Spring is coming! Time to think about buying bees

Spring will be here before you know it. For all of you who would like to expand your hives or replenish hives lost over the winter, we are offering packages of bees and full hives for sale. For ordering instructions please fill out the form below and return as instructed. Please note: orders will not be reserved until payment is made.

2017 Bee package order form

For new beekeepers, we also offer in-person training to get you up and running, and can help you later in the season to diagnose issues, treat for mites, and when you’re ready, harvest honey.

It’s that almond time of year

If you drive through California’s central valley in the next month, you will see and smell the incredible expanses of almond blooms. Carson & Bees is pollinating orchards in Williams, which helps the business and also helps the hives bulk up for the coming spring and summer honey-making season.

Here’s a funny and  timely article about the different pronunciations of California’s favorite nut: http://kvpr.org/post/i-say-almond-you-say-am-end-whos-right

2017 almonds
Carson, just after unloading hives into the not-yet-blooming almond orchards

Carson & Bees receives Good Farm Fund grant

We are honored to announce that we are the proud recipients of a 2017 Good Farm Fund grant! We applied for and received funds to help us expand our business this year by buying new frames – this will enable us fill the empty boxes we own with bees to create new hives.

The Good Farm Fund, a project of North Coast Opportunities, is doing incredible work in the Lake and Mendocino County communities. They also throw excellent fundraiser dinners twice a year – once near Christmas and again in June – which are well worth attending.

You can learn more about the GFF here: http://www.goodfarmfund.org/

2017 bee frames
That’s a lot of bee frames! We bought them during a 40% off sale, which increased the grant’s impact on our business even more.

Honey adulteration

We get a lot of questions about the quality of honey sold in grocery stores, and also people wondering why we charge so much more than what you can buy in a store. Here’s an interesting article on honey adulteration to answer some of those common questions:

https://steptohealth.com/honey-pure-adulterated/

It’s also worth noting that California honey tends to be more expensive than other regions of the country since we get so little rain in late spring and summer. Rain = flower nectar = honey production.

Carson & Bees adds two new members to the family

Hello! Since last we wrote, Carson and Elizabeth got married (September 18, so lovely) and bought a house in Ukiah (woo!) which we’re remodeling. Most notably for the business, we recently expanded Carson & Bees with Beasty and Turbo.

Carson purchased Beasty at auction in April, an F-550 diesel truck that he converted to a flatbed this summer. He is one handy man.

If Beasty is the curmudgeonly uncle of the team, Turbo is the snappy new fella. He is a Hummerbee “Turbo Standard” forklift, also diesel, a specialty piece of machinery specifically designed for driving pallets of bees through almond and fruit orchards. Together they’re quite a pair, and perfectly compliment their skilled leader!

We’ve been at the Ukiah Farmers Market almost every week, so come say hello any Saturday from 9-12 if you’re in the area. It’s actually a pretty impressive winter market – even in January and February we’re getting all of our produce there, plus cheese, meat, prepared food, cool crafts, and consistently good live music!

Carson and Bees takes the CalFresh Challenge

When I’m not helping Carson run the “family business,” I work as the Community Outreach Coordinator at North Coast Opportunities in Ukiah. This week Carson and I are tackling the CalFresh Challenge, in which participants must eat for only $5 per person, per day, for five days. Follow along with us via a daily journal about the experience, which you can find here: Calfresh Challenge Journal.

Thanks for the support!

~Elizabeth

market bounty
What $30 at the farmers market gets you.

General Mills and the “Bee Friendlier” campaign

Cascadian Farms is the organic branch of General Mills, which represents 3% of the company’s total sales. Although as a major food producer General Mills uses a lot of pesticide – which has been directly linked to declining pollinator populations – a new campaign started by the Cascadian Farm branch called “Bee Friendlier” is an encouraging step in the right direction.

Although the #1 thing you can do to help pollinators is plant flowers, they have to be organic! These days most everything is treated – often at the seed level – with pesticide. The pollen the bees gather is poisoned by the pesticide the plant’s seed was rolled in (or sprayed in the large warehouse nursery where it was born). The only surefire way to help and not further hinder pollinators is to plant seeds whose packaging clearly states that zero treatment has been applied.

It’s easy to demonize companies like General Mills for being huge food conglomerates that use pesticides, pay low wages, and destroy the land. But GM and companies like it are products of society, and they directly reflect consumer’s demands: Americans want abundant and cheap food, so the current food system is built accordingly. Now, however, we’re taking a collective pause to reexamine the implications of valuing cost over everything else, and there’s a slow but steady sea change happening.

This “bee friendlier” campaign is a part of that sea change. And so are we! Each of us decides what the system looks like based on where we spend our money. In Ukiah we’re blessed with a year-round farmers’ market, a socially conscious co-op, and a Friedman’s that carries organic seeds. If you could spend 10% of your food budget on local producers, plus a few dollars a year to plant organic flower seeds, you’ll make a bigger impact than you realize on the food system AND the health of your friendly backyard pollinators.

Farewell, Farmers Market

Today was the last day of the Redwood Valley Farmers Market. It was an excellent season that saw the market grow in spades (thanks in large part to our enthusiastic market manager Steph) and helped us connect with the community. We made great friends with other food producers (I’m looking at you, Black Dog Farm!) and found a new customer base that is just as enthusiastic about local, raw honey as we are (special shout out to Ronnie, who bought something from us every single week).

We’re already looking forward to next year’s market, which will start in June. Until then you can still get Carson and Bees honey from us directly, or at a few local spots (including Pizza Etc in Redwood Valley and Westside Renaissance Market in Ukiah).

Thanks for a fun summer, Redwood Valley!

first RV market

Tell Syngenta to simmer down

Dear fellow bee lovers,

It’s no secret that bees are in trouble. All around the world, people are mobilizing to try to do something about it: hundreds of studies and thousands of people are focusing on how to help alleviate the stresses that are causing native and commercial bees alike to die off in alarming numbers. Europe has taken an important step in banning neonicotinoid pesticides, but here in the U.S. we aren’t doing as well. To wit:

Pesticide giant Syngenta just asked the EPA to raise the “acceptable” level for neonic residues by 40,000%. Say what??

Syngenta is  arguing that they need the increase so they can spray it rather than coat the seed in it, which might actually be good for bees – seed treatments affect the entire plant, whereas sprays “should” stick to the leaf. The big caveat here is that, for this to actually work for bees, it couldn’t be administered when the crop was flowering, nor while any other plant was flowering nearby. I personally have zero confidence in that scenario playing out – what does a Big Ag farmer care about some weeds flowering in his ditches? (Not to mention these crops are often sprayed while flowering anyway, despite very clear labels prohibiting it.)

So, what can we do? Three things.

1) Submit a public comment to the EPA. Go here: http://www.regulations.gov, and in the search field enter the docket number EPA–HQ–OPP–2014–0008. Several seemingly identical search results are returned; click “comment now” on the uppermost one. The comment period closes on October 6.

2) Donate to Sum Of Us, which is doing tremendous work on our pollinators’ behalf.

3) Buy organic seeds and plants. These days, even plants marked “bee friendly” are likely to have been treated with a pesticide, which creates toxic pollen. The only surefire way to provide SAFE forage is to buy organic.

Thanks for everything you do to help our pollinators!

~Elizabeth