Feel the BUZZ!

Attune Foods, The Bee Ranchers and Whole Foods / Napa all team-up to bring better honeybee awareness to consumers. 1 out of 3 bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators!

The Bee Ranchers was recently contacted by Dawn Raggio of Attune Foods about a project they were working on with Whole Foods in Napa. After inquiring about our beehives and services, Dawn agreed to purchase one of our hives for the “Share the BUZZ” display and have it raffled off at the store.

“This is a local tie-in with Attune and Pacific Foods at the Napa Whole Foods. With the bee population decreasing, we are drawing awareness to it as much as possible in the region”.

We at The Bee Ranchers think the display looked fantastic (we especially liked the fun floor graphics) and we really appreciate the support of Attune Foods. Whenever, whatever, wherever, however, if it is in support of our local honeybee populations, we’ll try and help!

Did you happen to see the display at Whole Foods? If so, tell us what you thought! If you won the hive in the raffle, drop us a line and let us know, we’d love to hear from you.


The Hive Diary / PART 4

Super Time!!!

Mike, Ranch Foreman, came by the house late last week to do a check-up and determined that it was time to add the next two components to our thriving hive. He placed on the Queen excluder and the first medium super or “honey super” (Anatomy of a Hive). It is the top box and thin metal sheet you see on the pic below.

Up to this point the hive has been primarily working to sustain itself through the development of comb, honey and brood. With the addition of the Queen excluder, the honeybees can now travel up into the “honey super” and begin to build comb and make honey. Excluding the Queen from this area means that no brood or larvae will develop just leaving pure comb and honey! Whoooooo-hoooooooo!!! So excited.

So two important things to think about that are coming up in the not too distant future:

FIRST  > What kind of extraction party do we want to have? After all, this is a very fun and interesting event for those who have never witnessed honey being extracted. Just family? Neighbors? Good friends? Kids from Preschool?

SECOND > What will we call our own honey and what will our label look like? Surely we’ll be passing honey out to friends, family, neighbors, business associates, and we’ll want to come up with our own unique name and label. So far I’m liking the name “PLAFAYEZ GOLD”. More on name and label for a later post.

Lots of exciting and sweet things right around the corner!

The Queen

A recent repost from our Facebook page.

Ranch Foreman snapped this shot while checking one of our client’s new hives. There are a lot of bees in this shot but one is not quite like the others! Can you find her – the Queen? Drop us a line with your guess. We might even give something away to the first person who guesses correctly! Who is it gonna bee?

The Hive Diary / PART 2

The Bees have arrived!

Our family has been waiting for this day for a couple of weeks and it did not disappoint. There was the nagging question that went through my mind several times, “What does a package of bees look like?”. The pics below answer my question.

An interesting little wire encased, cage-type box with a canned food-like lid is the answer. Supposedly there are roughly 6000-8000 honeybees in a package. This was the first package that Mike dropped off. The pic above shows his truck with the back full of 47 packages of bees! Lets do the math on that…

…282,000 – 376,000 honeybees, destined for good homes and the great honeybee habitat of various locales of the Bay Area! Many are headed to Alameda, while others have further to travel throughout the Bay Area.

For now, the package of our bees have been placed in the hive as you see in the picture below. The reason being, Mike will come back later this evening to “hive” the bees. Evenings tend to be a good time to “hive” bees as they are not prone to immediately leave the hive to forage and disrupt the colony’s new home.

If you are curious what they sound like packaged the way they are (I was), I describe it in this way, take a ice cold coke, pour it into a glass with ice and listen to it bubbling. Kinda sounds like that!

We’ll report back to you all on our new colony once they have been hived.

The Hive Diary / PART 1

Brand Foreman gets a hive!

I’m excited to announce that I officially have a hive in my backyard. Hive #001 to be exact (by request). Mike (The Bee Rancher) and Ranch Hand Morgan came by last weekend to set it up. A true family affair.

Full disclosure. I’ve never owned a beehive before but have been around them from time to time at Mike’s house. It was great watching and documenting the whole affair. I’m excited to add this new facet to my backyard ecosystem/landscape. Now I should also mention that what I actually have is an empty beehive. The bees do not arrive until mid-April. Yeah, a little anti-climatic but in reality it is actually a good thing as it gives me time to acclimate to the location I have chosen for the hive.

The location of the hive (X marks the spot) is something Mike and I discussed in some detail. There are some key factors in choosing the right location. Ideally an area that gets a good amount of morning light. Certainly a location that is a fair distance from high traffic areas. And a location that is reasonably accessible as the hive will need to be tended to as Mike performs his care and maintenance.

I think we found a great location that fits all those parameters perfectly. My location highlights the hive in my backyard and may very well serve as a focal point. There certainly are other areas that would be suitable but less visible. As you’ve probably seen, these hives are beautiful, so I want to be looking at mine on a daily basis.

Plus Mike tells me there is nothing better than kicking back near the hive after work, cracking a beer and watching the honeybees wind down their day as well. Can’t wait. The beer is chilling in the fridge, now all I need are the Honeybees!

Some additional pictures of the hive installation below.

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.