Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fabulous and Awesome Bee Keeping Class!!!

We have been giving farming and "life" skill classes here at Windmill Farm for about 4 years now, lots of canning and preserving classes.  But this Bee Keeping class is by far, my all time favorite.  Maybe because most of the classes I teach myself, or have done it at some time in my life.  If I don't feel I am expert enough, I bring in those wonderful people that are expert in that skill or field.  The bee keeping class was one that I knew nothing about it and found the most perfect person to teach it.
The weather was perfect on Saturday, cool breeze, only low 80s, very comfortable for people to sit under the shade of the big redwood tree out front of the house.
The instructor was Perfecto Valadez and his wife, from Orchard & Field Pollination Bee Keeping business here in Gridley.  Our friend Danny Maciel also came to help them out with all the equipment they brought.
First of all, they brought both of their big trucks that they use to haul their bee hives.  One was used to haul individual hives on pallets; the other truck had a boom where he loaded up individual hives.
All the clothing, smoker, gloves, hats and tools were displayed out on the bed of the truck.  And Mr. Valadez showed how each item worked and the reasons why they were used.  He did confess to us that after almost 30 years in the business, he rarely uses the clothing-brave man.
He brought a live, working hive with a queen bee that had a glass cover over it.  We could see bees working and a miraculous thing happening, baby bees being born!!  There were several children that attended the class and they were glued to the glass case watching the ever busy bees.
Mr. & Mrs. Valadez talked about how they got into the business; how the bee keeping business works; the lives of bees; what happens when bees get hungry, when they have extra queens; when pesticides are used; and answered any question people asked.  I could not believe how much I learned and it was completely captivating for the whole 2+ hours.
Many people stayed after the class to speak directly with Mr. Valadez.  Several people who attended had orchards and wanted to ask further questions about the possibility of having him bring hives onto their property to help with pollination.
I had picked up some helpful information packets from our local Farm Services and USDA office about pollinators; I also made copies of a very good article I had found about the many healing properties of using honey.
Speaking of honey; we were provided 3 types of honey, alfalfa; orange and a weed.  I had several types of crackers that the people were able to drizzle the various types of honey to taste.  It was amazing how totally different they tasted.
Mr. Valadez states this time of year, he takes his hives to the Petaluma area as that is where he obtains the clover honey.  
Interesting facts, Mr. Valadez states that one bee makes 400 trips to the hive to make one teaspoon of honey.  And that bees travel on average 3-4 miles from the hive to find honey.  And bees put honey on their back and carry it back to the hive.  He said it can get over 140 degrees inside a hive with bees working, so some worker bees use the water on their backs and fan their wings at the entrance to the hives.  It creates a cooling-air conditioning effect if the hive gets too hot.
Wonderful class, if you didn't make it, I am sorry.  Bee Keepers are so busy, it was a real treat for us to have him available for over 4 hours here at our farm to spend with people.  I think Frank and I have been "stung" with the bee bug-Frank has arranged to go over to Mr. Valadez's place to help him make hives and purchase a couple from him.  Get some bees from him and a queen to start up our own farm hives.
Life changing experience and I was so happy my daughter and grand daughter drove from Auburn to attend the class and enjoy it with us.

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