Getting back in, in Northern California.
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  1. #1

    Default Getting back in, in Northern California.

    I grew up in the bee business in Northern California. My dad had 1,200 hives and my uncle had over 1,000. I ran 800 of my own hives in the 1970's & 1980's. The closing of the canadian border because of mites (no longer closed) all but shut down my queen business and low prices on everything else lead me to leave the business. Now that I'm retirement age and prices seem to be WAY up I'm getting back in, but on a small scale.

    When I was 18-19 years old I made all my own custom woodworking equipment for making beehives. Lock corner (finger joint) machine, double end saws, multi hole drills and more. I now own timber land and have a small mill so I figure I would get back to making hives to supplement my retirement.

    Looking around I see that other hive manufactures are all touting "full top joints", "blind Rabbets", "Full top corners" frame rests as the latest innovation for a stronger box. I was making mine that way in 1973. I would be interested to know if I was the first to build boxes that way?



    Old lock corner machine.


    Milled lumber waiting to be finished.


    A box I made in 1973.


    No longer my address.
    I grew up in the bee business and ran 800 hives in the 1970's-80's. Now I'm getting back in, but on a small scale.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,272

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Welcome to Beesource Randy. I hope you enjoy getting back in and are familiar with the challanges beekeepers nowadays are facing. A little more work than "before", but still a lot of fun.

    Nice box.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,295

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Welcome! Read up on mites and EFB. I have a friend who was a beek back in the day and he is shocked at what you have to do these days. He said he didn't do anything except harvest honey. Best of luck and yes, you made some good looking boxes ahead of their time. Not sure when it became the standard. J

  5. #4

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fivej View Post
    Welcome! Read up on mites and EFB. I have a friend who was a beek back in the day and he is shocked at what you have to do these days. He said he didn't do anything except harvest honey. Best of luck and yes, you made some good looking boxes ahead of their time. Not sure when it became the standard. J
    I have been studying up on mites. We were very familiar with EFB & AFB back then (dad's best friend and a fellow beekeeper was the county bee inspector so we saw everything).
    Honey was just a small part of our business with a 40 pound average.

    We started the year on the almonds holding back our 100 best colonies for cell builders. We put in our first queen grafts Feb 15th and started making queen nucs. Uncle Ben strictly raised queens so his colonies were the first to be broken into nucs. Being close to the almonds we made up some nucs while still there. We also did some pear and prune pollination, and shook package bees.

    I had the "young eyes" and did all the grafting. We grafted 600 cells a day through April and then cut back as orders fell off.

    After queen & package season we headed to Nevada where we pollinated alfalfa seed. What honey we made was on the alfalfa. We tried to pull most of the alfalfa honey and then moved the bees to areas where they could fill up on Rabbitbrush honey to get them through the winter. Another good late honey crop around here was starthistle.

    Prices when I started were; Queens $5.00 each, Bees $5.00 per pound, Almonds $20.00, Pears and prunes $4.00, Alfalfa $20.00.
    25 years later prices had not changed and when mites came in they closed the Canadian border where we sold most of our queens and packages and I called it quits.

    I see prices have come up a little since then .

    I have timber land and all the woodworking equipment I need so I thought I would get back in slowly. I plan to trade woodwear for nucs or packages. Back when I was going full tilt there were a lot of beekeepers that were happy to trade.

    Growing up my brothers and I did all the nailing, wiring, and embedding. I saw weaknesses in the boxes and built my own equipment when I was 18-19 years old. I used mill ends back then but when cogeneration electric plants went in mill ends were worth more as fuel and the supply dried up.

    With the recent fires here in California PG&E has started clearing 50 feet under all their lines and they just leave the trees to rot on the ground. I saw an opening to get beck in and utilize that wood.
    I grew up in the bee business and ran 800 hives in the 1970's-80's. Now I'm getting back in, but on a small scale.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,590

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Welcome! Ya as. My ole mentor bk’n bud is fond of saying “the days of throwing bees in a box in April and coming back and harvesting honey in August are long over”.
    Rod

  7. #6

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    New boxes coming off the line. Still adjusting the machines and yet to get the handle jig going.





    I grew up in the bee business and ran 800 hives in the 1970's-80's. Now I'm getting back in, but on a small scale.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,272

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Let us all know when your boxes will become available and at what price.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,295

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    That's quite a career in beekeeping. Great looking boxes. Is that lumber from PG&E? If most of it is that clear, you scored! White pine? J

  10. #9

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fivej View Post
    That's quite a career in beekeeping. Great looking boxes. Is that lumber from PG&E? If most of it is that clear, you scored! White pine? J
    Ponderosa Pine.
    I'm milling it myself and cutting out the bad knots. There is so much on the ground I'm cherry picking the bottom two logs from the cleanest trees.

    PG&E cut it but I needed to get my neighbours permission to mill it. They do have over 50 trees marked for cutting on my property but they haven't got to them yet.
    I grew up in the bee business and ran 800 hives in the 1970's-80's. Now I'm getting back in, but on a small scale.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,295

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Nice. When they come to cut the trees, show them how you want it bucked up and where to stack it. J

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,545

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Spadeapiaries:

    Welcome to Beesource. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your family's work in commercial beekeeping.

    While there is no doubt much that has changed since you were in it heavily before, I imagine there is much that has not and your experience will be invaluable around here.

    I also admire the quality of your woodenware and ingenuity in re-purposing the linework waste.

    Best of success with your 'retirement job' and I look forward to reading more about your progress.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Lamar Co. Alabama, USA
    Posts
    4,137

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    Welcome to Bee Source. Enjoyed the history and photos.
    "Sometimes the best action, with bees, is no action at all."

  14. #13

    Default Re: Getting back in, in Northern California.

    This picture was in my high school newspaper and yearbook. 1975

    I grew up in the bee business and ran 800 hives in the 1970's-80's. Now I'm getting back in, but on a small scale.

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