NEW HARVEST - Bill's Bees 100% Raw Avocado Honey

Bill's Bees 100% Raw Avocado Honey

NEW HARVEST - Bill's Bees 100% Raw Avocado Honey! Now Available!

From April to June we take some of our honey bees to help pollinate avocados in the avocado orchards of Ventura County, CA. The nectar from avocado blossoms makes a dark, rich buttery honey with a subtle taste of avocado. The unique taste can be used in a variety of ways: in your smoothies, delicious on toast, in cooking recipes which call for honey. It can be used as a substitute for sugar or molasses. Use Avocado Honey to create your own homemade facial masks, shampoos and conditioners. With its high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, you can also use it on cuts and burns to help aid the healing process. Bill's Bees 100% Raw Avocado Honey - unfiltered, unprocessed - Just the Way the Bees Made It!

Enjoy!

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Bill's Bees Honey at the Theodore Payne Foundation

Theodore Payne Foundation

When you're searching for the ideal wild flowers and  native plants for your garden, visit The Theodore Payne Foundation.  Buzz by their book/gift/seed shop and pick up some of Bill's Bees 100% raw, natural, local honey.  Bill's Bees honey bees forage in the local San Gabriel Mountains and bring back nectar from a variety of wild flowers and native plants to make delicious Buckwheat, Sage Wildflower and Wildflower honeys.  10459 Tuxford Streed, Sun Valley, CA 91352 (818) 768-1802. http://theodorepayne.org/

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Bees For Sale

Bill's Bees has 2018 Bees for Sale! Order NOW for Spring delivery. We sell only Italian Honey Bees with known gentle genetics that are easy to work with and build up abundantly for pollination and honey production. Whether you are a new beekeeper or already an experienced beekeeper, these bees are perfect for you. Our VSH-Italian Queen Bees are from our favorite breeders in Northern California where there are no Africanized Honey Bees. These bees are ideal for Backyard Beekeeping in Los Angeles.


Medium Box Complete Hive Special!Medium Box Complete Hive Special - ($250): A complete hive is an established nucleus colony with a VSH Italian queen. It includes a used commercial grade hive top, bottom board, and medium (6-5/8”) hive body containing: 6 frame nucleus colony (4 frames brood in all stages, 2 frames with honey and pollen) and 4 additional undrawn plastic frames to fill out the box. These are gentle bees and the hive contains a marked 2017 Italian queen with known gentle genetics. These hives will need an additional box to expand into within a few weeks of taking them home. Order NOW! Available for pick up on weekdays immediately or the weekend of April 14th and 15th. Times: 8:30am-12pm and 1:00pm-3:30pm.   

Package Bees - 2018 ($175): 3 lbs Italian honey bees in a screened cage includes a VSH Italian mated, marked queen in a separate screened queen cage (with attendants). The known gentle genetics of these Italian Honey Bees make them ideal for Backyard Beekeeping in Los Angeles. Packages can be installed in any style hive. The VSH-Italian queen bee is produced and mated in Northern, CA where there are no Africanized genetics ensuring gentle behaving offspring. Order NOW! Available for pick up ONLY ON April 14th and 15th. Times: 8:30am-12pm and 1:00pm-3:30pm.    

Nucleus Colony - 2018 ($250): 5 frame nucs on deep frames  includes a VSH-Italian marked queen with known gentle genetics. These are Italian honey bees with known gentle genetics and are ideal for Backyard Beekeeping in Los Angeles. 5 frame Nucs on deep frames. Order NOW! Not available for pick up until mid-May. We will contact you in early May to schedule a pick up date and time.

Complete Hive - 2018 ($350) (Deep Box): 
 A complete hive is an established nucleus colony and includes a VSH-Italian marked queen, a painted deep hive body, bottom board fastened to the box and lid, plus 5 additional undrawn new frames to fill out the box. These are Italian honey bees with known gentle genetics and are ideal for Backyard Beekeeping in LA. Order NOW! Not available for pick up until mid-May. We will contact you in early May to schedule a pick up date and time.

VSH Italian Queen2018 VSH-QUEENS - 
($45) (MARKED)
 (VSH-Italian Sensitive Hygine), mated, with known gentle genetics. Queens come marked. Order NOW! Not available for pick up until mid-May. We will contact you in early May to schedule a pick up date and time.      
WE DO NOT SHIP OUR BEES!
Bill's Bees are available for purchase online.
However, you can not pick up your bees at farmers markets.
Please check availability and pick up dates/times for your bees.
Thank you for purchasing your honey bees from Bill's Bees.

