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.
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.
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.
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.
Great story. What a gorgeous lavender field you have. You’re not saying, though, that your lavender is native (neighbor – non native, sprayed), are you? It was bit ambiguous.
Nope, the lavender is as unnative as it gets. It’s the French kind which is best for oil. But it’s not invasive, so it gets a pass on our Natives Only Policy. So too with the olives and I guess the Rhone style grapes, although they are grafted onto native root stock.
But back to the lavender. At least it’s unsprayed and it is appropriate for the semi-arid climate — as in not needing watering. Unlike, say, a Kentucky Bluegrass lawn.
Marvelous! We don’t have hives but we have bees interested in our lavender, too. We don’t have as many plants as you appear to, but between the lavender, the rosemary, the roses and geraniums we keep the bees and the hummingbirds pretty happy.
It’s nice to think, though, that you’re actually going to be able to harvest your honey! Lucky you!
I should talk to you about my grape! We have one that was supposed to be simply ornamental, but it is actually bearing.
My understanding is that proper grape reproduction requires two vines. Each vine can be male and female, but each usually doesn’t pollinate itself. But what are called “commercial grapes” — which I’m taking to mean table grapes — have been developed to be hermaphraditic. In other words, they can now pollinate themselves. I don’t believe that sort of genetic modification is done to fine wine grapes as winemakers don’t like to mess with the integrity of the vines. But perhaps wine grapes for the big Southern California jug wines — which are grown for yield, not for quality — have resulted in the development of hermaphraditic grapes. And when you think about it, they would need something like that as they spray so heavily, few birds and bees would hang around to cross-pollinate them. So either you have a “genetically engineered” vine. Or there is another grape vine or a very industrious bee somewhere.
What a view! What a future garden! Wish we could come and play. The humans could learn about wine, gardening and soccer while the standard poodles played with the terriers.