Here at Shine Hollow we grow all different kinds of trees and produce on our 70+ acre farm. We specialize in pears, strawberries, and almonds. But the food that I’m most proud of (that has a certain amount of danger to it) but comes to us the easiest is…honey! Honey and bees only made sense with all we had to pollinate. It was way to much work to hand pollinate so it was time to hire some 20,000 little workers to get the job done for us!
So in come the bees! We called up Bee Removal Phoenix, owned by Derek Abello, a native Arizonan beekeeper, to come help us start our apiary. It was no small task! We had to ship in 5 hives and all the equipment. We could have started on our own from swarms, but we really needed to get our trees pollinated so it was worth the expense. And we trusted Derek and were glad to have him help us!
So once the hives were set up we just had to provide water! The trees already have all the food! It was simple to hook up an automatic waterer. That way the bees wouldn’t be bothering our pool. And we had honey almost immediately! Those bees are hard workers. They got right to work and started building comb. The queen was laying eggs and making her brood and our hives were growing very fast. Our summers do get warm so we made sure to put them under the shade of our healthiest almond trees.
And it is as simple as that! From zero experience of being a beekeeper, overnight we became experts! Or rather the bees are experts for us! We just stood back and let them do their thing. We use the crush and strain method which enables us to sell the wax as well.
The initial reason we got bees was to increase production on our tree crops and it definitely worked! Our pear production went up 56% and our almond production went up 85%! We didn’t really track the strawberries but it was for sure their best year yet. It is such a happy feeling to be out in the garden or in the trees and see our 20,000 workers happily buzzing about! I used to be afraid of bees but now I just see such a sense of beauty in them. And besides, my fear was unfounded, because when they are pollinating they have no interest in stinging me. Their only job is to pollinate. They are way to busy to be bothered with me. Now don’t go near the hive though! That would be a totally different situation!
When we harvest honey (which I’ll post more about tomorrow) we always wear bee suits for protection. We got ours from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. The bees are very dangerous when it comes to defending their hive, protecting their queen, and guarding their precious honey. So we take care and use smokers (smoking only organic fuel such as wood chips we chip ourselves from our organic trees) and we try to disturb the as very little as possible. I haven’t gotten stung yet so it must be working!
I look forward to chatting with you again! Share in the comment below if you would ever want to keep bees or if you are too afraid! I’d love to hear from you!