When Brother Dear was here last week, we drove him an hour south to Chico, home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., for a tour of the facilities — if you don’t know, Brother Dear is a Super Beer Geek and creates incredibly tasty brews in our pump house – Sierra Nevada is kind of where it all started for Beer Geeks. Anyway, the roads from here to Chico are lined with almonds, walnuts, and olives, and pallets of bee hives everywhere. Northern California is completely inundated with bees and beekeepers, and Brother Dear and I were amazed.
This week, Honeydew was constantly on the phone, discussing hive numbers, strength, location, and when the almond growers are likely to call for the bees to go into the orchards. He and Keith – rehired for spring and summer! – spent a lot of time out in the holding yards, going through all of our hives to check on their readiness to go into the almonds. You can’t just throw a hive of half dead bees into an orchard and expect it do much almond pollinating – and you can’t expect an almond grower to pay you for your lack of effort, either. Bees are “graded” when they go into the almonds, a process I’ll go into another day, but suffice it to say, we’re inspecting the bees right now prior to their “grade.”
Honeydew has been in a mighty good mood all week – he can never be sure just what he’ll find when he goes out to work the bees for the first time since fall. Sometimes the bees eat more honey than he anticipated, or sometimes they’re struck by disease, but the end result is that most beekeepers will find a few dead hives this time of year. And so the topic of “loss” is a hot one in beekeeping households right now.
However, we don’t normally have loss due to fire like these hives below!
Yep, somehow the tenants near our “junkyard holding yard” set two of our hives on fire. Not sure how they managed to do that, but awfully happy it was only two! However, even with the fire, our loss rate is only at 3.3% – and that IS smokin’ hot! We’re happy campers right now.
Not so much heat at the Warehome right now, though. Brother Dear sent us this picture yesterday.
And suddenly, I’m not homesick at all …
2012. Glacier County Honey Co. Some photo credits to Sanford Stone. All Rights Reserved.