Healthy and happy bees create hives by swarming, a natural occurrence were hives split into two groups. The queen leaves with half of the hive, while the other half stays to support a new queen in the old hive.
We encourage this type of hive reproduction by moving the queens and bees to new hives prior to swarming. We selectively pick the hives to split based on traits that indicate better genetics. This way with each generation we are hopefully breading bees that will better survive in our local environment without having to use chemicals or medications. We call this doing splits. In January and February, we build new boxes and frames to allow our bees the room to grow.
I might add that the dry and warm 2015 winter has made for some very happy bees for this time of year. All of our hives are strong and look ready for a productive year.
We love bees. Many years ago our son and daughter introduced us to bees. Yes that’s right, learning something from your kids. They attended the Saint Helena Montessori School and had a teacher, Rob Keller that inspired a love of bees.
After reading about the plight of bees throughout the world, I thought that maybe we could start some hives and try to keep bees in a sustainable way. What started as a couple of boxes are now 20 hives located throughout the ranch. The more I work with bees the more I am amazed at just what they accomplish. Sure, they make honey, but they also pollinate much of what we eat, and as you delve into their hives the incredible society that they have and the comb they build are truly inspiring.
Understanding the bees diet has also caused us to re-evaluate what we plant as cover crops and as landscaping. Trying to insure a year round supply of nectar and pollen is a primary consideration for plant selection.
When visiting, Timm will be more then willing to spend some time talking bees.