Swarm on the range!

Ranch foreman gets lucky!

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Mike (Ranch Foreman) has put his time in driving around and assisting folks in taking care of and capturing swarms. In fact he has driven around all over the Bay Area in this effort. So you can imagine his surprise when he ran into a swarm at the Bee Rancher staging range! A couple pics of the action.

Remember, if you see a swarm, don’t be alarmed! They are at their most docile state. Give them some space and call an expert to relocate them. Never harm the bees or let someone call an exterminator.

Honeybees are a priceless resource for our environment and well being.

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BUZZing Real Estate Market

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

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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.

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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.

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A very beautiful example of organic architecture.

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

Hive Diary / PART 7

Hive #001 Down?

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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.

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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.

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.

The Hive Diary / PART 5

Houston we have capped honey!

Some of you may remember the last “Hive Dairy” where I expressed my excitement at the fact that I’d have honey very soon. That was back on June 27th!

Well mother nature and certainly Honeybees work in mysterious ways and can’t always be counted on to deliver the goods when you might predict they will. So (8) weeks later and we have confirmation that our Honeybees are in the Super and capping pure honey.

Mike, Ranch Foreman, came by to check the hive last week and said that almost half of our frames were drawn out with capped honey! This is great news. And I should have known as I was beginning to get very strong wafts of honey when near the hive recently – you literally can smell it.

So no predictions this time, it is just good to know that our bees are happy healthy and productive. Mike informed me that our hive was the most productive in the Lamorinda area. So perhaps we’ll get some jars of honey this season – PERHAPS!

Do you have a hive in the Lamorinda area? How is yours doing? Would be great to hear how other folks / apiarists are doing this season.

Sweet Collaboration

The Bee Ranchers Assist Alameda Marketplace in Supporting the Local Alameda Honeybee Population.

Donna Layburn, Owner and Operator of Alameda Marketplace, is aware of and
concerned about the decline in honeybee populations across the country and
throughout the world. Being the proprietor of a grocery store that prides itself
on its selection of quality organic produce, she understands the importance of
honeybees and how their lives intertwine with and support ours.

It was by chance that a close friend of Mike Vigo also knew Donna, and was aware of her passion for locally sourced, sustainable, quality, natural produce and products. He made an intro and as they say, the rest is history. Mike and Donna immediately hit it off and it was clear The Bee Ranchers were capable of providing Alameda Natural Grocery with a great service that would benefit the local Alameda community and the local honeybees for years to come.

Over the past several months The Bee Ranchers have been setting up hives on the roof of the Marketplace, and at key properties throughout Alameda. And we are happy to report that the effort has been a smashing success! Mike Vigo states, “Alameda Marketplace’s hives have been our most productive hives to date. There is a lot for the honeybees to forage on over here!”

This is what Donna Layburn was hoping for; to strengthen, support and grow the local honeybee population. She’s also a big believer in the health benefits of honey, local honey in particular. Always looking to add high-quality and in-demand products to the store, Donna is also excited to be able to offer the fruits of the honeybee’s work. In the not too distant future, Alameda Marketplace will be selling it’s own brand of local honey on it’s shelves alongside all the others. Layburn states that is really the secondary benefit to the effort though. The more awareness she can bring to her customers and the Alameda community regarding the plight of the honeybee, the better. It is through her dedication to ranching honeybees locally that she hopes to inspire others.

The Bee Ranchers is very pleased to call the Alameda Marketplace a client and
applauds Donna Layburn’s drive to make a better world for honeybees.

Are you a fan of Alameda Marketplace? Tell us about it!