I met Michelle at the HU meeting in Petrolia. Michelle has traveled around the world climbing things and also rode her motorcycle to Guatemala. Check out her blog from her trip here. She invited me to ride with her a few days to visit her friends Dick and Kathy who live near Eureka, CA. It was a great experience because I was able to see how different people live in the US. I’m a product of the suburbs — impeccably clean neighborhoods with strict home owners associations, houses chose because of school districts, big box stores, and career oriented decisions usually resulting in living in suburbs of major American Cities. Dick and Kathy seemed to make a different set of decisions but seem to yield the same results but with a very different feel.
They live out in the country with the nearest city of Eureka, CA. They are now retired with what sounds like very happy and successful kids– the goal of all child producing families.
Upon touring their property, we got to check out Dick’s beekeeping operation. He mostly produces honey for his family and friends but also sells his excess. Dick is also the head of the Humbolt County Beekeepers Association. We spent quite a bit of time checking out the hives and I learned even more about my future hobby. I love bees!
Several of the hives he set up with purchased queens/bees and others were those that he caught from swarms that he collected locally. You can see in the picture there is an electric fence. The fence is only active at night because the bears will try to rob the honey.
Here is my attempt to annotate a beehive. Please correct me if I’m wrong and I’ll fix the graphic. But take a look at the picture and you should be able to get a good idea of the anatomy of a hive. You can also check out this page which does a good job describing the anatomy.
Check out the bees entering and leaving the hive. The most interesting are the worker bees who function as entrance guards. They sit on the landing area in front of the hole into the hive and inspect incoming bees to make sure that they are from the correct hive. If they aren’t they will be rejected or attacked by soldier bees.
Here’s another closer up shot.
Dick pulled off the top cover so he could inspect individual frames to check out the hive’s health.
Here is Dick showing us a frame where comb is being produced. Some of the cells in the comb are used to birth new bees while others are used to store honey. The boxes below the queen excluder (first couple of boxes usually) are for birthing, while the upper boxes are for honey.
He picked through a couple of frames and found the queen. I was super excited to see a queen working!
So many bees!
Dick was trying to delay the making of new queens in one of the hives so we found a cell that was producing a new queen and we squashed her. Beekeepers yield such great power.
It was a great unexpected trip and was fun meeting Dick and Kathy and traveling a few days with Michelle.