Swarm on the range!

Ranch foreman gets lucky!

Range_Swarm_02

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.

Range_Swarm_01

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.

wisteria_frenzy

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!

Almonds = Healthy Start to 2014

pop_helpThe Bee Ranchers concluded their 1st trip out to the almond pollination earlier this week and the whole experience worked out as planned. Each hive started with 8 frames of bees and all came back with 18-20 frames of bees, pollen and honey stores! I trailered the hives home Tuesday night, made some splits Wednesday morning and delivered the hives back to their true home Wednesday night to take advantage of the Bay Area spring nectar flow that is upon us. These hives are in much stronger shape to go after the spring nectar flow here in the Bay Area then the ones left behind. With a little luck, we might have some Bee Rancher spring honey for sale in a few months!

I even had an old friend stop by and help out. I bet if you asked him 30 years ago when we first met that one day he would be helping me tend to my bees, he would have said not a chance. Well, fast forward 30 years and there he is, in the middle of 100’s of thousands of bees, helping me out. He was able to overcome his apprehension of bees and I was able to educate him about the importance of honeybees. It is nice to know that 1 more individual out there knows a little more about honey bees. As a beekeeper, I feel educating people to the best of my ability is one of my main responsibilities besides tending to the welfare of my bees.

Enjoy the spring and pray for more rain!!

BeeRancher

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.

Swift Real Estate Partners doing the right thing!

In this day and age when most of us think about how fast and cost effective we handle certain obstacles that confront us, it is refreshing to know that some people and businesses overcome barriers the right way instead of the most cost effective way.

SREP-7

Case in point, Swift Real Estate Partners of San Francisco.

I was contacted by SREP to help them with a feral colony of honeybees that had made their home in the 3rd floor planter box at one of their buildings they own in Concord. They didn’t mind the bees necessarily, but on windy days the bee’s flight pattern would end up closer to the sidewalk and entrance of the building to the point that they were becoming a nuisance to visitors and tenants entering the front doors. SREP could have very easily dealt with the honeybees by poisoning the bees and leaving it at that. Instead, they hired the Bee Ranchers to come out and remove the bees, re-hive them in a Bee Ranchers bee hive kit, re-locate them to another location on their property and have the Bee Ranchers manage the colony!

SREP-1

A couple of weeks ago I went out to the site to meet up with SREP who had gone to the expense of renting a lift so that I could get up to the 3rd floor planter and remove the bees. Once I was lifted up to the planter to begin the removal process I discovered the bees had absconded their hive. After removing the planters to get to the empty comb it looks as if these bees left due to lack of food stores. The comb was beautiful and the bees had attached it to the underside of the planter boxes in the void underneath the planters.

SREP-6

Although we were not successful and end up with bees, we did clean up the site, we discussed ways to prevent bees from coming back and the Bee Ranchers was able to educate a few more people on honeybees and why they are so vital to preserve.

I tip my hat to Swift Real Estate Partners for going the extra mile to help out our friend the honeybee.

All photos courtesy of Swift Real Estate Partners.

SREP-3

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.

05_Leigh_Anne_Stump

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.

03_Leigh_Anne_Stump
01_Leigh_Anne_Stump

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.

06_Leigh_Anne_Stump

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.

02_Leigh_Anne_Stump