With beekeeping, you really never know what to expect!  Our honeybees did not fare very well over the winter and we had to replace nearly 80% of them this spring.  It was snowing on and off when I installed the relocated California girls in their new homes and released the queens.  It is amazing how adaptable this tropical insect can be.

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Installing honey bee packages in the cold…Bryan is holding the queen cage with a large cluster of attendants trying to keep the queen warm.

I am frequently asked how we get replacement honey bees.  We buy 3 pound packages of bees, complete with a mated queen in the breed of our choice, from an apiary in Northern California.  They are trucked over land in climate controlled trucks with thousands of other packages for other beekeepers.  This many bees give off a lot of heat and require oxygen to survive so ventilation and air conditioning is a must.

Northern California honey bees in their shipping cages - this year we ordered Italian and Carniolan hybirds

Northern California honey bees in their shipping cages – this year we ordered Italian bees and a Carniolan hybrid.

In the picture above, you can see that there are very few dead bees on the floor of these cages. They have been on the road for over a week now.  See the hitch hikers on the outside of the cage? These make many nervous, especially those riding in the car with me when I am transporting the packages to my different bee yards.   Just like the bees in the packages, they are nearly harmless unless you try to pinch one.  It seems that the separation from their original hive and the ride here from California has them in the least defensive state you will ever see a honey bee.  It makes handling and installing honey bee packages a snap and I am normally able to complete the task with gloves and a veil as the only protective gear  I don as opposed to full on garb when we we check hives or remove honey.

I have to say that these are some of the most active and healthy honeybees I have received in years so we are hopeful for a quick start if the weather cooperates.  Even though there is little for the bees to forage this spring due to the cold weather, my hives have plenty of capped honey comb and stored pollen left over from the previous tenants who did not make it over winter.  The new residents can start their build up of worker bees immediately if they are so inclined.  The bloom is still weeks away.

Are you ready for some fresh, local, raw honey?  You are more than welcome to stop by our home in Clarkston.  Please call first before coming by to make sure we will be home.  Click here see what size bottles we sell.