Spring Has Sprung!

Spring BeesThe rain has finally started falling in Northern California bringing green pastures, tree blossoms and wildflowers.  Some of our hives have finished pollinating almond orchards and are exploding with activity!  In the photo to the left, you can see hundreds of bees hanging out of the hives’ doors.  The bees are busy making honey and gathering up pollen from the spring wildflowers that are just starting to pop open.  The queens in our hives are laying about 1,000 or more eggs everyday, and the hives are starting to get overcrowded.  When the hives can no longer house the large number of bees in the colony, the bees will create a new queen and swarm.  We’ve been finding lots of new queen cells in our hives lately, which means we’ve got to be on our toes.  If the bees swarm, half of the bees will fly off with the old queen.  We’ve been removing the new queen cells and using them to start new colonies in new hive boxes.  We take some bees from the old colony and put them into new hives with a queen cell.  This gives the new hives a nice place to start and gives the old hives more room to breathe.  When the queen cell hatches, the new queen will fly off to mate and return to her hive to begin laying eggs.

Honey boxes and our fork liftWe’ve also begun placing our honey boxes on top of the hives to give the bees a bigger area to live and a place to store all of that delicious honey that they are bringing in.  In the picture to the right you can see the honey boxes on the top of the hives, as well as our new forklift for the heavy lifting.  If you look closely, you can see the bees in mid flight as they pass in front of the camera.

So far this year we haven’t had to catch a swarm, but we will… guaranteed.  If fact, that might just be the next blog post…

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“Zombie” Fly Parasite Killing Honeybees

From Scientific American

A parasitic fly landing on a honeybee.

A parasitic fly landing on a honeybee.
Courtesy of Christopher Quock

A heap of dead bees was supposed to become food for a newly captured praying mantis. Instead, the pile ended up revealing a previously unrecognized suspect in colony collapse disorder—a mysterious condition that for several years has been causing declines in U.S. honeybee populations, which are needed to pollinate many important crops. This new potential culprit is a bizarre—and potentially devastating—parasitic fly that has been taking over the bodies of honeybees (Apis mellifera) in Northern California.

John Hafernik, a biology professor at San Francisco State University, had collected some belly-up bees from the ground underneath lights around the University’s biology building. Read More »

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Asian Honey, Banned in Europe, Is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves

“Asian Honey, Banned in Europe, Is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves”
FDA has the laws needed to keep adulterated honey off store shelves but does little, honey industry says.

by Andrew Schneider | Aug 15, 2011

honeycombA third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals.  A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities. Read More »

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Pollinators in Peril

“Pollinators in Peril”
Written by Oliver Woodier, Advanced Master Gardener

Help save the bees!To help stem the decline of pollinators it is recommended that gardeners cut back on pesticide use, create nectar-filled gardens and provide and protect nesting sites. Home gardeners should if possible, plant native wildflowers adapted to local/regional soil and climatic conditions. These and other small steps you can take in your yard can make a big difference for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Read More »

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Creating a Pollinator Garden

Honey Bee Visiting a FlowerChoose a location in full sun and, if possible, in the shelter of a wall or large shrubs. Fill the bed with a variety of native plants or a mix of natives and old fashioned cultivated favorites that are high in nectar. Use long blooming annuals and shorter blooming perennials so there is an unbroken sequence of nectar to feed the pollinators from early spring until they hibernate or migrate in the fall. Everyone should have fragrant winter honeysuckle. It starts blooming in the middle of winter and blooms to May, feeding bees early. Others include bee balm, trumpet vine, abelia, beauty bush, Read More »

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Local Honey and Allergies

Ahhhhchooooo!The following articles are by Mr. Tom Ogren, the author of five published books, including Allergy-free Gardening, and also of, Safe Sex in the Garden both from Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California. Tom does consulting on allergies and landscaping for, among others, the USDA urban foresters, the American Lung Association, for county asthma coalitions, landscape, nursery and arborists’ associations, and for www.Allegra.com. Tom’s work on plants and allergies has been published in hundreds of magazines and newspapers worldwide, Read More »

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Plant a garden that welcomes nature’s insect pollinators

I'm a hungry bee!“Great Gardening”
Written by Sally Cunningham

Elementary school teachers and naturalists preach that insects are our friends, but we still have a largely insect-phobic culture. When Mom screeches upon seeing a bee, when Uncle Joe kills every insect he sees and when the horror movie features giant spiders, little Johnnie learns fear. Read More »

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