Country Bees

Tomorrow, we will move two of this Spring’s beehive splits to a new host property. It’s always exciting when splits flourish, and it’s a relief to have a wonderful place to keep these two.

I’m especially excited, though, by this particular location. Only 4.6 miles (and 12 minutes!) from our decidedly suburban neighborhood, this new property sits on the crest of a hill at about 500 feet (compared to our lowly ~15 foot elevation). The property is hot, dry, and exposed, but these hives will live in a cooler microclimate under an old oak tree. 20 feet away, there’s a Toyon tree in bloom. I cannot wait to taste the honey these bees make!

The bees themselves come from one of our longest-lived lines and are our best honey producers. I split them in suburbia in April, then moved them to a temporary rural location, where the queens mated.

Tonight, we’ll go out in the dark to close up the hive entrances. We’ll site the hives on the new property tomorrow morning.

Looking down the slope to the chosen hive location.

Looking down the slope to the chosen hive location.

We hope this cooler microclimate won't be too damp and chilly in the winter.

We hope this cooler microclimate won’t be too damp and chilly in the winter.

We also hope the old oak tree won't drop branches on the hives. Yikes!

We also hope the old oak tree won’t drop branches on the hives. Yikes!

We'll move the two hives on the left to this new property. The larger one might be having some queen troubles, though their population looks great. If needed, we can combine the two later. The queen in the smaller hive has a fantastic brood pattern.

We’ll move the two hives on the left to this new property. The larger one might be having some queen troubles, though their population looks great. If needed, we can combine the two later. The queen in the smaller hive has a fantastic brood pattern.

4 Responses to Country Bees

  1. Excellent! Thanks for helping keep bees healthy and thriving.

    • Oh boy. Well, read my response to Jackie. It’s a stressful year for the hives that aren’t in our suburban environments. Thanks for writing.

  2. Update please! That certainly does look an ideal spot for your bees with shelter from the gorgeous old oak tree and having read recently about yet another Californian drought (or is it the same extended one?) I’m sure you’re doing the right thing.
    At the weekend as I watered tomato and cucumber plants in my greenhouse I heard the unmistakable buzz of a swarm and popped my head outside just in time to see them head into my empty hive… whoopee! My neighbour’s colony had swarmed a month ago and done the same but 3 days later headed out again, apparently not satisfied with their new surroundings so this time I’ve placed a queen excluder on the floor so the queen can’t leave and also placed a tray of last year’s honey under the roof because our weather is a little unpredictable at the moment.
    Hopefully your weather isn’t interfering too much with your veggie crops and life is as productive as ever!

    • Well, the challenge this year is forage. Our drought has impacted our typical summer nectar flow, making it come early, and probably influencing the amount of nectar that flowers produce. We have fed the bees initially, as we have found that the bees might be controlling their population sizes in response to the dearth of forage, and feeding them seems to inspire more egg-laying by the queen. We’ll see. We need to mull over whether we will stop feeding, and the bees that are able to make it on their own make it on their own – or, whether we will continue to feed so that they can build up decent stores for winter. Another El Nino year is predicted for us, but they have predicted an El Nino for the last few winters. The fallout would be that bees would be unable to fly for long stretches this upcoming winter. Tough decisions to make!

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