Originally Posted by Candice Crawford on Monday, November 28, 2011
Things have been buzzing up on the Farm in the last month. We have tilled under the garden and planted some cover crops for the winter. Colby has been busy planning next spring’s additional garden space layout, a swath of “bee food”, as well as figuring what we will plant for 2012 CSA.
Another exciting development is the attention we are giving to the bees on the Farm. We have a new beekeeper, Rob Keller, of Napa Valley Bee Company. Check out his blog at www.napavalleybeecompany.com. He has a great way with words and an incredible passion for bees. He came out and inspected our existing hives only to discover that two of the hives were from a hive he had split one Easter while at a friend’s house. He was very happy to see how these hives had done and is excited to follow them, as they are “great stock”. Rob has a wonderful attitude towards beekeeping that works well with Clif Family Farm’s philosophy. Of course, we are interested in procuring honey, but we are first and foremost interested in healthy bees. He believes in the sharing of knowledge and experience in order to improve the bee situation throughout the county. Upon inspection, Rob discovered that our bees would do better in a sunnier location. Although it is hot in Pope Valley in the summer, their spot was too shady and damp for the winter. Their hive boxes are insulated so the heat is not as much of an issue as the dampness. In order to move the hives we needed to move them first to a location at least 3 miles away for the bees to reset their GPS…or you can move them about a foot per day! If you try to just move them a few hundred yards away, they will return to the old spot and swarm until they run out of energy. Interesting critters!
So we decided to move them down to the Farm at the Montessori School, where Rob teaches, for about 10 days to let them adjust and then move them back to their new home on the Farm. We have some photos of their transport and new temporary home. I was interested to understand how they adjust and Rob had me stand back and watch them. As soon as we removed the burlap that was put in the hives for transport, the bees started to come out of the hive to figure out where they were. They fly in gradually larger circles around the hive until they acclimate. We plan to move them back to their new spot at the Farm next week so they can winter in the sun!