Project Apis m.

Apis m.

A shout out to the Bee Ranchers!

Many of you may know that The Bee Ranchers are supporters of Project Apis m. For those of you who do not, PAm is an organization that focuses on:

Enhancing the Health of Honey Bees

Project Apis m.’s mission is to fund and direct research to enhance the health and vitality of honey bee colonies while improving crop production.

They just included a little write-up on the Bee Ranchers in their monthly newsletter. Check it out HERE if you have 5 minutes. Take some additional time to read what they’ve been up to over the years and how they strive to enhance the health of honeybees!

Thanks Project Apis m. for all the good work you do.

Project Apis m. website

A Trip to the Central Valley

photo 1Recently I trailered a number of hives out to the central valley to pollinate the almonds. This is the Bee Ranchers first time we have entered into a pollination contract with a grower and so far my experience has been terrific! I woke up early on February 12th to deliver my bees to my designated location where the grower was nice enough to allow me to park my trailer in a spot close to water and out of his way of equipment. This meant that I didn’t have to unload my hives off my trailer which is both a back and time saver.

photo 3

A few days ago, I drove out to the almond orchard to make sure they were there (there have been a number of hives stolen recently), check in on my bees (they are doing great, see pics and video) and treat them for mites using MAQS. The day was partly cloudy but in the 60’s, the earlier blooming trees have mostly been pollinated (their petals had fallen to the ground) and I am now just waiting another 14 days or so for the later almond varietals to come into bloom. My main factor for taking hives to the almonds is food stores. With the drought California is experiencing, I am very worried about lack of forage in the summer and don’t want to feed my bees if I don’t have to. With the almond trees in bloom, I am hoping that my bees can take full advantage and store up a ton of pollen and nectar that will help them get through the summer months. By all indications yesterday, that is happening. Once I bring my bees back, I will add supers to them so that the strong colonies can begin to fill them up with spring wildflower honey here in the Bay Area. These hives in the almonds seem to be much stronger then a few I left behind and I am pleased with how things have turned out so far.

Proper Ranching Attire

The Bee Rancher Ts are here!

It has taken us awhile but we finally got them done and we are very happy with the results. We have a modest first run of shirts for Ranch Foreman and Ranch Hands (photo above), clients and supporters of the cause. Insight Resource Group took care of getting us the shirt specs and had them printed for us – they made the process really easy. A great group of folks to work with and a local company to boot!

Yeah, yeah, yeah…we know and we are on top of it! Our hats (which are going to be pretty darn cool) are going to be on the way shortly too and will compliment our shirts nicely. Obviously a subject for a future post!

Tell us what you think? Would you wear one? Do you like the color? We want to hear from you and determine if we need to order more!

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!

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.