131. Beekeeping Education | Tamarack Apiaries | Lisa Foley | Kalispell, MT

Lisa Foley from Kalispell, MT is here to tell us about her new beekeeping education and supply business. What I love about Tamarack Apiaries is that they are really focused on the environment and helping the people who purchase their hives be successful. They don’t just sell you bees and send you packing they help with everything from setting up the hive …

Today’s guest is a business near me, in the Flathead Valley, but it might inspire you to create a similar business or find a local business like it. (If you don’t know a Tamarack is a western larch tree here in Montana that’s very beautiful.) Mike and I lost a hive this spring and I can testify that there’s a lot of parts and pieces, things you need to do right, having someone there that can be a resource, is a great thing, for the Flathead Vaelly and will be successful because they care about the environment and what happens to the bees.

Especially, I so disappointed our bees were all just buzzing a couple of weeks ago, and then all of a sudden one hive just died. So I am gonna have some questions. I am excited to introduce Lisa Foley!

Tell us a little about yourself.

We are a new business here in Kalisepll, MT, it started a little over a year ago, about a year and a half ago. My husband asked me should we get some bees, put them in the backyard?

Well, yeah let’s do!

Here we are, we have 6 hives ourselves, a store, we have gone up and down, the nature of bees, they will die, we’ve tried some experimental thing. We’re also on the learning curve ourselves. But …

We are very very passionate on bees.

And helping people get over the hurdles

and looking in an open minded way and maybe what is common, industry is telling us.

I always tell guests that sometime people who are hesitant on the show, newer gardeners the lessons are fresher in their memory, just like when I started teaching it was sometimes to have a younger mentor because the experiences were fresher in to them. I love how you’re going out there and educating people and doing it as a full time mom with a large family at home!

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

No, I have gardened myself since before I can remember, my mother tells stories of when I was a little toddler, she says don’t you remember gardening with me? I don’t remember. But at different times I asked can I have my own garden spot

i come from a family of gardeners, my dad’s family primarily, every single one of his siblings and his mother, they are all gardeners, and when i go visit one of my uncles  or aunts I know where eI am because they all have this big garden!

How did you learn how to garden organically?

Mostly from my family. My dad and my mom both garden, my mom’s more the flower gardener and does some vegetables, my dad’s the vegetable gardener and does everything as natural or organic as he can. Trial and error there, we all have experiences.I don’t put anything in my garden where I don’t put anything in my garden that I don’t know what it is. I try to buy my plants and seeds the same way, so I know who started it and how they do it. Cause moving to the Flathead Valley, I’ve been luckyI’ve connected with a few local people and I know how to do it, and we;ve placed orders together.

in the Flathead

stronger network with that aspect then were I came from.

We were just actually at this seed fair together and we didn’t even get a chance to meet because there was just this giant huge event and resergence of people who were excited to garden. So way to go being a visionary to help those gardeners.

We actually filed out paper work and officially started our business last summer. We still had things to get put together.

So we waited until late winter. We opened people who need bees get those packages ordered, get our store functional so that we had people going into that first part of the bee-keeping year,

april may

everybody we’ve been talking to is

happy we’re here!

being a store and a service industry. We just saw the need everywhere, everybody we talked to that’s in bees, or knew someone who knew someone with bees, complaining about the lack of resources in our area


educators are almost non-existent! So we said, we could do this.

We’ve studied hard and heavy the last year and half, on you tube, and talking to other bee keepers in our area, so what we don’t know through our own experience and hopefully other bee keepers,

There is a great bee keeping group that meets in Columbia Falls each month, but for me it’s just impractical. If there was a place while you’re in the Flathead on your shopping day to be able to go in the store.

Anything Bee

Well, our official name is Tamarack Apiaries

the bee store

make that start of our store

We are the Bee Store,

everything bee

well in a nut shell

“anything bee”

we of course took orders for packaged bees

our bees that we are raising home, raise bees that are hardy for our area, and then in a few years from now we hope to sell local raised bees, local bred and raised bees, trying to be treatment free and get them healthy and strong for our area. That’s what we hope to add to this.

Then our store itself sells anything that you might need to keep your bees whatever you choose

  • hive boxes
  • frames,
  • tools
  • smokers
  • bee suits
  • local crafters who make things out of bees wax
  • local honey

Our inventory will just keep growing as we stay open and grow. Anything bee we hope to offer. We also hope to offer classes, we have a large room.

Beekeeping Education

We have been asked over and over and over if we would do bee classes!

