Blake Brimhall, Bee Right Back Bees


Blake Brimhall, Bee Right Back Bees

Idaho Falls is about to have a lot more pollinators with the hard work of dedicated and skilled retired soldier Blake Brimhall. With an Army career spanning over 30 years, he served in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations.
After years of specializing in air defense throughout the world, he went from focusing on THAAD and Patriot missile defense systems to developing his own much smaller (and honey-producing) venomous objects-in-flight program.
While starting his retirement in Hawaii, his wife encouraged him to find a hobby. Blake began studying YouTube videos on beekeeping and along with his son’s encouragement, he’s gone from attempting to catch a wild swarm of bees in Hawaii to successfully maintaining multiple hives outside of his present home in the Gem State’s southeastern corner.

In the spring of 2021, he built eight hives, and in order to keep costs down, constructed nearly all of them from recycled shipping material.

“When we moved here all our items came in crates and they were going to throw them away,” Blake said. “I said, ‘Whoa! Lemme keep them crates!’ I broke all the crates down and kept the quarter-inch plywood. So my first year I built all my hives and frames.”

He started with a variety of types of bees: local, Italian, Carniolan and Saskatraz. The first and second winters were hard, and he lost five hives.

The third winter brought another loss in the form of the dreaded mite. While he’s traditionally found oxalic acid vaporization treatments to be effective, the cold weather created a barrier with its success.

The Idaho winters bring long deep freezes, copious amounts of snowfall, and with those fluctuations, humidity challenges. Each heartache brought with it a new valuable lesson: Certain hive designs work best in particular applications.

Slight adaptations like using a wool pillow for sudden temperature drops can help, he said. Using Hive Alive fondant can support colony health. And finding the effective timing for mite treatment.

With three years of beekeeping under his belt, the next goal is to eventually start marketing honey to his local community under the Homegrown By Heroes program.
“I can’t say I ever really thought I would be a beekeeper, but the more I keep bees the more I love them,” he said.
Encouraged to apply to the Fellowship Fund program by a learning module in Dr. Adam Ingrao’s Heroes to Hives program, he’s pleased to be continuing to pursue this journey.

Before becoming a recipient of the Fellowship Fund program Blake wasn’t sure he was going to continue beekeeping.

“I really thought I was going to quit bees, but I didn’t want to,” he said. “The bees give me a lot of happiness.”

By receiving the FVC Fellowship through the generous support of AgWest Farm Credit, he will be adding a honey extractor, five hives and five swarm traps to his business aptly named Bee Right Back Bees.