A day in the Central Valley with Bill's Bees!

Posted by William Lewis on

Cordelia and her mom spent a day in the Central Valley with their friends from Bill's Bees.

Here is a video we made about our Almond Adventure at the end of February. We premiered it at the Long Beach Beekeepers club meeting this morning. 

Text of voiceover: Hi! My name is Cordelia, and I’m 11 years old. About a month ago me and my mom had a fun beekeeping adventure. We went to help Bill’s Bees. We had to wake up super early that day. We drove over the mountains all the way from Long Beach to the Central Valley, because that’s where the almonds are. We followed Bill’s truck loaded with 216 empty supers. We put on our suits and taped our boots to our pants. Then I found a huge tumble weed that I wanted to bring home, but my mom wouldn’t let me. I named it Tumbly. Stacey and I got to ride in the back of the bee truck which moved very slowly. It was really fun. First, Stacey would open the hives and scrape off propolis into a cardboard box. Then I would smoke all the bees so they would go down. My mom would pass Bill and Jeremy boxes from the truck, and then they would put on queen excluders and supers. After that we would move on to the next cluster of hives. We did the same thing over and over again for the whole day. We went to three different locations. In the middle of the day we had Subway for lunch. It was not as bad as I thought it would be. I usually don’t like Subway. We finally finished around 3, but it felt like 6. I was soooo tired after working all those hives. It was a really fun day, but I sure was glad to get out of my bee suit and go jump around in the (dry) Kern River bed! **Educational notes from mom** Many farmers of different crops hire beekeepers to help in the pollination process each year. February is almond pollination season. There are many more crop flowers than there are natural pollinators in the Central Valley, so beekeepers are crucial to the farming industry. The hives were placed a few weeks prior to our visit. During those few weeks, the bees had been hard at work, pollinating the flowers, but also collecting nectar and pollen and bringing it back to the hives. The purpose of our visit was to add more room for the colonies to continue to grow. Each colony comes out of winter with about 20,000 - 30,000 bees. Over the next few months, that number will double or triple, as different flowers bloom and the colonies thrive. In order to keep the bees from swarming (a process in which they move to a new home, because their existing home has become too small), a beekeeper must provide room for them to expand. And that's what we did. We added what is called a "super" to each stack, as well as a "queen excluder." A queen excluder is a narrow grate that keeps the queen from being able to move up to that new box (the super). It ensures that she will continue to lay her eggs in the bottom boxes, which we call "brood boxes" and NOT in the "honey supers," which the worker bees will fill with fresh nectar and pollen. I mean, hey, when you pour that delicious raw honey over your pancakes, you don't want to find eggs and larvae in it, do you? "Super" refers to "extra" or "additional." They are meant to store extra honey, which can be harvested by the beekeeper or left for the bees. Also, we taped our boots to our pants so the bees couldn't get in, and "propolis" is bee glue. They make it using resins from trees and other substances. They use it to seal up and glue everything. Beekeepers sometimes scrape off the excess to keep things from getting too gunked up. Also, humans use it for various health benefits, in the form of tinctures, etc. Finally, this is not Cordelia's first experience with bees. She has been a beekeeper for several years. This was just our first time experiencing commercial beekeeping in the field.

Photo Credit: Stacey, Jeremy, and Di Subway lunch provided by: Bill Presentation arranged by: Cordelia Program: Canva Technical Assistance: Roberta Cameo: Tumbly This has been a #littlestbeekeeper production.

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