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Commercial Beekeepers: The Unsung Heroes of the Nut Business

Bill's Bees hives

An employee of Bill’s Bees prepares hives for transportation to almond groves. Credit: T

(Every year about this time, Bill's Bees takes part in the greatest pollination event in the universe - almond pollination. In 2015, Tracy Samuelson featured Bill's Bees in her piece for Marketplace, (it's reposted below in its entirety). Enjoy!)

"Commercial Beekeepers - the Unsung Heroes of the Nut Business" 

"Bill Lewis is waiting for the sun to set, the time of day when his bees crawl back inside the short white boxes that house their colonies. As the sky turns pink behind the San Gabriel mountains, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Lewis climbs into the seat of a forklift and starts moving the hives onto the back of a flatbed truck. These bees are on the move.

Bill's Bees hives at sunset

The best time to transport bees is after dusk, when they return to their hives for the night. Credit: Tracey Samuelson/Marketplace

 Bill's Bees transports bees

Bill Lewis of Bill’s Bees loads several hundred hives onto trucks in Lake View Terrace, CA., in order to drive them a couple hours north to pollinate almond trees for a few weeks. Credit: Tracey Samuelson/Marketplace

"As soon as you get on the freeway and there’s air flowing past the entrances, all the bees run back inside,” says Lewis, of any stragglers.

Lewis, who runs Bill’s Bees, is taking about 700 of his hives on a road trip to the California’s Central Valley, where he’ll unload them across acres of almond orchards, working until 1 or 2 a.m. under the light of full moon.

All across the country, more than a million-and-a-half colonies are making a similar journey – traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to pollinate California’s almonds. Farmers rent hives for few weeks because in order for almond trees to produce nuts, bees need to move pollen from one tree to another. 

No bees, no almonds.

“This pollination season there will be [some] 800,000 acres of almonds that need to be pollinated,” says Eric Mussen, a honey bee specialist at the University of California Davis. He says more than 100 different kinds of crops need these rent-a-bees, but almonds are significant for the number of acres that require pollination all at the same time. About 85 percent of the commercial bees in United States – which Mussen calls “bees on wheels” – travel to California for almonds.

The state supplies roughly 80 percent of the world’s almonds, worth $6.4 billion during the 2013-2014 season, according to the Almond Board of California.

“It’s a matter of numbers,” he says. “You’re trying to provide enough bees to be moving the pollen around between the varieties and whatnot. It’s just a huge, huge number of bees. The only way we can get a huge number of bees in one place at one time is to bring them in on trucks.”

In fact, bees are such an important part of the almond business that Paramount Farms, one of the biggest almond growers in the world, has decided they need to be in the bee business, too. The company just bought one of the largest beekeepers in the United States, based in Florida.

“Bees are so essential for the process of growing almonds,” says Joe MacIlvane, Paramount’s president. “If we don’t have a reliable supply of good strong colonies, we simply won’t be a viable almond grower, so that’s our primary motivation for getting into the business.”

Renting bees is about 10 to 15 percent of Paramount’s production costs, but the motivation to keep their own bees isn’t simply economic.

“Many bee keepers are individual or family business and many people are getting on in years and we don’t see a lot of young people coming into the business,” says MacIlvane.

Additionally, bee populations are struggling. A significant number having been dying each year for the past decade or so, thanks to a mix of factors, from pesticides to lost habitat for feeding. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what’s killing them.

“We had a large problem last year with bees dying in the orchard because of something that was going on during bloom,” says Bill Lewis. He thinks a pesticide or fungicide may have been to blame.

This year, Lewis and his bee broker are being pickier about the farms they’re working with, vetting them more carefully because those lost bees had big economic consequences – about $300,000 in lost income for Lewis."

Featured in: Marketplace for Monday March 2, 2015 (Click here for Radio Interview

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Happy Birthday ~ Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History

February 12, 2014 · 

Happy Birthday ~ Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln - Born February 12, 1809 
via: Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
DID YOU KNOW?...Abraham Lincoln was "very fond of honey."

As a child in Indiana Abraham Lincoln was used to eating honey, and a biography quoted the following from a letter written shortly after his death: "Mr. Lincoln was very fond of honey. Whenever he went to Mr. Short's house he invariably asked his wife for some bread and honey. And he liked a great deal of bee bread in it. He never touched liquor of any kind." - 68. N. W. Branson to William H. Herndon. Petersburg Ill Aug 3. 1865

“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
― Abraham Lincoln

"It is an old and a true maxim, that a "drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason,..." -Abraham Lincoln, Temperance Address of February 22, 1842 -Springfield, Illinois

Image: Abraham Lincoln photographed holding his glasses and a newspaper on August 9, 1863

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Beekeeping - What You Need to Start Keeping Bees!


