OMG…..yes I’m back after a week. We’ve had quite a week with a few upcoming plans I wanted to share. Bees will be joining our team very soon……once it warms up enough. I can’t remember if I mentioned how popular raw honey is at the market. Its a very popular but it comes from Temecula. Nothing wrong with that, its within an hour drive. I think its local but from visitor questions and reactions, they would much prefer honey from around the corner. We respect that, its not an unreasonable expectation. Since honey is such a draw there is incentive to go down that path.
Now bees were always part of the orchard plan but I was very much focused on the major systems such as the trees and the fish ponds. Bees were a supporting system for the trees. But we needed to change our plans to meet our budget. The land has numerous native trees that bloom and can support bees for honey production. The main challenge is that neither Mike or I have experience with bees. This was seen as a challenge that we could hopefully surpass after doing some local searches.
I mean, there has to be somebody in the area that wrangle bees and knows how to collect honey. After sometime and thankfully Mike’s knack for conversations with everybody that visits the market, we found our Master Beekeeper. Yay!! Great guy, local, loves to talk about bees and teach. I’m willing to learn, bees are fascinating after you get over the swarming and stinging. So we got our professor, what’s left is the bees, their home, and a good location.
Not sure if you knew this but bees are pricey, they are only available during certain season, and you best hope that you can drive there to pick them up. I’ve seen colony prices range from $170 to $350. Then their home is about $100. Real cute boxes with a roof, often painted white. Part of our project fundraiser is tagging these beehives. You can contribute to the project and get one side of the hive. I will be branding whatever phrase or name you’d like to adorn the bee homes. Mike and I disagreed on whether branding is a good idea. He said painting the tag on would be better but I got our Master Beekeeper to agree with branding because supposedly the bees enjoy the burn smell. It felt really good to be right.
Next is the location. This had to take a pause because of the constant rain and cold……road washing out. We plan to walk through the land and find a protected area close to some blossoming trees. The main ones are manzanita, sugar sumac, and mesquite. Sugar sumac has the highest concentration. Learned that manzanita are really good for honey production. Don’t freak out, this is not the protected variety. There are many species of manzanita and fortunately for us we don’t have the protected one on the land, phew. But since we won’t have single type of blossom for the bees we can’t attribute the honey to one type of shrub. It’ll basically be wildflower variety.
Then added to that is the super bloom. Have you heard of it? Its where all these desert flowers that usually don’t bloom unless they get the right amount of rain and weather conditions. And we got the perfect conditions this year! The desert will be blanketed in flowers. Pretty big deal.
Looking forward to the warmth slowly returning so that we can welcome our bees to their new home. I can’t remember it ever being this cold since we’ve moved to San Diego. But it brought much needed rain and snow packs that was also severely needed. Can’t complain too much, just anxiously wait for the temperature to rise so I can sweat my ass off in a beekeeping suit. Wish me luck…..think I might name our queens 😀