Raw Unfiltered All-Natural Local California Honey

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FOTOS
photography by Erika Decker

A series of photographs in sequential order with commentary.

Paris Beekeepers 2009 Swiss 1980
Paris Beekeepers 2010 Swiss Beekeepers 2010
Devon Bee Association /UK 2010 Hamburg Beekeepers 1
OLMA Swiss / 2010 Hamburg Beekeepers 2
A Day In the Groves / December 2010 Canadian Beekeepers
Mesa/Tipi Clearing Before Bee Installation/May 2011 Barley Flats Volunteers 2011
Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend 2011 McGill University Apiary, Montreal 2012
Paris 2013 - Les Jardins Luxembourg Konstanz 2013

A Year Round View of Klausesbees California Beekeeping

Note: Regular checks to all sites are done once a week to note brood build up and pattern, mite and other infestation activity, and to monitor honey flow (hopefully, and/or to add extra supers where necessary). This is done throughout the year.

timeline

Bee keeping in California begins in October/November/December – cleaning hives – building boxes – maintaining bees throughout the long foodless winter with sugar syrup and medication using natural substances to rid mites and all other issues (there is NO HONEY FLOW at this time). This is the BUILDUP to getting ready for pollination of almond groves.

Working in the Winter
Building the Honey Supers

We winter our hives in the alfalfa fields (the last honey to be taken off) and avocado groves (the first honey to come).

Since the almond groves are in need of strong hives for pollination this is the time for beekeepers to import, split etc their bees to form the strong count needed for contracts. Hence, we import Australian bees. Winter here(no bees avail) and summer there(plenty) - we bring in 100 / 4pounder boxes - approx 10T+ bees per box, accompanied by a fructose syrup feeder and one queen per box - price in 2010 was $14,500. This was followed with 40 Hawaiian queens (each queen runs between $16-$25 - no additional bees this time) - the queens are used to split hives - taking frames with brood and some food then placing the new queens into empty hive boxes with those ‘swapped’ frames - the old hive still retaining its original queen, brood and food - hence THE SPLIT. This allows for an additional increase. All of this will again be followed by another 100 / 3pound Italian bee purchase from Northern California at a cost of $5,000.00. Total trip time - 10 to 14 hours round trip.

Prep Work Before Moving to the Almond Groves

Then we make the move to the almond groves – each year it is different – depending on the time of the bloom and the number of hives needed for each grove – 2 hives per acre – now cut to 1 + a half = the price dropped per hive. (example: we buy Aussie bees per box at $145 per and do pollination in 2010 at $120 per hive – a cut from last year. Interesting ‘gain’) The bloom changes each year – early/late February – 2-4 weeks long…. And then the move again (JAN-FEB-MAR).

Almond Move
Almond Pollination 2008
Almond Pollination 2010

We move the 1st set out to the orange groves. The 2nd set will go back to the avacado groves, and the 3rd set goes to the desert for whatever might be blooming at the time.

We move from the Almond Groves to the Oranges in Riverside with usually 60 hives – the rancher benefits either way whether there is nectar for HONEY for us or not. The grove gets pollinated and his crop is increased by 18%. The travel time from the almond to the oranges in Riverside is a split – we finish the loading up around 9pm / we have been on the road since 4pm. We take the luxury of resting up at a local motel departing at 4am for Riverside. #99 to #5, up and over the Grape Vine, into the Los Angeles area to #60 Pamona onto the #91 Riverside Freeway and orange groves. We arrive around 8am to unload and set up hives with added supers for honey flow. We will return in a week’s time to check on status of the bees. When bloom is finished we will leave and bring the hives up to the Crest area.

Orange Groves

IF there is a DESERT BLOOM we will rush off to the high desert – short period/ last year nothing in return for the effort. But there have been bountiful years in the past. Desert Honey is a very tricky adventure – IF the weather is too cold then the bees do not fly and the flowers close up; If the weather is too hot the flowers simply dry up; IF the night is too warm then the moths fly and suck up the nectar before the bees can on their daily runs.... IF IF IF.  That is the name of this game.

