A happy client!

We are all about client service.

IMG_3382sm

As a small business owner, I realize that how I treat my clients is of the utmost importance. I am proud of the service and education I provide my clients with and enjoy the testimonials they in turn send to us. I’d love to share a recent testimonial from a happy client:

To all aspiring bee enthusiasts,

I have been working with Mike Vigo of The Bee Ranchers since fall of 2011. After 2 years of a futile attempt by another “bee keeper“ I was introduced to Mike and the result was an exciting and immediate turnaround of growing positive momentum. His experience, knowledge and level of service takes this art to a fascinating and rewarding space for me. Nothing like enhancing your environment, watching the activity of the bees and harvesting your own honey!

For anyone interested in beekeeping at any level, please offer Mike any courtesies available and he will guide you from “start to finish“ keeping you well informed along the way.

Sincere regards,

Chris Ettell

I am sincerely thankful to Chris and all of my great clients that enable me to do what I enjoy doing best, supporting local honeybee populations within the Bay Area and sharing my knowledge with those with similar interests.

Mike Vigo

 

BUZZing Real Estate Market

3 bedroom, 2 bath and backyard with really cool beehive!

IMG_1399

Luckily the owners who had been remodeling this house for over a year were not bothered by the natural beehive that had developed in the olive tree of their backyard. They were however not keen on keeping it there once they moved in. Thankfully they were smart enough to call a friend of Mike’s to inquire about removal/rescue option.

Mike’s friend called him for assistance on the job. Mike was a bit surprised as it was in the dead of winter and roughly 32 degrees out. Mike curiously accepted the Mission.

When they got to the home they were blown away at what they saw 15’ up in the tree. Long story short, they were able to “smoke” the bees a couple times to calm them, cut the main support branch and lower it carefully into a lined garbage can for transport.

IMG_1402

The hive is currently at Mike’s friends house with a brood box placed over it. The theory is the bees will naturally migrate up into the brood box and happily establish themselves in the bee box. This should take a few months to happen.

Mike was amazed at this hive having little protection from wind, rain and cold, yet it was absolutely thriving! A testimony to how adaptive and strong honeybees can be.

IMG_1405

A very beautiful example of organic architecture.

Ever run into a natural beehive like this? We’d love to hear about it!

Whoa! What was that?

Spring_2013

 

Well if you are an inhabitant of the San Francisco Bay Area then last weekend most likely gave you a serious dose of Spring Fever! That is especially true for me, Brand Foreman for the Bee Ranchers. My family and I spent a fabulously warm sunday enjoying a picnic overlooking Mt. Diablo. Both the honeybees and the bumblebees were out in force. Let’s just say that it awoke me from my blogging hibernation of the past (2) months. Wintertime is definitely our slow season.

That being said, ( YAWN and BIG stretch ) we’re ready to shake off Old Man Winter and get right into supplying you with some fresh Springtime posts on the blog. In fact I can’t wait for the next post which I know will blow you away. Without giving too much away, it involved a hive rescue that Mike, Ranch Foreman, conducted with a friend in Wintertime – the pics are amazing and I promise this is not just BLOG GUILT hype!

Stay tuned this week for the post!

And for those of you in the Midwest and East Coast still enduring the cold, just pretend you never read this!

Hive Diary / PART 7

Hive #001 Down?

IMG_3835sm

Well as we stated when we started this BLOG just over a year ago, we want to share the good and the bad with you all. There was a lot of good news to report over the past year! Unfortunately we have a spot of bad news to report.

Mike came to check our hive a couple weeks back during his normal rounds and found very few bees within our hive. Mike was able to find the Queen but the population of the hive struck Mike as extremely low in numbers. This hive has always been observed as healthy. Naturally a hive’s population begins to thin out as Winter draws near, this did not strike Mike as a natural drop.

Mike reduced the hive down to just one brood chamber and we’ve inserted a entry restricter to help them defend the hive from “robber bees”. There is plenty of food stores for the size of the colony so now it will be a waiting and closely observing game.

IMG_3851sm

The unfortunate prognosis Mike gave is that there is a very real chance this hive will not survive the Winter. Very sad.

We’ll keep you posted on how things go over the next month or two. Wish us and our honeybees luck!

Have you had any issues with your hive this year? Drop us a line to tell us about it.

The Marketplace “Mellifera” Movement

We’re pleased to see that Alameda Marketplace has their own private label honey on the shelves now!

As many of you know Alameda Marketplace has been a great client of The Bee Ranchers. Earlier this year, they purchased hives from us and hired Mike to maintain them. The hives are located throughout Alameda as well as on their rooftop.

It’s wonderful to see the fruits (nectar) of their passion and dedication come to reality with the end result being jars of wonderful local honey to sell to the residents of Alameda. And as Donna Layburn (owner) states, “The real focus is to educate our customers about the importance of honeybees and the environment. The honey just happens to be a very sweet, tasty and healthy by-product of supporting (ranching) honeybees”.

Once again we salute Alameda Marketplace for their dedication to support local honeybees and for being such a great client / collaborator in this important effort.

