Has Spring sprung?

If the blossoming and buzzing fruit trees are any indication, the answer might be yes! The image below (Brand Foreman’s backyard) is probably a common sight throughout the Bay area lately. Hard to walk outside or drive around without seeing many fruiting trees with their blossoms on full display.

Just standing near one of these trees and it sounds like Spring is humming along! The trees in my backyard are literally humming / buzzing with activity. The honeybees are going nuts! An awesome site to see and cool thing to hear this early in the year. We can’t help but wonder what this portends for the honey harvest this year – an early bounty perhaps? Only time and eventually the bees will tell.

Below are some additional shots I took on a lunch break in the backyard on 02/27.

7:00AM Branding Session

Cup-o-coffee, CHECK! Warm breakfast burrito, CHECK! Full tank of Blue Rhino, CHECK! Heavy duty welding gloves, CHECK! Branding iron, CHECK! A dozen plus bee boxes, CHECK!

Not unlike Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) from Apocalypse Now, we love the smell of burnt cedar in the morning! A very robust and distinct flavor. You cannot help but notice the smell and if you like camp fires, you’d definitely like this smokey scent.

Beyond the scent we like the look of the brands themselves. But it is really not just an aesthetic detail for The Bee Ranchers, it actually serves (2) very important roles for us:

ROLE #1 – We keep track of all the hives we sell and ranch. So with the individually unique numbering system we are able to keep our clients easily updated in our database and inform them of the services performed on the specific beehives. Think, if we just sold (4) non-descript, white beehives to a client, how could we clearly report on our maintenance services without unique identification? Each of our hives is individually branded, numbered and tracked for optimal service reporting.

ROLE #2 – Nobody likes a thief! And unfortunately, now-a-days we need to be especially vigilant. The theft of beehives in California (and across the Nation) has dramatically risen over the recent years. If you do not believe us, read for yourself (Beehive Thefts) Our hope is that with a unique brand burnt into our hives, we’ll reduce the risk of our/your hives being taken by nefarious apiarists.

Some more pics from our branding session this morning.

If you are ever interested in joining us for a branding session, drop us a line to let us know. All we ask is that you bring the breakfast burritos!

Anatomy of a beehive

There is a good chance the majority of us have seen a modern day bee hive. In fact they are quite prevalent along the Central Valley corridor and Wine Country – white boxes all lined up in rows typically along agricultural fields. While very recognizable from the outside, do you really know what they look on the inside? The following is a diagrammatic photo outlining the components of a bee hive.

A. Outer Cover / Top
The cover that goes over the sides of the top box of the hive to protect the inside from weather/water.  Typically made from galvanized metal or, in some cases, copper.

B. Inner Cover
Used to help better regulate the temperature by creating dead space inside the hive.

C. & D. Medium Super
The box where excess honey is stored by the honey bees on the frames inside.  This is where the beekeeper will harvest honey from.

E. & G. Deep / Brood Chamber
The space where the honey bees live.  The queen lays her eggs here, the brood is fed and raised here and pollen, honey and nectar are stored here as food.  Pollen is their protein source, nectar is their carbohydrate source.

F. Queen Excluder
Placed between the top brood chamber and bottom super box to prevent queen from entering super boxes and laying eggs.  Worker bees can slip through the screen mesh but the queen is too large and cannot.

H. Screened Bottom Board
Forms the floor of the hive.  The Bee Ranchers uses screened bottom boards exclusively for better ventilation and better pest control management.

Truth be told, our hives are really no different on the inside than the ones we see in the Central Valley, however, we like to think ours are better looking. Do you agree? Leave us a message and let us know!

Go to Our Hives section of our site for more detailed pics.

Honeybees VS Yellowjackets

One of the first questions we are typically asked by our prospective clients when discussing setting up a hive on their property is, “will the the Bees bother me?”. The simple answer is an emphatic “No”. Now certainly the location of a hive is carefully taken into consideration and typically positioned in an area that is not adjacent to high traffic or high use or play areas.

While the Bay Area serves as prime habitat for honeybees (pictured above), it unfortunately also serves as prime habitat for yellowjackets (pictured below). No regions are immune to this aggressive backyard pest and unfortunately they are often mis-identified as “bees”.

We are here to set the record straight, honeybees and yellowjackets are very different from one another and given the right information to look for, are actually quite easy to differentiate from one another.

Take a close look at the picture below and then read a few facts about how they differ from one another:

Honeybees and yellowjackets are distinctly different in color with yellowjackets having a more primary yellow coloration to the honeybee’s orangish/amber/brown.

Honeybees have a lightly fuzzy / hairy look to their bodies while yellowjackets have an almost glossy / waxy hairless look to their bodies.

Honeybees are pollinators and collect pollen within the hairs on their legs, yellowjackets do not have these hairs and are rarely seen with collections of pollen on their legs.

Honeybees eat nectar and are often found hovering around and pollinating flowers, yellowjackets are predatory (meat eaters), and while not attacking normal prey, can be distinctly found hovering around picnic tables and BBQs.

A honeybee’s flight pattern can be characterized as almost smooth in appearance, while a yellowjacket can be very fast with a rapid side to side movement prior to landing.

Honeybees have glands that can produce wax for construction of their honeycomb, yellowjackets do not have these wax producing glands.

Now that you are in the know, we’re sure you won’t mistake Yellowjackets for Honeybees. Should you have a stubborn persistent problem with yellowjackets in and around your yard there are several helpful resources that can inform you on how to eliminate and or mange these pests. Start with your local County Vector Control: