8.04.2011

Whacha Gonna Do With All Those (Chilly) Bees?


We have an obstacle and it’s called fog. We have another called cold, as in summers never getting above 60 except for the rare days when it hits 62 and we all rush outside, get sunburned and, for a day, look like we live in California. 

Otherwise, we and our bees practically hibernate. We can travel to get our Vitamin D but the bees aren't joining us in the car. On their own, they can go about three miles. Three miles east doesn't get them to the sunny side of San Francisco, and twenty blocks west is the Pacific Ocean. We feel like bee scientists, pushing the limits of bee toleration when it comes to living in adverse pollen-gathering weather conditions.

To survive winter, bees need a summer. Our girls need a better spot.

They have the best spot possible at my mom’s, but she agreed to a few hives. A few is two, and she's hosting that many hive stands, both full. She's not complaining, yet. In fact, the first thing she does every morning is to hike up her hill and say hello to the girls.

Less than six months ago a car rolled down from the house above and landed in her pool. The area all nicely cleared off, all ready for bees? A car ran through it. Sure it's only happened once in 39 years, but doesn't lightning strike twice in the same place?

We asked our CSA if they wanted bees and they said, “There’s a hive here already but if you think we should have more, go ahead.”

Charlie was ready to load up a hive and go, but I thought it'd be best to visit first being that their location was warmer, but just as foggy. While touring all their acres of broccoli and cabbage and so many different vegetables that I couldn't recognize, the hive's owner came by. We knew she was the hive's owner because who else would get out of a car wearing a full bee suit, including veil?

Cat said she's on a mission: to catch swarms and install them on organic farms up and down the coast. She wasn’t doing it for the money – is there money? – but to help establish bees on the coast, and to support organic farmers.

Later on we learned we weren't able to put one of our hives on the CSA property. The CSA only leases, so they didn't have the final say. Cat found out and told us, “There are a lot of other farms needing hives. Let’s keep in touch. We'll work it out.”

She mentioned she sold her honey at the Pacifica Farmer’s Market. “You ought to stop by,” she said. “Farmer John will be there. He’s a good guy. Maybe he'd want one of your hives.”

Farmer's Markets are the best excuse to buy cookies, so we stopped by. With a mouthful of cashew creams and whoopie pies, we were introduced to Farmer John. 

“Cat’s crazy," he said. "You can do whatever you like, just go through her. You beekeepers are crazy.”

We were too stuffed with sugar to argue.