As modern beekeepers with employees and mortgages to pay and babies and dogs to feed, we can’t just manage our bees to make a decent honey crop and call it good.  Under that scenario, we’d be writing this from debtors’ prison!  Instead, we seize opportunities that sometimes present themselves over the course of the year to make a few extra bucks.  In years that our hives are strong and healthy enough to handle what is called “shaking,” we shake extra bees from our colonies and sell them by the pound to other beekeepers who are trying to build up the strength of their own hives.

This is one of those years, and so Honeydew, Darling-Brother-in-Law, Keith, and Neil are as busy as, well … you get the idea … down in springy California, shaking bees for sale.  Here’s a few shots of the process that DBIL sent to keep me in the loop near Babb, Montana, where snows still blanket the ground and the wind was howling in a tortured fashion last night.

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Neil, smoking bees.  Did you know that the reason smoke calms the bees is that the bees are gluttons?  When they smell the smoke and think that their hives are on fire, they don’t evacuate.  Instead, they stuff their bellies so full with honey that they become lethargic, as though they’d just eaten Thanksgiving dinner at Big Mama’s house, and they loll about on their smoky couches.  There’s your fun fact for the day.

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When a beekeepers orders bees-by-the-pound, he or she generally provides his own “bulk bee boxes.”  We fill them with “shake bees” – this picture is the screened top of such a box.

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Here’s a panoramic view of such bulk bee boxes.

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It’s warm in California, and our colonies are strong and healthy enough to be hanging out in front of the entrances to their hives – we are feeling very grateful, as the current state of commercial beekeeping is not so rosy for many for our colleagues.

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Honeydew and Keith, discussing the next course of action for shaking bees in a holding yard.

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Honeydew.

I miss him.

Has any beekeeper ever looked more handsome in Wranglers and collared shirts?

Too much information, you say?  Or was that, “Steve Park” I heard instead?

Huh.

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Good work, Honeydew and crew.  Shake-shake-shake!

2013.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All photo credits to Travis Looney.  All rights reserved.

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