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dead bees on snow

When dead bees are a welcome sight!

Dead bees a welcome sight?

Yeah, you heard me right.  Now let me explain…

dead bees on frameUsually seeing dead bees is a terrible thing to behold for a beekeeper.  A good deal of sadness whelms up when opening up a box and finding the colony dead or having absconded.  It’s like losing a friend…or 30,000 of them.  But yesterday it brought me a glimmer of hope and resulted in a very positive confirmation. Why in the world would that be?

It’s winter up here in Flagstaff. And that means snow. And more snow. And then it snows again.  Welcome to life in the mountains my friends. This potentially creates a problem for both bees and beekeeper alike.  When winter sets in there’s a very real chance that some hives may not make it through the long cold.  Bees have been given a great deal of intelligence and can often survive in most cold environments for a period of time.  But extreme cold or extreme length of winter can spell doom for our little friends.

Bees do have a coping mechanism however.  Much like antarctic penguins, the bees will ball up in cold times, and will rotate from outside to inside in a slow spiral dance, while vibrating their bodies to produce heat and keep the bee-ball warm.  Of course right in the middle of this dance is the main lady of the royal ball…the queen.  They rotate around her, ensuring she is kept warm, while other bees take turns pulling food stores from the comb to bring back to feed her and other bees.  They can keep this up as long as they have the energy received from food supplies in the hive, or as long as it doesn’t get too cold to keep things warm.  That was my fear recently.

You see, we recently had some VERY cold temperatures.  When I was out in Parks last week I recorded -24F degrees.  That was the coldest I’ve ever seen in my life!  And that is a potential danger for losing a hive.  Even for local native bees here in Flagstaff.  But what a difference a week can make!  Just one week later we went from near record cold to near record high temps for this time of year.  Nearly 60 degrees and sunny yesterday all around the region!

dead bees on snowAfter spending the day at the Grand Canyon I decided to check in on our Parks pollination colony on the way back to see how things were.  Since it was so warm I knew a quick curious peek wouldn’t harm them and chill the hive.  As I tromped through the snow and approached the hive I noticed it…DEAD BEES ON THE SNOW!  Now most would be saddened by this, but I was glad.  Why?  Because dead bees can’t fly themselves out of a hive and onto the ground.  What the dead bees outside the hive meant was that the colony was probably pretty strong and had been “cleaning house”.  Yes, throughout the winter bees will die in the hive, and they will drop to the bottom of the box awaiting the undertaker.  When the weather warms up other worker bees go about cleaning up the place.  They will carry dead bees out of the hive and drop them on the ground.  They will also use the time to fly out of the hive and use the bathroom outside.  They’re pretty clean that way.

As I walked up to the hive I saw a lone bee flying back and forth to the entrance and back out again and I knew there was hope.  So I popped open the top lid, and what did I see?  Bees packing the entire box and all the way up to the top frames of a double deep stack of boxes.  Not a few bees.  Not sick, lethargic bees.  But LOTS of bees, moving all around the frames just how I left them in the Fall!  I must say I was surprised to say the least.  Having not checked in on them since October and having multiple nights of subzero temperatures I was sure they had frozen to death or had eaten all their honey stores in futility while trying to generate heat to stay warm.  But there they were, a golden moving carpet on every frame, as healthy as a bee can be.

Nate setting up the Community Garden hive in Parks

Nate setting up the Community Garden hive in Parks

So, to you who are new beekeepers. Don’t fear should you see a few dead bees outside the hive during winter, especially after the reprieve of a warm sunny day.  Should you see a pile of dead bees rest assured that the undertaker is well at work, the workers peppering the ground have now crossed the river Styx, and your bees are probably alive and buzzing about on the inside just awaiting the new spring blooms and sweet nectar once again!

-Nate

Pollination Services- Putting our bees to work for YOU!

Royal Kenyon BeeWorks bee pollination service in Flagstaff.Bees provide the world with a HUGE service!

By pollinating fruits, vegetables, and trees around the globe, they literally ensure the survival of mankind.  Certain flowers require bee pollination in order for them to fruit and then go to seed.  Around the country, farmers and growers rely on bee pollination for their crop yields.  Studies have shown that the proper pollination of crops by bees can produce 6 times the yield than without.  The entire almond industry in the United States depends on beekeepers bringing hives of bees into the orchard to pollinate the almond trees.  Without them, the supply would fail.  Large orchards and farms sometimes pay $150 per hive per week in order to bring these little pollinators in from around the country.

Royal Kenyon BeeWorks bee pollination service in Flagstaff.We are able to provide you with local pollination services in the Flagstaff area for a fraction of that cost.  Already we have partnered with individuals and community gardens in the area to help them save precious time with our bees, instead of trying to hand-pollinate the produce in their gardens and fields.  This service is especially beneficial for local organic farms and those growing fruits and vegetables for sale in places like farmer’s markets and family farms.  Our prices start as low as $10 per week for a hive in your garden or field and can remain there from May-September if you wish.

