Bounty of bees

This Sunday I took a class with the Alameda Beekeeping Society featuring Randy Oliver. Randy is this amazing beekeeper and breeder who lives in Grass Valley and reads tons of scientific studies about bees, digests it, and then feeds it back to the general beekeeping public. He is thoughtful and funny and his presentations are wonderful. I didn’t want him to stop talking. It was fun too, because I got to see my friends Alan and Mary and meet new beekeepers. Here’s just a sample of some things I learned:
-Bees have a little appendage on their front legs which snaps open and allows them to groom their antennae
-Beekeepers were paid over $150 per colony to pollinate the almond crop this year
-When you see a bee sitting still somewhere on a cold day, it is probably shivering invisibly until its body temp goes up enough to fly again
-Bees generate 400 watts of electromagnetic energy by flying, so when they land on a flower, the pollen zaps onto their bodies
-In a German experiment, two queens each had one of their mandibles removed, and they lived together in peace in a colony together (this is good because you’ll have more workers laid and thus more honey).
As the day ended, Alan got a phone call from a guy with a swarm in his yard. Alan said, “wanna go get a swarm?” Oh yeah. The house was just down the street, in an oak tree. Sorry I didn’t have my camera. But basically it was a small swarm of about 2 pounds of bees. We chopped off the limb, stuck it in the box, and relocated the beauties to my lot in Oakland.

My equipment is pretty weather-beaten, but I found a few frames that weren’t totally f-ed, and viola, a new home for the bees. They seem to be adjusting well, I gave them some sugar water because a cold front has moved in. I’ll probably give these ladies to my friend Marg who doesn’t have bees yet but wants them.

If anyone wants to come to the farm tour here, I’m having one tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10am. Just stop by and meet the baby goats!

4 responses to “Bounty of bees

  1. C(h)ristine

    Hey Novella I just emailed you a picture of a bee swarm, taken when I was at hedgebrook!

    I may come by tomorrow–it’s my day off and I really want to see the little goats. 🙂

  2. Riana Lagarde

    wow, bare-handed too! hope that the open garden went well!!

  3. That was a fun meeting with Randy. My question is whether you will try, as Randy hinted, frying up the drone larvae for dinner?! -C.

  4. Novella Carpenter

    hi chris; yeah, i’d like to try it. but have you had those vietnamese duck eggs? so gross. but maybe the larvae will be tasty.

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