The Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, along the Connecticut River, contains the state’s best and most productive soils. It was here, in South Deerfield, that Dan and Bonita Conlon in 2000 founded Warm Colors Apiary on 80 acres of low-lying woodland, fields, and wetlands. The site they chose was on the edge of the Valley, just before the land climbs more than 400 feet to the town of Conway.
“We located here out of dumb luck,” admits Dan. “This little spot is sheltered and is often 10 degrees warmer in the winter than it is up the hill a few miles in Conway. We have early bloom of skunk cabbage and many other early spring flowers, yet we see the bees bringing in pollen in December sometimes. We have things that bloom in sequence the entire summer into fall until the first hard frost hits. That gives the bees a natural stimulus plus a healthy variety of diet.”
Dan has kept bees since he was 14, when he worked for a neighboring Ohio farmer who had a couple of dozen hives. Conlon says he took a liking to the bees because the ‘seemed kind of cool’. No one else in the farmer’s family liked managing them so he had Dan over on Sundays to help him.