Local beekeeping business received two awards in 2016

Conrey’s new production building at her Berthoud location received an American Institute of Architects San Diego Merit Award in 2016. The award was granted to Conrey’s sister and brother-in-law, Catherine Herbst and Todd Rinehard, of San Diego based architecture firm Rinehart Herbst. Courtesy photo

Conrey’s new production building at her Berthoud location received an American Institute of Architects San Diego Merit Award in 2016. The award was granted to Conrey’s sister and brother-in-law, Catherine Herbst and Todd Rinehard, of San Diego based architecture firm Rinehart Herbst.
Courtesy photo

By Katie Harris
The Surveyor

Berthoud beekeeper Beth Conrey’s fascination with bugs started back when she was just a kid.

“I’ve always been a bug lover,” said Conrey. “I collected bugs and made displays for 4H when I was young, and it stuck.”

It wasn’t until reading Tom Theobald’s columns in the local newspapers back in the ’90s that she decided to turn her focus to bees.

“Theobald wrote about his experience owning a honey farm, and I said to my husband, ‘I’ve got to do that,’” said Conrey.

After taking a beekeeping class and setting out a couple of hives, she soon found herself hooked on all things bees. A decade later she was ready to turn her hobby into a living, and Bee Squared Apiaries was born.

Today, Conrey keeps 60 hives throughout Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties, with a home base in Berthoud. She sells honey and beeswax products on her website, bethsbees.com, as well as at various locations across the Front Range. In Berthoud her products can be found at Gifts from the Guild and Rancher’s Wife.

As former president of the Western Apicultural Society and former head of the Colorado State Beekeeper’s Association, Conrey knows her stuff. She also currently volunteers as co-chair of People and Pollinators Action Network and sits on the board of the national Pollinators Stewardship Council. In between her volunteer work and the running of her business, Conrey speaks at local events on the importance of a healthy bee population.

Last year Bee Squared Apiaries brought two important recognitions to Berthoud, one of which was the 2016 Good Food Award in the infused honey category for its Rose Honey, out of 23 finalists.

The award was based on a blind taste test, and winners were required to meet strict guidelines in sustainability, production and social responsibility. Winners received the Good Food seal to label their products with, assuring customers of “delicious, sustainable, and socially good food,” according to www.goodfoodawards.org.

“The award is nice because it’s based both on the caliber of the output and the value of your input,” said Conrey. “It rewards the way we manage our bees as well as the end product.”

Conrey said the highlight of the award for her was having the opportunity to speak at the award ceremony in San Francisco.

“I believe there’s value in chemical-free beekeeping and in the way we take care of our bees,” she said. “It was an honor to be recognized for that.”

In addition to the prestigious Good Food Award, Conrey’s new production building at her Berthoud location also made the news in 2016.

The facility won a merit award from American Institute of Architects San Diego, which was granted to Conrey’s sister and brother-in-law, Catherine Herbst and Todd Rinehart of San Diego-based architecture firm Rinehart Herbst.

Herbst said when Conrey approached them about designing a production building to put on her Berthoud property, she and her husband flew to Berthoud to photograph dozens of local agriculture buildings.

“They wanted a metal building, fast and cheap,” said Herbst. “We were classically inspired by the utilitarianism of a farm shed.”

Herbst said the design of the building was all about function.

“My sister needed a honey house,” she said. “She was doing it all out of her home and it was painful watching the honey go everywhere.”

Herbst said they purchased a 32’x90’ metal building from a company in Houston and placed it on a metal frame to create a breezeway. She said, while the design of the building was fairly simple, the location was what she, Rinehart, and Conrey spent the most time on.

“There’s a compelling landscape on the property,” said Herbst. “We wanted to accentuate that, not compete with it.”

Herbst said one of the goals of the buildings was to change people’s perspectives of their surroundings when viewed from different angles by experimenting with long lines and monochromatic color schemes.

“It does some funny things optically,” she said. “It looks very small from the street, but it’s actually a very long building.”

According to Herbst, she and Rinehart applied for the award on a lark.

“The awards were for San Diego buildings and San Diego architects,” she said. “We had the smallest facility and were the smallest firm that won.”

Herbst said the peer-reviewed merit award is high praise for a small architecture firm.

“It’s an honor, and good for our reputation, having the respect of our colleagues,” she said.

For Conrey, the new building means an end to messy in-home production of her award-winning rose honey and other products.

“The award itself means more to the architect,” she said. “What matters to me is the work flow, how much easier it makes it to do my job. It’s a functional and beautiful facility.”