For those of you who are curious… mellifera? CLICK HERE

Honeybees & Your Garden

We’ve done a lot of talking about how honeybees benefit us humans but not too much on how they benefit a garden. They truly are a natural addition to any garden or landscape. You could say they are mutually beneficial to one another. Honeybees are fantastic pollinators (keeping our flowers, veggies and trees producing) and a blooming garden is basically a wonderful foraging/food source for the bees.

So as we go into winter time I’ve found that letting some of my plants and herbs go to flower has been great nectar source for my bees. Specifically I’ve let my basil plants go to flower and the bees have just gone crazy for them. So as wintertime comes upon us and flowering plants become less and less available, it is nice to give the bees a few last options in the yard.

So I say, rather then tear out the veggie/herb garden and prep your beds for winter, let them go a little bit longer and your local honeybees will thank you!

Roberts Markets of Woodside

Roberts Market is selling The Bee Ranchers honey!

We’ve been fortunate enough to forge a relationship with Roberts Market of Woodside and supply them with locally harvested wildflower honey to sell under their “Roberts Kitchen” label. The honey comes from several hives we have located in the Woodside and Portola Valley area.

For those of you not familiar with Roberts, it is truly a town marketplace that, “has it all.” Grocery, fresh produce, deli, wine and spirits and a great “oldstyle” meat department. We know our honey under the Roberts label will be well received by the Woodside community. HURRY WHILE SUPPLY LASTS!

To learn more about Roberts rich history (originally started in San Francisco), click HERE.

Hive Diary / PART 6

Autumn’s amber harvest!

High whispy clouds, sunny warm “indian summer” days, high pressure off shore winds, pumpkin carving, Halloween, apple picking, raking leaves (if you got em) a slight chill to the early mornings and evenings and of course uncrowded fishing. These are all things I look forward to during my favorite part of each year. Well I can officially add one more great thing to look forward to for Fall / Autumn and that is a late honey harvest!

Mike came over roughly a week ago and harvested our honey out of our hive. Unfortunately I had to work that day so I was unable to participate in removing the frames from the hive and placing them in the centrifuge. There were not a lot to load but just enough to get a good and memorable supply of first harvest honey. Certainly enough to share with friends and family.

While I was unable to assist with the core extraction, Mike left the bulk honey in a 5 gallon bucket with spigot so our family could have fun and participate in jarring the honey. Mike also supplied us with 9oz. jars with lids.

We decided to pick a saturday to jar our honey so the whole family could participate. First observation, the honey was extremely thick – something Mike had noticed as well. Second observation, it was a dark amber color. This is not your golden Spring time honey! Third observation, this is an activity that the whole family can have fun with, from the pouring to the jar filling. Even the littlest of hands can help, especially to clean the empty bucket with their fingers!

We’ve even been able to come up with a custom label that will be applied to each of our jars announcing our special honey.

Bottom line, super fun and well worth the wait. I can almost guarantee that the best honey you’ll ever taste will be from your own hive’s first harvest!

A shout out to our honeybees, BRAVO and well done! All your hard work is sustaining your thriving hive and leaving a little left over to share with us. Thanks, you truly are the hardest working honeybees in Contra Costa County and you’ve been a great addition to the family!!!

Bee Rancher Lids

Awwwwwwwwwww yeeeeaaaahhhhhh, the Rancher lids are in!

Got some serious Bee Rancher pride? Looking for a great fashion accessory to go along with your Bee Rancher T-shirt? Let us know and we’ll send you info on how to purchase your very own, one size fits all lid!

We also want to hear from you, tell us what you think! Like the brand? Too brown for you? Best looking hat you’ve every seen? Don’t wear hats? We know you have opinions out there! Let’s hear them.

Aggressive Pollinator

Brand Manager’s garden visited by an unidentified flying object.

Knowing honeybees are big fans of Lavender, this past Spring I purchased several plants and potted them near my hive. Sure enough they have been a huge hit and they are great to sit near and observe the buzzing activity. For the most part I have observed primarily honeybees and from time to time a big black carpenter bee. I have also seen some smaller honeybee type species which I would not begin to try and identify at this point.

This weekend I observed the visitor above that I have not ever seen before. He/she is a very interesting mix between what I see as a yellowjacket, honeybee and a bumble bee. The abdomen, waxy to the eye and colored similar to a yellowjacket, the thorax furry like a bumblebee and the head really a mix of a honeybee and a yellowjacket. The wings were similar to a yellowjacket too. It could hover perfectly still as well.

What struck me as most interesting about this visitor is that he/she very aggressively kept the honeybees away from the lavender, often times pouncing on unsuspecting bees as they were slurping up nectar. And not just shooing them away but chasing them a good distance from the lavender. An interesting visitor and by the ratio of honeybees to him/her, I’m not too worried of an adverse effect on the honeybees.

Have you ever seen this pollinator in your yard? Do you know what it is called? If so, drop us a line to let us know. We’ll do some investigating on our end too.