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Learning about the Broncos and the bees

beekeeper bees Broncos colorado Denver Football hives honey honey bees Joe Komperda veteran

Congratulations to our bee-buddies Joe and Debbie on setting up a great apiary and some beautiful Bronco themed hives. 

Hives of honeybees humming at Dove Valley training facility
Story by Tom Skelley

There’s been a lot of talk about the upcoming Denver Broncos season, and the names Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian and John Elway have all been in the news.

But the real buzz at the Broncos’ Dove Valley training facility in unincorporated Arapahoe County is the work of Joe Komperda.

On a bright August morning, hours before the team will take the field for a pre-season game at Sports Authority Field, Komperda gracefully manipulates trays covered with honey, wax and thousands of crawling bees, seemingly oblivious to a cloud of the disgruntled insects zipping about his body.

“My first year I got stung seven times, and the next year I got stung seven times in the first week, so I stopped counting,” he said with a smile. “It just happens sometimes.”

The 60-year-oldParker resident took up beekeeping four years ago, and in 2015 was introduced to Brooks Dodson, Dove Valley’s director of turf and grounds, by a contact in the Cottonwood District after rescuing and moving several swarms near Dove Valley.

“He said the chef might be able to use the honey at the training table, and I thought `This guy has a chef?’ ” Komperda said. “Then I noticed he’s wearing blue pants with orange piping down the sides — and it hit me.”

Last year Komperda installed the first two hives, painted blue and orange by his wife and beekeeping partner Debbie. This year he’s keeping four hives, with 50,000 to 100,000 bees, behind the fieldhouse.

For the team, it’s a ready source of sweetener at the training table. For Komperda, it’s an opportunity to get the word out about his beekeeping and swarm rescue services, and a chance to make an impact on the declining bee population.

“We lose about 1 million hives a year, which is a real concern,” he said. “If two out of every three bites of food come from bees, and they go away, what are we going to do?”

About 60 percent of food products grown in the United States rely on pollination, Komperda said, and bee populations have been dropping worldwide from a combination of factors, including pesticide use, climate change and varroa mites, a parasite blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of colonies around the world.

Anyone can take small steps to make a big difference for their pollinating neighbors, Komperda noted, such as using more bee-friendly plants and fewer pesticides in their gardens.

“There’s all sorts of things you can do to help,” he said. “You don’t need to be a beekeeper.”

Though anyone who does decide to put on a netted hood and gloves will get to experience what Komperda calls “the zen of beekeeping.”

“When you come out here and open that hive, you start looking at that and just marvel at Mother Nature,” he said. “This is just something that is so amazing and you can’t see it anywhere else but in a beehive.”

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