  • beginning course our knowledge
  • guest speakers

Offer , teaching people what we know and also bring in guest speakers who can teach from a different point of view or target a certain topic

hoping to have our first class at the Seed Fair.

would be similar to our

we were both go up and do that

good thing we could split ourselves

his workshop was so full

people on the floor, between the seats, standing on the wall,


The biggest complaint at the door, was you didn’t plan for enough work. I really can’t claim any help getting it going, I just showed up and helped Pam at the door. I told my husband maybe 2-300 people, by 10 o’clock before it opened all 500 fliers we had were gone! Because people wanted in the rooms before it started!

We’re hoping to have, we haven’t pinned down dates yet, get that advertised

offer anotehr class similar to that on basic beginning beekeeping

In a facility that allows more time

workshop itself, there were lots and lots of people that had questions, that couldn’t fit it in that time , and asked my husband after and the room had to get emptied out. So we see this is something people need more of.

store we’re happy to answer questions. Talk about their experiences

palce for people can talk bees

with us or with each other

wont’ work in the day to day all the time

if we’re busy of course time will be short

many come in already…

some people were beekeepers

want to learn more first

what should they be reading or looking

Where is the store?

the store is right by Woodland Park across from the

years and years it was Kay boutique…

there’s lots of parking, side streets, etc. There’s lots of parking around you can walk over from the park.

Ask questions, take about your experiences,

we hope place will be a place where people can come talk about bees.

We enjoy that and welcome it. We have had a lot already come in and share.

Some people are new to beekeeping and wondering wbout what

Let’s start there what do people want to start with?

What do people want to start with

A simple recommendation, if you’re a beginner bee keeper its best to start with 2 hives.

Why 2? Then you can compare one with the other

if one is not doing well,

if for some reason one of your hives dies. your queen dies, or something.

you have a second hive you can borrow from, you can reckon your hive, you can add brood

you’re success rate will be better if you have 2 hives.

Well 2 hives? Everybody asks. Cost is a variable thing. Bee bee keeping can be as inexpensive you want if you have have the skills to make it yourself

on our website we’re adding a diy page

it will go through some simple things where people can do it yourself

we have found

trying to do treatment free ourselves.

everybody has their own

share info if you

if you need guidance we can teach you how were doing… the pros and cons of how we are doing it…

Jacqueline Freeman was just on talking about treatment free beekeeping. And Heather Wood is starting a beekeeping podcast. She was my Earth Day Guest last year. She has a bee sanctuary  in Olympia, WA. I like that because Mike really wants to go that way, and I told him but what about these Veroa Mites… You’re website I just have to suggest, or remember, there’s some great honey recipes on your website!! Think about the total novice, which is kind of me, there’s frames you have to get, there’s supers or deeps, I know one time I ordered the wrong deeps?  

We try to council beginning beekeepers

don’t get more confusing

it sounds like a lot

keep it simple, focus on the big things and keep the other things simple.

Basic start up of a  hive…

The Langstroths Model Hive.

There’s other hives, theres a few different style of hives. Primarily, all we have in our store currently is a Langstroth’s  box with a insert frame. Which a great book to read by the way.

LangstrothsHiveHoneyBee Langstroth’s Hive and the Honeybee.

I think there is a misconception that boxes were designed for commercial use. It was such a good design.  But it was designed for home and hobby bee keepers, and it was just that the commercial industry was able to take it and tweak it a few times and it was designed so well, that the commercial we’ve see everywhere

We recommend they read that book before they read to much or watch to much other places, it covers basic reasoning, and health and habit of the bees .

Cool, because the only book we have is beekeeping for dummies. which has been good, it was definitely my favorite was why I bought it. 

So back to that hive.

To start off you need 2 boxes. We call them brood. and they hold deeps.

In simplifying everthing

we call them deep and frames for the deeps, f you come in and say deeps we’ll know what you’re talking about.

hone supers and mediums go on top

that’s where the

the bigger boxes is where the queen resides and lays her eggs. You need at least 2.

We have a hobby starter kit.

brood chamber kit, 2 of those chambers, bottom board you’re top cover. Everything you need to get started

The next one adds 2 boxes to that to get more room.

We have found a way that makes it simpler for those who are

  • agile
  • elderly
  • women

it’s all medium

keep everything simplified

all are the same size

smaller and lighter weights

without those heavier ones

something we have learned about, and it’s just a really

nice idea

for some people

it can be as simple or as complicated

they don’t care what size box you give them

As far as up or down, side to side, they don’t care what size that space is, the box itself. You can change it up a little to fit what you need. If you want to build your own there are plans.

the frames

this is where it gets complicated

The frames for the box, 4 sided frames, WE have people come in all the time.

“I read about with foundation?”

The foundation is the plastic preprinted pattern coated in beeswax and the bees draw it out. So their honeycomb to that pattern.

Or foundation-less bees do their own thing… kind of what you would

4 sides and frame that is removable

We have examples in our store and we show people. You can have this or this

we’ve done both and our hive

coming into the store

Brand new equipment.

you get to see hands-on

there are parts in there

where we can show people

Every body I talk to I encourage Everybody I know I say if you have any questions.

if you have equipment bring it in,

A gentleman who had bees 15 years ago, looked through it and figured out what he could keep and what he needed to replace and he was happy he got to use a lot of it.

didn’t catch

brought it in and

counciled him along the lines of what was usable

I’ve always integrated flowers, not all the time is the garden blooming, but if I have flowers in there its more appealing to me but it also attracks polinators, even if theres nothing in there for them blooming yet.

as I learn more I am planting more bee friendly plants

I have chives,

I dig up and haul with me if I move

last year it was our first time bees had been on this property

plum trees lining the property between us and the neighbors, and the branches on the plum trees were down o the ground. They were so heavy with plums. And Because of the pollinators.

i have never seen

my garden did phenomenal

primarily because of the bees between the flowers.

I got a lot of chive seeds this year to plant, because that’s where they go, and then are some of the first ones to come up, and the bloom for a long time.  

If you trim off the faded flowers…

I love chives, I use them in my cooking

yes they offer a lot to bees and other pollinators that come into the garden.

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

Unfortunately , this year, I’m not going to try to do much of a garden, they year I’m focusing more,  taking out my perennials and get ready to move. Because the owner of the property where we’re living won’t be a residence much longer. I’m not leaving my perennials to get plowed under.

Pots are way harder, they run out of water so often and you spend ll your time keeping them watered. The one thing I really like about perennials, is that they would double and multiple more.

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.

I think I don’t really care for weeding…

U do try doing a heavy mulch

take a few hours to go out and weed the garden just really is something that I don’t do, I try to weed in the garden, every once in a while things get away from me if I don’t mulch.

I think that’s what a lot of people are like, a little bit of weeding is ok, but if it gets away from us! Yikes!

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

Oh, I love the planting of the seeds, the “magic” I call it “magic”

you plant this little seed and then you have a plant! I have been my whole life, I’m 38, I’m still always amazed.

I take the kids outside, and you plant the seeds, and you go out in water and then you get a plant!

What is the best gardening advice you have  ever received?

So much out there, that could be the best gardening advice, but IDK,, i tell people engineer gardeners that talked to me

everybody should have a garden, you don’t have to have a half acre garden!

even in you front garden

I’ve grown tomatoes and peppers in my front flower bed.

someone asked me what’s that little plant it’s really cool, I told them it’s zuchini, and they said No Way! I said it absolutely is!

You can get overwhelmed! I’m notorious for bringing home a ton of plants and being like look at these that were on sale today.

I think people don’t realize that vegetables look very attractive

put some flowers in amongst it

they don’t think they Oh that woman has a vegetable garden in front of their house, they think oh how cool is that I want one!

I think I had a guest on recently might have Been Jacqueline Freeman who said if you let your vegetables grow they make some cool flowers! 

yeah I haven’t done it on purpose very often it does change how you see it!

And it’s good for harvesting some seeds too!

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

I thought about that a little bit, and I actually have moved several times,

I ahven’t had to limit myself with one tool

I have gardened many times with just a spade and a rake.

You dig up your spot and turn your soil over, clumps are broken up

if your soil is workable  of course, I’ve been places where the soil is so heavy .

We have very clayey soil here, we usually have to add compost and things to make it more fertile. 

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden one of those great ones from your website with the honey in them?

I am a home mom for the most part, of course we’ve got the bee store going on. I cook most of our meals myself. Most are from raw or semi-raw canned. I love everything. But every year my garden started off with salsa ingredients, that’s where my list starts.

  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • jalepenos

I think it’s really good to think, what are you really gonna eat, what do you buy anyway, that you buy a lot.

Salsa you can buy at the store. What do you buy every week? It’s very satisfying when you put those jars away yourself.

And there’s nothing like popping a lid off a jar in the middle of winter and say I grew this myself. Mike cans all sorts of things. We just opened a jar of beets the other night!

A favorite internet resource?

There’s so much on the internet

I really have a hard time

with our bee keeping journey, because this is just growing on its own and keeping up with it.

When people come in the store we send them here, on youtube

fatbeeman.com, he’s all about bees, nothing gardening.

  • he has a commercial end,
  • at the end of his stuff, but his videos are all on completely beekeeping at home, ways to do things without the big equipment
  • someone who wants to make their own

He’s a wealth of information

there’s another one we just stumbled on

Tim Ives… he does beekeeping differently then everyone else we’ve seen. Another term we’ve heard are mega hives

these hives get to be 3-4 brood supers on top.

9-12 honey supers on top

huge and strong he’s able to stay treatment free because there’s so many of them, they’re more healthy, vibrant, we’re really impressed with it so we’re trying that this year.

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

LangstrothsHiveHoneyBeeHive and the Honeybee by  LL Langstroth’s

there’s a lot reading out there about bee keeping and gardening

only bee keeping books on it so far

there are so many we get overwhelmed

let me double check the


the American Bee Journal the Beekeepers companion

all about bees, different topics… explaining why and how and everything related to beekeeping…  Mother Earth NewsHobby Farms and farm life in general, cover beekeeping, chicken keeping, goats, a lot of different topics.

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?

Well, for us, this was something that developed without us really having such a big goal. We knew for a while we were gonna open a bee supply store, but since opening, it already is change in how far it is going to go, now we’re going to be offering classes

if the service part was gonna be there, originally. We weren’t sure how it would work, we were approached by other people, we were approached by a gentleman last summer, who has a home on the flathead lake, he doesn’t live here, but he wants to have bees here. And he asked,”Would you guys come and take care of your bees?”

So we looked and it’s actually a niche market heavy on the East Coast

and talked to people, so we developed our own business plan

following Montana’s regulations on beekeeping

put together that way…

buisness advice

something my husband and I are very passionate about, we are learning what we can

every time something new comes up, we both research and share info

end up reading or watching what the other one did to understand it together and we have an advantage there, because we work as a team and we’re not someone on their own.

Do you want to talk a little more about that, I think we talked about that in the pre-chat and not on the air. 

This gentleman approached us, about doing it. So we looked into. So we formed this service end, where if somebody’s nervous about working with their bees, but they want them, and they want someone around who is more comfortable with bees, we can come out, and kind of teach them look what to look for. It’s sort of a mentorship/service, we’ll come out and do that,  it’s at a small fee, but we will definitely work side by side with you.

Another gal is gonna be out of town frequently she asked if she has to be out of town,  during the strong netar flow, she doesn’t want her bees to suffer, so she wanted to know if we can come out and add boxes at the right time. There are all sorts of needs people might have if they wants someone to come.

Also helping people diagnose what is wrong if there is a problem down the line.

talked with Cam Lay to the Montana State Inspector helped guide through a few things we weren’t sure on how to understand some of Montana laws. And I’m sure will continue to be helpful as we grow,

and it will be a service that offers those who want to have bees but maybe aren’t comfortable with.

Final question- 

if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

Something that we are going to be doing is educating the children in our neighborhood about the Benefits of bees. Because a lot of people have the perception that bees are bad and they sting you and they hurt and it’s a misconception.

We want to get kids involved and teach them what honeybees do, and the difference between bees, and wasps and hornets. They’re all different. They’re all beneficial but were just focusing on the honey bee and we think education is key. If we start with the children!

Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

Oh the dirt! Dirt is magic!

Every body should just plant a little something.

I saw the cutest kid at school yesterday with the little green john deer shirt, that said something like you have to get in the dirt everyday or something. Especially Mike has a John Deere backhoe.

 I have a little sign, I put out in the

Garden There’s Magic in the Dirt

that’s how I feel,

other beginning gardening

I love gardening

i call it a disease in me

if I do get bit, I’ll be gardening after all.

How do we connect with you?

Stop by our store at 430 Conrad Drive right across from Woodland Park, at the end of the park where the ducks and geese are.


Our website is loaded with stuff! We will be in Whitefish at Depot Park on Earth day! That’s the next thing. I’m so glad that Whitefish is celebrating Earth Day this year!

I do hope to see or talk to people at the store or on the phone!

Store phone # 406-260-0563

430 Conrad Drive right across from Woodland Park


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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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