A happy client!

We are all about client service.

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As a small business owner, I realize that how I treat my clients is of the utmost importance. I am proud of the service and education I provide my clients with and enjoy the testimonials they in turn send to us. I’d love to share a recent testimonial from a happy client:

To all aspiring bee enthusiasts,

I have been working with Mike Vigo of The Bee Ranchers since fall of 2011. After 2 years of a futile attempt by another “bee keeper“ I was introduced to Mike and the result was an exciting and immediate turnaround of growing positive momentum. His experience, knowledge and level of service takes this art to a fascinating and rewarding space for me. Nothing like enhancing your environment, watching the activity of the bees and harvesting your own honey!

For anyone interested in beekeeping at any level, please offer Mike any courtesies available and he will guide you from “start to finish“ keeping you well informed along the way.

Sincere regards,

Chris Ettell

I am sincerely thankful to Chris and all of my great clients that enable me to do what I enjoy doing best, supporting local honeybee populations within the Bay Area and sharing my knowledge with those with similar interests.

Mike Vigo

 

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.

Honeybees & Your Garden

We’ve done a lot of talking about how honeybees benefit us humans but not too much on how they benefit a garden. They truly are a natural addition to any garden or landscape. You could say they are mutually beneficial to one another. Honeybees are fantastic pollinators (keeping our flowers, veggies and trees producing) and a blooming garden is basically a wonderful foraging/food source for the bees.

So as we go into winter time I’ve found that letting some of my plants and herbs go to flower has been great nectar source for my bees. Specifically I’ve let my basil plants go to flower and the bees have just gone crazy for them. So as wintertime comes upon us and flowering plants become less and less available, it is nice to give the bees a few last options in the yard.

So I say, rather then tear out the veggie/herb garden and prep your beds for winter, let them go a little bit longer and your local honeybees will thank you!

Hive Diary / PART 6

Autumn’s amber harvest!

High whispy clouds, sunny warm “indian summer” days, high pressure off shore winds, pumpkin carving, Halloween, apple picking, raking leaves (if you got em) a slight chill to the early mornings and evenings and of course uncrowded fishing. These are all things I look forward to during my favorite part of each year. Well I can officially add one more great thing to look forward to for Fall / Autumn and that is a late honey harvest!

Mike came over roughly a week ago and harvested our honey out of our hive. Unfortunately I had to work that day so I was unable to participate in removing the frames from the hive and placing them in the centrifuge. There were not a lot to load but just enough to get a good and memorable supply of first harvest honey. Certainly enough to share with friends and family.

While I was unable to assist with the core extraction, Mike left the bulk honey in a 5 gallon bucket with spigot so our family could have fun and participate in jarring the honey. Mike also supplied us with 9oz. jars with lids.

We decided to pick a saturday to jar our honey so the whole family could participate. First observation, the honey was extremely thick – something Mike had noticed as well. Second observation, it was a dark amber color. This is not your golden Spring time honey! Third observation, this is an activity that the whole family can have fun with, from the pouring to the jar filling. Even the littlest of hands can help, especially to clean the empty bucket with their fingers!

We’ve even been able to come up with a custom label that will be applied to each of our jars announcing our special honey.

Bottom line, super fun and well worth the wait. I can almost guarantee that the best honey you’ll ever taste will be from your own hive’s first harvest!

A shout out to our honeybees, BRAVO and well done! All your hard work is sustaining your thriving hive and leaving a little left over to share with us. Thanks, you truly are the hardest working honeybees in Contra Costa County and you’ve been a great addition to the family!!!

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.

White House Honeybees

First ever honeybee hive is installed at the White House!

With the heated political environment these days, the last thing we wanted to do is go anywhere near the topic. But we did stumble upon one cool thing that does deserve some support and viewing. So Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Greens, lets all put our differences aside for a few minutes and watch a video highlighting the White House honeybees and their hive. Certainly something we all can agree upon, the support of the honeybee population.

Watch it here!

Hey! Just in case you are a beer lover (Brand Foreman is) take a look at this video too.

White House beer!

WIRED Magazine

WIRED Magazine is buzzing with informational articles on Honeybees.

This post was just starting out as a collection of links to articles that I’ve been seeing in various magazines and on various websites. One of those magazines is WIRED. If you are not familiar, it is a magazine (and website) chuck full of information on today’s latest cutting edge technology and it’s impact on the world and our daily lives. Locally produced in San Francisco!

This month’s mag has an article on Honey Counterfeiters and individuals responsible for tracking and identifying falsely labeled honey – BIG business evidently! The article is titled, “The Hive Minder: Pollen Detective Tracks Down Honey Counterfeiters”. Unfortunately they have not released it on their site – you’ll have to pick up the mag as of this post. However, and what I really wanted to get to with this post, is the broad collection of articles on honeybees they do have to read. Below is a list with links. We found them all very interesting and worth highlighting for our followers (oldest to newest):

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/epa-clothianidin-controversy/

http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/10/honeybee-orchestra/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/01/colony-collapse-lives/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/flowers-spread-bee-viruses/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/bees-insects-personality/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/neonicotinoids-bee-collapse/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/neonicotinoids-colony-collapse/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/04/neonicotinoids-gardens/

A lot of these focus on the plight of the honeybee and their decline over the past few years. Others focus on interesting facets of honeybees – who knew they might have personalities!? As we stated at the beginning of this BLOG, information is power, so we appreciate the thorough coverage that WIRED magazine has been providing it’s readers.

Are you a fan of WIRED Magazine? Is there another informational resource you think is equally as good? If so, let us know as we like spreading the “good word” on Honeybees!

Hungry Honeybees

For those who have never seen a honeybee eat!

This short video was taken right after a harvest in the East Bay. There were a few drops of honey on a pan that Mike left out for the bees to eat up. And they definitely did. The most interesting part (IMHO) is watching them use their proboscis to lick/suck up the honey. Turns out there are a lot of critters out there that have them!!! Check out the link above.

Good buzzing audio on this too!

Enjoy!