Bee Thinking

Recently, I spent a few hours at Bee Thinking in their Portland, OR retail storefront placing the names and faces together that I have been talking to over the last year or so. The Bee Ranchers only uses Western Red Cedar boxes for our hive bodies and, after going thru a couple of suppliers since our founding, I am happy I stumbled upon Bee Thinking. They make beautiful hive bodies and woodenware and the quality of their boxes has been very satisfactory.

What I found to be interesting though, is how passionate the Bee Thinking brand has become with everything that has to do with honeybees and pollinators. They really are trying to change the way we think about honeybees and their employees and retail store show it. Mead and honey tasting, beekeeping classes, beekeeping supplies and innovative beekeeping products are just a few examples of what you will find here.

If you are ever in Portland, I highly suggest you stop in their store to browse their beekeeping supplies, taste some of the local honey they sell or belly up to the mead bar and try some local mead.  bethinking.com

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Spring 2016 Package Installation

Yesterday, I finished up installing the last of 51 3-lb packages of honeybees I bought from Pendell Apiaries on behalf of my customers. http://www.pendellapiaries.com I love their bees they produce because they are gentle, incorporate the VSH trait (varroa sensitive hygiene) and the Pendell family are great to work with (Sheri, Frank and Joy). All of the installations went off without a hitch and I look forward to monitoring the colonies progress through the Spring and Summer.

Now for the disclaimer! Please don’t do this without a veil unless you know what you are doing and have experience installing packages. I was able to install these packages without a veil because I knew where the bees came from, I knew that they were gentle and I knew they wouldn’t be upset because they really had no home to defend. If you are a beginner installing packages or open up a hive mindlessly without a veil, expect to be stung! This slo-mo video was taken by a client while I was hiving their 3 colonies.

And so it begins…

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…the Bee Ranchers participation in the world’s largest pollination event, almonds! We trailered our hives out to the Central Valley early Tuesday morning to get to our place in the orchard by sunrise. Our bees will spend the next several weeks pollinating the thousands of almond trees in the surrounding orchards. We are thrilled to be a very small part of this most important agricultural happening and look forward to it each and every season. Next time you have an almond snack, remember to thank a honeybee!

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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Busy Peninsula Bees

Ranch Foreman gets highlighted in local article.

We were pleased to get some press on the clients we work with on the Peninsula. The article was posted on the The Almanac. Great article highlighting several beekeepers working within the area. Worth a download (PDF) of the printed version. Take 5 minutes and give it a read if you are interested in what we are up to on the Peninsula. Click the link below to take you there.

The Almanac, Print Issue April 9th, 2014

A good day.

There are just some days that stand out from the rest for this Bee Rancher.

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Earlier this week I (Ranch Foreman) was tending hives at a clients house on the Peninsula. They have a very large and extremely healthy wisteria vine growing along their garage, pictured above. What is so great about that you might ask? It was literally teeming with both honeybees and big fuzzy bumblebees. It was a true frenzy for nectar with honeybees diving right into the blossoms and bumblebees chasing and pushing them out. Must have been thousands of honeybees and at least fifty bumblebees zipping around.

So in a day and age when we (the bee keeping community) are constantly reinforcing the plight of the honeybee (and it truly is a serious issue – had to get that in) it is nice to sit back and watch a very healthy population of pollinators doing what comes naturally!

It is good to be a Bee Rancher!

Harvest Time!

An inside perspective by Ranch Foreman, Mike Vigo.

04_Leigh_Anne_StumpThere are certain times of the beekeeping season that I can’t stand and then there are some that I can’t wait for.

July/August are 2 months of the season which I despise due to the typical summer dearth where there are not many flowers in bloom, which means a lack of food, which means the bees need to be fed if they don’t have adequate honey/pollen stores built up from the spring. Think livestock.

The Fall, however, is harvest season and a rewarding time for those who are lucky enough to have honey to harvest. As a beekeeper, my #1 satisfaction comes from maintaining a healthy colony that survive the winter time. The 2nd best thing is harvesting honey.

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The harvest time is exciting for me because of all of you. More often then not when I show up for an extraction at your house I am greeted with friends and family of yours who are curious/interested/fascinated by the extraction process and the wonderment of the honeybee. It is a perfect setting to talk/educate anyone about honeybees. Everyone seems to walk away with a better understanding of how important the honeybee is to all of us and how fun beekeeping can be.

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This Fall harvest season was similar to last year in that overall, I harvested or am about to harvest the same amount of honey as last year. The difference is I am harvesting less honey in Lamorinda and San Mateo county then last year and quite a bit more in Alameda. Alameda is the oasis for a honeybee. The environment seems ripe for the honeybee to survive and they really do a terrific job in storing excess honey for the beekeeper to extract. I am guessing they do so well there vs. the other counties because the fog rolls in, cools and dampens the vegetation, rolls out as the sun comes out which helps to sustain any bloom longer. The other 2 counties are hotter and drier and, with the lack of rains, the bloom does not stay for long. In fact, early reports in California are suggesting the 2013 Honey harvest will be another tough year in terms of yield.

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So, enjoy your honeybees, enjoy any honey you reap and enjoy these pictures from a harvest I did earlier in the month in Alameda. The photos are all courtesy of Leigh-Anne Stump who was invited by her friend to participate in the harvest. Her pictures did an amazing job of capturing the essence of a small, local harvest.

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