Royal Kenyon BeeWorks bee pollination service in Flagstaff.

Nate setting up a hive in the Parks Community Garden

 

If you run a community garden or are interested in hosting a hive at your school we will even provide you with a seasonal hive for FREE!

Contact us today to find out more about our pollination services and start putting our bees to work for you!

Flower Power!

flagstaff-mountain-flowers
If you haven’t gotten out and about into the local Flagstaff countryside, what are you waiting for? The wildflowers here in Northern Arizona are in full bloom everywhere you go. And you know what that means? LOTS of bee activity! We have been getting lots of requests for bee swarm removal, which means our bee buddies are growing and splitting and creating new colonies. Good for the local flowering plants, fruits, and vegetables!

I recently went out to a local community garden in Parks where we have one of our hives nearby. They requested one for pollinating their garden. Without adequate bee pollination, they have been hand-pollinating with q-tips! We freely placed a rescued hive out there and the ladies are doing great! So great in fact that I had to add a third deep hive box on top of the two brood boxes, dedicated to filling with honey and beeswax. That means we will soon have local honey collected from the Parks area to sell there at the community garden on Saturday! If you’re out in that area stop by and see all they grow there, and pick up some locally-made organic wildflower honey! Many people swear by it for helping their seasonal allergies.

If you have a bee swarm here in Flagstaff, Parks, or anywhere within the area let us know and we’ll come rescue them and put them to good use!

Flagstaff Free Bee Removal Service


Flagstaff free bee removal service is here!

swarmWe’re here to help anyone in the Flagstaff and Northern Arizona area with our free bee swarm removal service from now until the end of 2015 in order to help save our pollinators and provide a better alternative to simply killing them all.  Pollinators are in great need in our area and we need to help protect and preserve this valuable resource and the services they provide us all!

Whether it’s a bee swarm or established hive we can come out and do our best to remove, rescue and relocate the bees to on of our hives or a host-a-hive location. We have a growing list of those who would love to provide a home to a colony of bees who live on their property.  If you’re interested in our host-a-hive program or donating to help support this cause, please contact us today and let us know!

If you are in need of our Flagstaff Bee Removal Service please click here or give us a call anytime!

Peaks with Flower field 2a

Pollination and Bees

It has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. Most crops grown for their fruits (including vegetables such as squash, cucumber, tomato and eggplant), nuts, seeds, fiber (such as cotton), and hay (alfalfa grown to feed livestock), require pollination by insects.
Pollinating insects also play a critical role in maintaining natural plant communities and ensuring production of seeds in most flowering plants. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of a flower of the same species, which results in fertilization of plant ovaries and the production of seeds. The main insect pollinators, by far, are bees, and while European honey bees are the best known and widely managed pollinators, there are also hundreds of other species of bees, mostly solitary ground nesting species, that contribute some level of pollination services to crops and are very important in natural plant communities.

Why are bees good pollinators?

Bees make excellent pollinators because most of their life is spent collecting pollen, a source of protein that they feed to their developing offspring. When a bee lands on a flower, the hairs all over the bees’ body attract pollen grains through electrostatic forces. Stiff hairs on their legs enable them to groom the pollen into specialized brushes or pockets on their legs or body, and then carry it back to their nest. Individual bees tend to focus on one kind of flower at a time, which means it is more likely that pollen from one flower will be transferred to another flower of the same species by a particular bee. Many plants require this kind of pollen distribution, known as cross-pollination, in order to produce viable seeds. The business of collecting pollen requires a lot of energy, and so many flowers attract and also reward bees with nectar, a mixture of water and sugars produced by plants.

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Where and how do bees live?

Most bee species dig nests in soil, while others utilize plants, either by boring holes in pithy plant stems or wood, or by nesting in galleries made by wood-boring beetles in trees or other preexisting cavities. Bumble bees are known to nest in abandoned rodent burrows and feral honey bees are known to nest in tree hollows. Bees use a variety of materials to build their nests. Most bees line their nest cells with a waxy material they produce themselves, but others use pieces of leaves, small pebbles mixed with resin from tree sap, or mud to form the cells in which they lay their egg.

Why do bees need flowers throughout the growing season?

Many bee species are solitary (each female produces offspring in her own nest) with only one generation of bees produced per year. However, other species nest communally (several females share a nest) or have elaborate social structures with division of labor within the colony (usually with a single queen and many workers). These kinds of bees produce multiple generations per year. This means that bees that produce multiple generations each year need food resources (pollen and nectar) across most of the growing season to produce strong colonies. Providing plants in a landscape with overlapping bloom periods will help these bees survive and prosper.

We will be closed December 20th-26th for the holiday season. Merry Christmas! Dismiss