Updated: Mar 9
We are very happy to have Nelda as part of our regional directors.
Nelda (goes by Nel) is a pharmacist by training who grew up in Salem, Oregon and spent most of her professional career as a clinical faculty member at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy and Academic Medical Centers. During her pharmacy career she wrote and published extensively in the field of clinical pharmacology. After developing a side interest in applied uses of technology, in 2001 she earned an executive MBA degree from the UW School of Business Technology Management program. Nel retired from pharmacy in January 2022. In 2012, Nel and her husband, Paul, established the NP Ranch which is located along the Wallowa River in the upper NE corner of Oregon. Our 160+ acre ranch is surrounded by rangeland and mountains in all directions and we raise hair sheep for meat in a sparsely populated region better known for raising cattle and alfalfa hay.
In 2020 my sister and I started a beekeeping partnership with one hive each in two separate locations at significantly different altitudes. Neither of us knew much about what to expect but we both wanted to support pollination of local plants and to produce a little honey for ourselves. In preparation for beekeeping, I spent the winter of 2019/2020 reading everything I could get my hands on about honeybees and quickly realized my preference for a science-based approach to my own beekeeping. During this period I also started to take an interest in emerging beekeeping technologies and learned about the WAS organization during attendance of the 4th International Bee and Hive Monitoring Conference.
Typical of our respective natures, my sister and I opted to buck tradition by starting out beekeeping with 24-frame long hives and foundationless frames. In my first year of beekeeping, I killed my queen in my very first alcohol wash but still managed to grow my apiary from one colony to four. Under the guidance of my local mentor, I successfully grafted queens, performed splits, and began having discussions about formally organizing the beekeepers in our area into a club. In 2021 I completed the University of Montana’s Apprentice Level Online Beekeeping Program, grew my apiary from 4 to 11 hives, filed the paperwork to incorporate the Wallowa County Beekeepers as a nonprofit education focused entity, and became the club’s initial president/treasurer. In that year, I also expanded the number of long hives in my operation, began monitoring hive weight with a WiFi hive scale, experimented with Langstroth, Apimaye boxes, utilized overwintered divided nucleus colonies as “resource” hives per the methods of Mike Palmer, and started tracking local weather and bloom data per Etienne Tardif’s method. For 2022 I have purchased 3 more WiFi Hive Scales and a HiveHeart device, I plan to enroll in the U of M’s online Natural Beekeeping course, grow my bee yard to 20 colonies, and begin to convert parts of our pastureland to native pollinator habitat to be shared on a rotational basis by the bees and the sheep. In 2023 I hope to grow to 30 colonies and continue my formal training in the U of M’s Journeyman Beekeeping program.