The Birds and their Bees!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Today folks -- a "first ever" event for the blog that is Sacramento Vegetable Gardening. The husband now steps aside for the first time to welcome a "guest blogger" -- the wife and the gardening inspiration that is "Venus."

So how do you spend your last “Furlough Friday” as a state worker when your husband’s boss says he can have the day off to be with you? With the tax man and at a BEE STORE of course!!!

A bee store? Really? A place where we go to actually spend what little tax return we’ll be getting on something that’s going to sting us? You have GOT TO BE KIDDING. And who EVER heard of a bee store?

I was skeptical, as I usually am when heading off on one of Bill Bird’s “great adventures.” But, he bought me a really nice lunch that included a couple of Modelo Especiales, so at that point … I was game.

So into Midtown Sacramento we went and I realized I had driven by Sacramento Bee Keeping Supplies at least a million times as it is near my former place of employment. But I had never noticed it was a BEE STORE, in spite of the bees and honey combs painted on it.

I walked in and was amazed. I just kept looking at all of the products made with honey and other bee byproducts, candles, lotions, and all the little bee knick knacks, and wasn’t even paying attention to the whole live bee thing until Bill approached the desk and asked about ordering bees. At which point we found out we’d be at the END of the list. There are other people out there just as whacked? Really??

So she told us it would cost 100 bucks for the colony, this amount for this, that amount for that and an additional 50 something for some contraption to get the honey. To which Bill says, “Oh, I don’t care about honey, I just want them to pollinate the garden.” Bill is quite obsessed with the lack of bees in North Natomas where we live as evidenced by his
letter to the editor in the Sacramento BEE!!

But given that bees are all about honey I had to chime in, “If we’re spending this much money, we might as well reap something from this whole ordeal.” So we got the contraption for the honey. The whole set up is pretty complicated but I think Bill understands it so that’s good. And we were told we have to paint the outside of the wooden contraption where our bees will hang out. Bill said I get to paint it. So now, I must go buy some PINK paint. And Bill says I can stencil a Hello Kitty onto it. That’ll be great since I know our four kitties are going to LOVE their thousand or so new friends with stingers!!!


Bill's Note: The wife and I purchased the basic "Beginner's Kit" from Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies -- which includes a complete one-story beehive containing the top and bottom, plus ten frames that go inside the hive -- a standard hive tool -- standard tin smoker -- a mesh hat and round veil (don't I look just stylin in this getup?) -- extra large size gloves that fit up to the elbows -- a "feeder" (yes -- you've got to feed them bees as I've learned) and the book "First Lessons in Beekeeping."

I peppered the poor woman who helped me with a number of questions because, like the beginniner I am, I had NO idea of what I was getting myself into. And she was using terms like "nucs" and "supers" and other terms that sounded like they had more use in the Klingon Language than with beekeeping.

But the book, which was an easy read, explained a lot of questions. The most eye-opening part came with the chapter that dealt with honey production. You see -- I didn't want bees for honey. I wanted them for pollination. Too bad -- because I'm going to get honey -- and a lot of it apparently.

If I do this right -- and most beginners don't mind you -- one, single hive can produce as much as 100 lbs. of honey during the normal production season. What am I going to do with 100 lbs. of honey? Not only honey -- but beeswax -- which is used for the production of candles, soaps, shampoos, you name it.

So -- whether the wife and I like it or not -- it looks like we're going into the "bee business."

We don't have the bees yet -- they will be delivered later. First -- we have to get the hive painted and situated in the right area -- and then we can expect the bees and the all important "Queen Bee" to be delivered at some point in late April or early May.

The delivery will come too late for the peach and plum trees that are already in full bloom in our backyard -- but right on time for the citrus, melon and pumpkin patches.
Stay tuned -- this is going to get rather interesting. I wonder how the neighbors will react to a beehive in the backyard? Perhaps they'll teach that pesky dog that never stops barking a thing or two. Venus and I know this much -- our four cats are in for a very big surprise.

Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies does have a website -- which you can access here. You can also email them at

But -- if you're in the market for a hive -- a word to the wise: don't wait. They are one of the few Mom & Pop Sacramento stores that are absolutely THRIVING during this economic downturn. My order -- even though it was placed in early March -- put me on the "third shipment" list. And the explanation I received was that "third shipments are very rare."


Garry said...


i started out like you - back in the late 90's an soon expanded to about 8 hives at my house in cameron park. fred and nancy (owners of the store) are great and a big help for beginners. i moved in 2005 and havent had the time to restart my bees - but am hoping 2009 is the year. if you have any questions shoot me an email and i will do what i can to help.


Bill Bird said...


How about coming over to my house when the bees arrive!!!! I could use somebody who knows what they are doing!

Roya Rose said...

t to do with all that honey? Why, share it with your friends of course!!!!

Garry said...


i would be happy to, i do have a tight schedule - 2 kids, cubscouts, etc - but with enuff lead time, i could carve off time for you. i would be happy to assist. so please, if you have a date now, let me know and i will put it on my calendar.

to be prepped for the bees (you may already know) but you will need:

10 frames w/ wax sheets installed,
a painted hive, with top and bottom, bee feeder - you probably got the perforated top, you just need the mason jar body (these things you probably got in your package.

things to help w/ install:

spray bottle - this will contain sugar water which will be used to get the bees out of the package the arrive in.

make sure you already have a place for your hive selected as you dont want to be moving the hive once the bees call it home. ideally, look for a place that gets morning sun, some dappled shade in the afternoon and sun in the evening. if no spot in the yard fits this - look for the sunniest spot - you dont want a hive in shade full time. call my cell 916-390-8247 and we can talk.


Nels said...

Bill: Real bee excitement in San Diego according to the Chronicle. See the link at: