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How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch - Bring on the Bees!

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6/24/2023, By Julie Van Hise

Hahahahaha. Done....right??? Is there ever a "done" to the ranch? Well, as far as critters go, we determined we needed just one more thing...

Hi! I'm Julie Van Hise. My husband, Chris, and I are 1st generation ranchers and owners of 4 Bear Ranch - a ranch that not only provides for our family but provides for the local community as well. In 2017, we bought our home unknowing of what it would transform into in 4 short years. From mountain wilderness to mountain ranch wilderness - we have lovingly worked hard in building our dream! How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch? It's actually kind of strange really...we were so close to completing our vision for the ranch, but we needed one more thing...the tiniest of creatures we are caretakers for...the honey bees!!!

The honey bees have been an amazing adventure, one that I didn't think I would enjoy as much as I do. These little creatures are fascinating. However, it is very difficult to keep bees in Montana - there are a lot of natural challenges out there such as bears, heat, drought, and cold. However, year after year, whether we get honey or not, the impact of the bees doing their work on our land is amazing. We have better crops of saskatoon (service) berries, wild flowers, and in the garden and orchard.

We started with one nucleus package with a queen, and this past year just got 2 packages. We were soooo very close to having our first set of bees make it through the winter, but it just didn't happen. We learn each year on different things that could potentially help our bees survive the harsh cold. Hopefully next winter we are successful. The old bees did leave the new bees a present though - pretty good comb and a jump start of honey - maybe we will get honey this year...maybe!

With these little creatures we complete the addition of critters to the ranch...for now what? We have the animals, now what do we do? Well, we decided to become a ranch!

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