As befitting a farm started by two city slickers, we’ve got another possible town/country rivalry set to start. This one is about bees. Remember back in late March I told you Hector Alvarez of Hector’s Bees had decided our lavender fields were a good place to place some of his hives.

One book on Sonoma calls Hector “a gentle man who smells of honey.” That’s about right.

Hector’s a bit of a local legend around here. He arrived in Sonoma as a young man with little English but a great interest in bees. He was taken under the wing of the local beekeeper’s society — and even with the language barrier — became one of the county’s most successful producers of organic bee products. Hector’s Bees is now a family business and you can find his candles, honey and other bee products in most of the better farmer’s markets around here. So when Hector decided to put some of his hives at Two Terrier Vineyards, it was quite an honor. His “rent” will be paid in honey. (We’re coming out the richer on this deal.)

Fast forward several months and it’s finally time for the bees to arrive. Apparently you move bees when their cycle and health dictate, not on your schedule. Or you do if you are Hector. Apparently, the act of trucking bees hither and yon to pollinate crops is one of the suspected causes of Colony Collapse Disorder which is decimating world honeybee populations. So Hector moves his bees when he thinks it will be least disruptive to them. And that includes moving the bees in the dead of night when they are asleep. So Monday, I went to bed honeybeeless. Tuesday I woke up to find I had Honeybee Manhattan down by the lavender fields.

You may say this looks ramshackle, but this would be the Upper East Side as far as bees are concerned.

This is the view across the street from Bee Manhattan — our organic lavender fields.

Let’s hope our new honeybee tenants are listening to Michelle Obama and eating organic. If they go in the other direction, they’ll come to our neighbor’s heavily sprayed, non-native plantings. But I’m assuming, since these are Sonoma honeybees, they’re all about the organic, local produce.

Now you noted that earlier I said we were “honeybeeless”. That’s because we haven’t been “beeless”. There is a thriving colony of native bees — several kinds in fact — roaming their turf at Two Terrier Vineyards. They don’t make honey, but I’m told they are even more efficient at pollinating native plants than the European Honeybee. But they’re rougher and they’re definitely from the wrong side of the tracks.

Here’s the largest hive of native bees. Sorry about the focus, I wasn’t going to do more than run down, snap a picture and run back.

Yes, I’m not sure how territorial my native bees are about their turf. I’m hoping we don’t have rumbles like the Greasers and the Socs in The Outsiders. Hey, stay gold, Honeyboy!

Now did you get that the Natives versus the Honeys is only the latest town/country rivalry? Yup, remember Cousin John’s juvenile delinquent dropout yeasts versus our college educated UC Davis yeasts? We called it The Great Fermentation Face-off. When John helped us with last fall’s crush, we gave him a pile of our Cabernet grapes. The experiment was to see if education matters when it comes to yeasts. Well, John and I just had a head to head tasting. The verdict, aside from the oak tones from our Cab that has been sitting in barrels: remarkably similar and very good. Of course, the real test will be how they age. That’s where I’m predicting our egghead yeasts will allow our Cab to surge ahead while John’s Cab works menial jobs and probably ends up in prison. Or his Cab could end up as a multimillionaire rapper. It could happen.

Cousin John gives the sign for his Gangsta Yeast. Yo! Respect.

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