Raw Unfiltered All-Natural Local California Honey

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Housing the Newly Acquired Bee

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Maintenance - Brown Mountain JPL Back Lot

One of the prettier sites - large fir trees with Widow Maker Cones (so called due to their extreme weight when falling on a head), cactus and heavy foliage. Often we drive up the mountain path with the Land Rover rather than the F350.

The beekeeper must 'guard' the sites in the mountains from bears and other wild animals (humans not to be left out). Hence an electric fence is installed with enough of a jolt to 'discourage' entry. No kill - just a solid jolt. An alarm system is also installed so that a noise will loudly 'scream' out to give warning to the intruder. The sound changes after each activation.

Bears though have a tendency of coming up under the ground wire and hence demolishing hives and doing great damage to the hive box, honey and the bees themselves. Thousands of dollars are lost as a result - in boxes, honey and the primary - bee loss.

Skunks, being carnivores, politely 'tap' on the wooden entrance ledge of the hive box, which causes the bee to come out to check who is there and dinner is had. The skunk is not interested in the honey.

Wasps, also carnivores, can take over a hive and eat all inhabitants.

Swallows, in particular, will swoop down and devour the bees as they return from their foraging. The toxicity of the bee sting apparently does not bother the birds.

Humans have been know to sabotage the fence and then invade the site, removing full hive boxes and or individual frames to take the honey, thus killing the bees in the process. Sometimes the hive box will be seen somewhere down the road discarded with the contents all shredded - the bees fought back. Other times the beekeeper will actually find an empty jar in place of a removed frame - the intent was for the bee to simply fill it with honey so that the human returning could then enjoy the ill gotten gains. Obviously the bee does not comply.

Maintenance on the sites is an ongoing process - clearing the weeds and debris of forest life and human garbage. Water is brought in and stored in large drums for the bees - a float method of distribution in a bowl. The electric fence is powered by batteries that are in turn powered by solar panel.

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The bees are bought from bee breeders - some locally while others are imported from Australia. Breeders have introduced Italian, Russian and Israeli...with whom we work.

The bees travel in wooden carriers, the size of a large shoe box - usually 1-2-3 or 4pound swarms in quantities of 100 - 200 - packages.  A full colony in a hive can average from 30,000 to 80,000 in number. An inclusion of a small queen cage, the size of a matchbox, is included slipped into a slot at the top of the box. This allows the bees to pick up and exchange scents thus 'connecting' the bees to one another as a 'unit’. The sides of both the large and small boxes are mesh for air circulation. A plastic jar size of fructose is included in the large carrier to feed the bees on their travel. The queen box often has a sugar 'cork' which she can eat out or her entourage can should they accept her.  Otherwise they will kill her while in her box, or the moment she enters the new hive box.

The bees are first sprayed with a light fructose water which will make them wet and hence slow to fly - this enables the beekeeper to 'shake' them out into the new hive box - less flying means more bees to actually enter the new housing box as verse to encouraging a swarming.... And less cost flying into the air.  Bees are extremely costly – in the thousands....

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The bees are gently 'shaken' into the new hive box and the small fructose is usually included in the box - two frames on one side having been taken out to accommodate.  The queen is left in her carrier for a day or two to allow the bees to 'prepare' for her entrance. Then the fructose carrier jar is removed and the beekeeper will 'release' the queen from her travel box and the colony will be on its own. A fresh fructose bucket is placed on top of the newly introduced hive box for a period of a week to allow the bees the luxury of becoming acquainted with their new surroundings and their new food source to come.

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