Pimp My Apiary

I have beekeeper envy of my friend Earl’s bee yard in Port Costa. He has thirty-plus hives of happy, gentle bees that have acres and acres of unmolested meadows to draw from.

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Over Memorial Day Weekend, my other beekeeper pal Aaron and I helped Earl inspect his hives. First Earl schooled us on the proper way to light a smoker. Cedar slices + broken bits of tree branch + balls of green grass = a smoker that goes for an hour or more.

Then we checked his hives to make sure the bee colonies are thriving. We looked for eggs and a queen. Earl is so badass he doesn’t wear any protection.

During a snack break in his “bee trailer” (WANT), he showed us the pollen he’s collecting from just one hive.

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There were yellow, purple, grey, red and orange balls of pollen, all from the different plants growing in the area.

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Curious, we decided to separate and taste the different colors to see if we could tell which plants produced the pollen.

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Here are our tasting notes:

RED – earthy, with a sour, bitter bite. Most likely culprit: Buckeye

YELLOW – grassy, tastes like horse saddle. Plant guess: Mustard

PURPLE – floral, sweetpea. Plant guess: Thistle

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At the end of the day, Earl gave Aaron and me a split colony to take back to our garden in San Francisco. We call them “Earl’s Bees” and they are adjusting well to their urban neighbors. (hive on right)

 

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