In March and April you’ll be picking up your bees (hope you’ve got your bee order in, they’re going fast!). Below are some things to consider and plan for before you pick up your bees.

Location, Location, Location:

  • A location in the open, preferably with a southern or easterly exposure, for maximum sunshine throughout the day.
  • Away from animals and children, not along a foot path, or where there is direct traffic. 
  • Protected by a barrier (approx. 2 feet from - and facing a hill or wall) from wind, streets, etc. This will also force the bees to fly up and over cars, people, etc., thus causing them to be less of a nuisance and helping them to stay alive.
  • Ease of access (you don’t want to be lifting heavy supers of honey up and down stairs or across rocky fields).

What the bees will need:

  • A safe, natural habitat with a source for nectar and pollen. A typical honey bee colony forages more than 80,000 square yards to find plants and flowers with sufficient nectar (honey) the bees' source for energy and pollen (essential in brood rearing) the bees' source of carbohydrates. 
  • A nearby source of fresh water (within ¼ mile) so they don’t use the neighbor’s swimming pool. This can be a tank or barrel of water with rocks or floating boards or cork for the bees to land on. 
  • A safe, comfortable, home to live in. 

We suggest you buy a couple of good beekeeping books and read them all the way through, twice. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Beekeeper’s Handbook 
  • Keeping Bees in Towns & Cities
  • How to Keep Bees & Sell Honey
  • Beekeeping for Dummies
Basic Essentials List for Beginning Beekeepers:


The Hive - Langstroth (from the bottom up):

Hive Stand - This is a platform to keep the hive off the ground. It improves circulation, reduces dampness in the hive, and helps keep ants, bugs, leaves, and debris from getting into the hive. It can be made of anything solid enough to support the weight of a full beehive. Wooden hive stands are available for sale but bricks, concrete blocks, pallets, and found lumber are just as good. It’s helpful to place the legs of the stand in cans filled with used motor oil to deter ants from climbing up the legs and into the hive. The stand should be strong enough to support one hive or a number of colonies. What is important to remember is that the hive needs to be at least 6 inches off the ground.

Bottom Board - Is placed on top of the hive stand and is the floor of the hive. Bees use it as a landing board and a place to take off from. 

Entrance Reducer - Is basically a stick of wood used to reduce the size of the entrance to the hive. It helps deter robbing.

Hive Boxes/Supers - Come in three sizes: deep, medium and shallow. Traditionally, 2 deep boxes have been used as brood chambers with 3 or 4 or more boxes (medium or shallow) on top as needed for honey storage. Many beekeepers use all medium boxes throughout the hive. This helps reduce the weight of each box for lifting. If you have back problems or are concerned about heavy lifting, you could even use shallow boxes all throughout the hive. So, 6 boxes as a minimum for deep and medium. More if you wanted to use only shallow boxes. You will only need two boxes to start out, adding boxes as needed for extra room and honey storage.

Frames and Foundation - For each box you have for your hive, you will need 10 frames that fit that box. Frames can be wooden with beeswax foundation or all plastic with a light coating of beeswax. The bees don't care and will use both equally well. Foundation is intended to give the bees a head start on their comb building and helps minimize cross comb building that makes it difficult to remove and inspect. You can buy all beeswax foundation or plastic foundation with a thin coat of beeswax applied to it. Alternatively, you can provide empty frames and let the bees build their comb from scratch but that can be a bit tricky and it takes the bees longer to get established. 

Top Cover: The top cover can be as simple as a flat sheet of plywood. We prefer the top covers made with laminated pieces to make a flat board and extra cross bracing to help hold the board flat for years. Plywood tends to warp over time. You can also use a telescoping cover, but they require an additional inner cover. 

Paint - All parts of your hive that are exposed to the weather should be painted with (2 coats) of a non-toxic paint. Do not paint the inside of the hive or the entrance reducer. Most hives are painted white to reflect the sun, but you can use any light colors. Painting your hives different colors may help reduce drift between the colonies. If your hive will not be in your own bee yard, you may want to paint your name and phone number on the side of the hive.

