About

romanbeekeeper foxbeekeeper

Ofbees.com is run by Foxfeather R. Zenkova and Roman Zenka, who live on a small farm in southern Minnesota. We have been beekeeping since 2012, and our goal is to provide information and share our journey of beekeeping, so you can learn along with us and support these amazing little pollinators doing their ever-important jobs!

At Foxloft Farm Apiary we are committed to natural beekeeping. What does this mean?

  • We love bees! We really do. We're pretty obsessed. Many of our conversations turn to bees, we go on and on about them to everyone who will listen. We liked bees when we first got them, but having been privileged to work with them has turned that like into a genuine passion. Bees are absolutely incredible, and the more we learn and experience, the more our fondness for these little ladies grows! Bees are amazing!
  • We are not a commercial honey operation. This allows us the flexibility to follow what we consider 'best practices' - doing things that are best for the bees, not for profiting from maximum honey production. We never take any honey stores necessary for the bees to survive winter away (it takes a colony about 100lbs of stored honey to survive our long winter!). We never take away honey to feed a sugar syrup or other food. We do occasionally supplement new colonies in the spring with sugar syrup, if they are just getting started (it is too risky to give them honey from another hive because of possible disease or parasite transfer). We have, so far, not made any profit from our beginning apiary project, but if and when we do, the funds will be invested back into growing and maintaining the apiaries between our two sites and supporting native prairie restoration efforts on our 98 acres of farm.
  • We do not use anti-biotics, preventative medications, or chemical treatments in our hives. Bees are facing many issues today, some of the largest including exposure to pesticides, loss of food and habitat, and overly aggressive parasite problems. These issues combine to create large problems which, in the past, have been historically dealt with through regimes of treatment of the hives (anti-fungal and anti-biotic medications, anti-parasitic treatments, etc).
    A large, growing movement has shown that this is a temporary patch causing more problems long term than what it solves. We strongly believe that the bees need to be given a chance to deal with many of these issues on their own and evolve ways of handling parasites and disease. There are many amazing people working to breed bees with specific behaviors (grooming away mites or destroying disease-infected brood, for example) and to move in this direction. We have invested in queens proven to exhibit these natural behaviors (which help cut down necessary external treatments of the hive) to allow the bees to come up with the best ways to deal with these issues themselves. We do, on occasion, have to help the bees deal with mite loads. We use only non-chemical (manual) methods and natural plant oils to help deal with mites. At this time, there is no option to do absolutely nothing or the mites will build up to such levels the colony will perish. We are doing everything we can to keep up on natural, organic beekeeping options and working with breeders producing mite-resistant stock.
    This means no chemical contamination of your honey, our bees, their wax or the hive!
  • We are working towards using and developing our own local bees, best suited to our area and climate. Most honeybees are bred in California or Georgia on large farms which ship out packages of bees to customers across the country. These bees are not necessarily the best suited to our unique (and harsh) Minnesota climate. We are working with local beekeepers in the north to develop bees which will thrive on our location and become less dependent on out of state sources.
  • We are trying to further our education about bees and beekeeping. We are taking yearly courses at the University of Minnesota Bee lab as well as reading voraciously everything we can about beekeeping. We are trying to learn as much as we can and experiment with different methods of beekeeping in an effort to find out what is best for us and our bees!
  • We also care about and host native bees! Bees native to the U.S. and our area in particular (like the blue orchard mason bee and the bumblebee) need help too - they are suffering in particular from a lack of nesting habitat and floral diversity. We are putting up bee houses specifically to host these species and restoring native prairie to help create pollination corridors in our area. Though these native bees don't produce honey, they offer incredible pollination services and can pollinate many plants that honeybees cannot.
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