Feature Articles

Bees are the bees knees to local beekeeper

By Bill Radford

Honeybees face plenty of threats, from pesticides to habitat loss to insidious pests called Varroa mites.

But they also have plenty of allies, including the roughly 100,00 beekeepers in the U.S., according to industry figures cited in a recent Washington Post article; the vast majority of those beekeepers, the article noted, are hobbyists with a few hives.

Count Hi-D Bridges, who lives in the Black Forest area, as one of the valued pollinators’ staunchest supporters. She grew up in the Colorado Springs area, attended Falcon High School; and, in April 2021, moved back to the Pikes Peak region from the Denver area. (About that name: It is Heidi on her birth certificate, but while in college she worked for a company with another Heidi. “I got sick and tired of getting confused with her,” she said, and so she became Hi-D.)

Bridges is a senior industrial engineer at Ball Aerospace and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. (No, that doesn’t mean she’s a martial-arts expert; it is a certification having to do with leadership and business processes, from concept to manufacturing.) A conversation with a co-worker got her interested in bees and she got her first bees in May 2022 — but not before doing her homework. Bridges took a two-month class — two and a half hours each Saturday — with the Northern Colorado Beekeeping Association. “I got a ton of information,” she said, including the anatomy of bees, an in-depth dive into the life cycle of bees and the specifics of diseases that can afflict bees.

She started with two hives. But one hive, which seemed to be thriving, died out before her first winter; she said she believes it was because the stand for the hive wasn’t tilted and moisture got inside “and took out the hive.” Going into winter, she was concerned about the second hive as it had been slow to get going. But it did make it and this spring she acquired two more packets of bees, and she is now up to three hives.

When living “up north,” Bridges belonged to a women’s entrepreneur group. After moving here and getting her bees, she started Happy Bumble Bees LLC to sell “small batch products” such as honey and custom artwork that she creates. Her goal with those projects is to help with the cost of raising the bees while furthering her mission of “populating the world with happiness.” (The website,, remains a work in progress.) Her yard has been declared a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.

“I want to make sure any wildlife that comes through is healthy and has a place to go for nutrients and hydration,” she said.

Despite her beekeeping classes, she has encountered plenty of surprises as a backyard beekeeper. “It is so much more work than I ever expected,” she said. “And I didn’t realize the investment that it would take. Don’t get into this hobby for the money. I am so in the red: the equipment, getting the bees installed and the treatments — all of the things that you need in a hive to keep them being healthy and growing the colony.”

But there are plenty of rewards, too, “I love it when my mom (who lives down the street) calls me and says, ‘Oh, some of your bees visited me today.’”

Bridges is constantly fascinated by the bees. “I can watch them for hours. … Listening to them, there’s a pitch change that happens when they’re happy, when they’re going about their work, when they’re not happy.”

The bees, she said, are also “nature’s most incredible engineer.” She pointed to the hexagonal shapes of the cells in the honeycomb. Humans have adopted the hexagon for everything from nuts and bolts to antennas.

Plus, she said the bees “look pretty snazzy in their black and yellow ensembles.”

Bumble bees 1

Bumble bees 1: Hi-D Bridges, the “queen bee” of Happy Bumble Bees, shows some of her beekeeping habitats. 

Bumble bees 2

Bumble bees 2: Hi-D Bridges has a passion for bees and a mission of “populating the world with happiness.”

“I want to make sure any wildlife that comes through is healthy and has a place to go for nutrients and hydration.”

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