Desert Bloom      Superceding

Then the bulk go back to the AVOCADO groves in Carpenteria to build up and hopefully gain honey through to May.

As is customary at this time of year (April) when the Almond Grove hives have been dispersed to the Oranges, Avocadoes and potential Desert bloom, we trek up to Orland, north of Sacramento to pick up new bees which will be placed into the Angeles Crest for the upcoming honey flow.  The drive from Tehachapi ranch (4,600ft) is 4+hours (add 2+ if coming from Hill House) - north on #58 to #99 then connecting to the #5N into Sacramento (25ft) and then further north to Orland with our F350 - we will pick up 100 boxes of 3 pound bees($5T). We may repeat this trek twice a year depending on the loss of bees (CCD or otherwise). And depending on our energy level we will either spend the night and then drive back the following morning or simply trek the 14 some hours straight. If the prepared hive boxes have not already been placed at the sites we will then caravan with the large C7000 truck (from ranch) with the now loaded empty boxes ready for 'housing the new arrivals' and make our way to the Mesa/TP and other available sites.

The drive north takes us through some of the most interesting agricultural land - groves of almond, walnut and pistachio nuts;  orange, grapefruit, cherry, tangerine, mandarin, apple, peach, nectarine, apricot fruits;  through highly pungent ‘perfumed’ miles and miles of  dairy farms; expansive vineyards for as far as the eye can see grown for wines, table grapes and raisin lovers; fields of crops/ cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, beets etc.; the endless flooded rice patties (2nd largest in the world) north of Sacramento (one of the largest exporters to Japan)....

The Central Valley (also known as "The Valley") is a large, flat valley that dominates the central portion of the U.S. and state of California.  It is home to many of California's most productive agricultural efforts. The valley stretches approximately 800 kilometres (500 mi) from north to south. Its northern half is referred to as the Sacramento Valley, and its southern half as the San Joaquin Valley.

The Sacramento valley receives about 20 inches of rain annually, but the San Joaquin is very dry, often semi-arid desert in many places. The two halves meet at the shared Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, a large expanse of interconnected canals, streambeds, sloughs, marshes and peat islands. The Central Valley is around 42,000 square miles (110,000 km2), making it roughly the same size as the state of Tennessee.

Virtually all non-tropical crops are grown in the Central Valley, which is the primary source for a number of food products throughout the United States.

Avocado Groves

After the HONEY FLOW is finished at the AVOCADO groves and the ORANGE has been retrieved all are moved up the Los Angeles Crest area – this year we shall have to see as the August ’09 fires pretty much wiped out our sites and food source for the bee. (JUNE-JULY-AUG)

Leaving the Avocado Groves, the Pacific Coast Highway leaves us breathless, once again - cool water breezes, salty air, turmoil and calm...

Pacific Coast Highway

Due to the fires of August 2009 in the Angeles Crest the sites of Brown Mountain, The Mesa and CC Ridge have been closed for 2010 – there will be no access to these three sites, hence no honey from them.

The Mesa - TP
CC Ridge and The Swarm
Housing the Newly Acquired Bees
Brown Mountain
Barley Flats
Flora of Angeles Crest

We have held these sites since the 70’s and will continue to until it is time to return. This is a big loss for us as these sites take up our summer months.

The Fires of August 2009

We have managed to access Barley Flats from Big Tujunga, the back side- hives are now in place once again and the bees are busy on renewed growth.

We moved the Orange Blossom hives from Riverside at the close of their blossom (honey was taken off - a first orange blossom for us).

The Mesa - TP /2010
The Mesa - TP /2011
Barley Flats-2010
Barley Flats-2011

CC Ridge 2011

The Mojave Mountains, private property, is also once again being used by the ‘ladies’ for our summer harvesting of wildflower etc...

Cows Hill/Quartz 2010
Cows Hill/Quartz 2011

Buckwheat season has begun in the desert and we are there...

Buckwheat

We always end in the ALFALFA fields

Alfalfa Fields

and take off HONEY in and during the summer months with all finishing/ bottled/ labeled and stored by end of September.

Taking Off the Honey

And then we start all over again…