Rob Keller's Napa Valley Bee Company is a sustainable honeybee organization that recognizes the importance of strong genetics in our local indigenous bee. Breeding from survivor stock in our area is a way to solve some of the problems with European Honey Bees.
For the past few weeks I have been working with Ed Clay Studios and we’re making two of the most amazing beehives EVER, out of teak. A client of mine asked me to price out hives in teak, so one day at lunch sitting on the epi benches at Oxbow Market with my hardwood friend Lewis deSoto I got the 4-1-1 on the best wood guy around – Ed Clay. If you need anything made of wood you should call this guy, my experience was fabulous. http://www.edclay.com/ The hives are based on the Langstroth design but with much nicer screened bottoms and ventilated tops. Seriously, I have not been this affected by objects made in wood since seeing the show of furniture found in King Tut’s Tomb at the Metropolitan Museum of Art back in the mid-nineties. Albeit, at the time I was a complete Egypto-freak but still...if nothing else these hives have an attention to detail fit for a Pharaoh. As far as wood goes, teak is Greek to me, but I have been told the tight grain and texture will prevent aging and resist moisture. Teak is generally used in manufacturing outdoor furniture so we figured the wood could, and should, be used for beehives. For the price, teak had better resist moisture! I’m telling ya’ -measure twice cut once. And you’ll only want to cut once because even though it’s easily worked teak can cause severe blunting on edge tools because of the presence of silica in the wood. This can’t be good, which is why I guess manufactured teak fetches the big cheddar I’m sure. Well, jacking up all your tools working with teak is one thing AND jacking-up the planet harvesting it is another. It should be expensive. Some people shriek at using teak because of its un-sustainability, but according to Ed - the wood guy, the teak for this project was reclaimed from an old factory in Indonesia. Attention to detail is paramount the new teak hives will be located amongst some of the finest outdoor sculpture in the world. Think Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Barry Flanagan.... super tight! I’m sure you’ve heard of the White House hives? Yeah so.... they’ve got nothing on these beauties. Popular in the 1950s and 1960s in a style often referred to as Danish modern, teak has had a boom in popularity, Not so much in the way of beehives but you know that’s how we roll in the wine country. Always trying to set the next trend. Stay tuned for more imagery of the hives as they age over time.
My therapist says when I cross my arms I'm not being open to new ideas. I don't think that's Ed's case cause I'm pretty sure he'd never made teak beehives before I called.
Heading out with the sleek teak
Rolling home with the funk
Howard Carter and Lord Carnovan Entering King Tut's Tomb, 1922
How exciting, it's been raining big in Napa all day. The funny thing is when you see the people that just don't get it. You know the ones, all grumpy 'cause they're getting wet running to their cars at Starbucks. All my homesteading homeboys like Michael at Connolly Ranch are busting. We are beside ourselves with hopes of a wet winter and what that will inevitably bring to us and our bees in the long run. I'm sure the rain put out our covercrop cowboy, Mark Griffen, up there at the Reserve, they're hustling to wrap up harvest I'm sure. Give it a week when the soil is prime and he's planting that Reserve cover blend JR mixed up for him at Napa Ag Supply. We'll have to have him drop in here at the ol' bee blog and lay out the stats on that for us, but until then you all better get your cover on and sow some seed for the bees. Because I saw what Mark has done in the past with cover crop -- he dropped the buckwheat bomb --I'm going to follow his lead and use his blend this year. I'll assess how it goes, and perhaps make some mods to his mix next year. We are a little more fortunate in that in our apiaries we don't have all the restrictions Mark has in terms of how the cover might affect the vines. It's crazy all the "you can't do this - you can't do that" hurdles one has to jump through when it comes to the vineyard. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with the vine, it's just all the red tape that comes with the grape if you know what I mean....
Bottom line is we're going to have a busting cover crop year if this rain keeps up. Besides Mark's blend I'm going big Phacelia tanacetifolia. Michael and I are going to unleash a fury of Phacelia that will make the bees flip. I'm telling you.... Apparently the seed is hard to come by.
If you haven't heard about Phacelia you need to read the attached PDF. It's an amazing plant and the bees love it. It's on both Michael and Melissa Garden's top five. M&M....
This is how it went for a wet beekeepr in Napa earlier today:
It was dumping at around noon today (driving up valley on Hwy 29).
At the College Ave apiary I put cinders on top of ply to help keep some of the rain off the landing and out of the hive. Tilt your hives forward and weigh-down your lids. Check out the landscape, the rain will hopefully bump the forage for these bees. Well, it's probabley late for this year, but next sping will be roaring.
Brown - Dry - Zero - Zip
These are nice covers but I still put a piece of ply over the front to help with excessive water build-up on the landing. The bees looked cold, so even though they're calling it a tropical storm I also put in the monitoring trays to help them conserve some heat.
I hope the ply dosen't blow off.
Extra entrance reducer and... I know - I know.... you're meant to feed the bees inside the hive.