Tools & Supplies:

bee brushBee Brush - A beekeeper needs a brush to gently move the bees from an area of observation when looking for a queen and when harvesting frames of honey. Use a brush that has long, soft, flexible, yellow bristles. Don’t use a dark, stiff brush with animal hair, or a paint brush.

duct tapeDuct Tape - You’ll have lots of uses for duct tape, might want to keep it handy.                                                                                                                                                   

hive toolHive Tool - A hive tool is the most useful piece of beekeeping equipment. It can be used to pry up the inner cover, pry apart frames, scrape and clean hive parts, scrape wax and propolis out of the hive, nail the lid shut, pull nails, and scrape bee stingers off skin. The hive tool has two parts: the wedge or blade and the handle. Hive tools are often fitted with brightly-colored, plastic-coated handles which helps the beekeeper locate the hive tool while working. 

FeederFeeder - You may want to have a feeder with sugar syrup to give your new bees a boost in their new home. Its the helping hand they need to get started building comb.

SmokerSmoker - Examining a hive is much easier when you use a smoker. Use it to puff smoke into the entrance before opening the hive and to blow smoke over the frames once the hive is opened. This helps the beekeeper to manage the bees. Cool smoke helps to settle the bees. Smoking the bees initiates a feeding response causing preparation to possibly leave the hive due to a fire. The smoke also masks the alarm pheromone released by the colony’s guard bees when the hive is opened and manipulated. Smoke must be used carefully. Too much can drive bees from the hive. A smoker is basically a metal can with a bellows and a spout attached to it. We prefer to use a smoker with a wire cage around it. A large smoker is best as it keeps the smoke going longer. It can be difficult to keep a smoker lit (especially for new beekeepers). Practice lighting and maintaining the smoker. Burlap, rotted wood shavings, pine needles, eucalyptus, cardboard, and cotton rags are good smoker fuels.

Protective Clothing:

Bee suitBee Suit - For the best protection, full bee suits are recommended. But whether or not a suit is used, a beekeeper's clothing should be white or light in color (bees generally do not like dark colors and will attack dark objects). Avoid woolen and knit material. You will want to wear clothing both that will protect you and you don’t mind getting stained (bees produce waste that shows up as yellowish marks on your clothing). You’ll want to close off all potential to getting stung by wearing high top boots or tucking your pants into your socks and securing your cuffs with rubber bands or duct tape.

Bee Gloves - Long, leather, ventilated gloves with elastic on the sleeves help protect the hands and arms from stings.

 Hat and Veil - Even the most experienced beekeepers wear a hat and veil to protect their head, face, and eyes from bee stings. Wire veils keep bees farther away from the face than those made of cloth. Black veiling is generally easier to see through. Make sure the veil extends down below and away from your neck.

That’s it!

Once you have all you need, expenses can be kept to a minimum. With the right care, equipment, tools, and clothing will last a long time. If your hive becomes overcrowded, just add another box or two. Or, you may find you’ll want to split your hive – then you’ll have two! If honey is overflowing, just add another box or two. And, great! – You’ll have lots of yummy honey!!

A note on protective clothing: There was a time when we could safely visit our bees wearing little protective clothing. With the arrival of Africanized honey bees into the Southern states, we've come to realize the potential danger of an aggressive hive and have learned to exercise caution when approaching our bees. A once gentle hive could be invaded and taken over by a small aggressive swarm in a few days. These bees are unpredictable and vigorously defend their hives. Protective clothing such as a bee suit, veil and gloves will help keep stings to a minimum in the bee yard if worn correctly. As beekeepers, it is our responsibility to help curtail the danger to our bees, ourselves, and others.

Here’s a list of suppliers:

Los Angeles Honey Company 
Dadant & Sons 
Mann Lake Ltd. 
Walter T. Kelley Co.
The Valley Hive

We primarily work with the Langstroth hive but you can also use the Top Bar Hive or the Warre Hive. We'll be happy to share our experience with these two styles of hives, as well. 

For many years, Bill's Bees held the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 at our apiary in Little Tujunga Canyon. The class grew from under 20 newbees in 2010 to nearly 200 in 2016. Since we no longer have our location in Little Tujunga Canyon, the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 is being held at The Valley Hive. You can fine information about the classes on the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 website and LACBA Facebook page.

Reminder - Get your bees now. You don't want to be bee-less come bee season. Bill's Bees Sells Bees in Complete Hives - Medium Box Special, Deep Box, Packages, Nucs, and Italian Queens. Our bees have known gentle genetics and are great for commercial and backyard beekeeping. 

Happy bee-ing!

Thank you, 
Bill Lewis
Bill's Bees

http://billsbees.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BillsBeesHoney/
https://billsbees.com/collections/bees
http://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/ 
http://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/beekeeping-classes-losangeles/ 
https://www.facebook.com/losangelesbeekeeping

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