rivinus Violins, who has kindly offered his epic artistry and stunning craftsmanship to our hives. We continue to maintain the quality of our hives, and with an eye to the future and with David’s innovative ideas, we have new plans in store for Top Bar and Warre beekeeping.

While it’s been a few months, we thought it would be appropriate to announce on the blog that we have a new more aesthetically pleasing and function leg design on our horizontal top bar hives. Check it out:

Top Bar Hive Legs

While we diligently work to get caught up on outstanding top bar and Warre orders, we want you all to be aware that we also offer hive tools, accessories and protective equipment, making us your one-stop shop for foundationless beekeeping supplies! In addition, we are now one of the first suppliers (if not the first) to offer Abbe Warre’s book “Beekeeping for All,” in print form. Please contact us if you would like to purchase it immediately, or It will be available on our website in the near future.

Next week my dear sister and brother in law will be here, visiting from Texas and we are so excited;  January through April has been non-stop busyness. We are exhausted, and ready for the bees to sort themselves out for the summer.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, and to the dear queens of the hives!

Jill (and Matt)

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Spring! Too early. At least two weeks too early as evidenced by the bustle of the bees and the grape vines at my day job. Daffodils and Crocus are long since up, and the cherries are blooming actively… in February! We have seen pollen on many bee legs for the last three weeks. It will most certainly be an interesting growing season.

Early spring has found us cleaning out dead hives, checking on thriving ones, finally finishing our honey processing, and hosting basic bee keeping classes. I can’t believe I’m going to say it but, we actually could have used an extra two weeks of winter to catch our breath before bee season. However, here we are. Our dog, Polly, is completely happy with the early spring, as it means that not only does she get more time outside, but her feet need less wiping before she comes in!

We have our first retail honey customer! Immortal Pie & Larder in Portland, Oregon placed an order for twelve, eight-ounce jars of Bee Thinking honey. The order kept me busy conceiving of initial packaging, and sourcing jars. I am very happy with how it they turned out, as I came up with something eye catching. (I know our customers will be happy when the taste the delicious honey sourced from our hives, all located on organic sites and from foundationless hives. As you can see, I’m very proud of our bees, hives and honey!)

[readon1 url="http://immortalpie.blogspot.com"]Visit Immortal Pie and Larder[/readon1]

Honey Sold to Immortal Pie Company

Matt has spent a lot of time building out the store portion of our website. In addition to Top Bar and Warre hives, we are now selling smokers, jackets, hive tools and other bee keeping basics making us a one stop shop for foundationless beekeeping supplies![readon1 url="/store"]Visit the Store[/readon1]

Despite the needs and activity of spring knocking on our doors, I know Matt and I could most certainly use a long, quiet, private and very relaxing vacation…


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