Fallbrook, Vista, Bonsall, Rainbow, and many other parts of San Diego have the most mild climate in America. This makes for an abundance of diverse agriculture and wildflowers in bloom. Farms and gardens need bees. One can make a living leasing and transporting healthy bee colonies to farms. There’s a unique energy about bees. They are collective intelligence. An elegant network of tens of thousands of drones with one queen ever-making more of them, drawing pollen from nearby agriculture and wildflowers and making premium San Diego Local Honey. Even in April, inland temperatures break 80 degrees. Bees won’t fly in the cold.
Fallbrook Apiary. Macadamia Tree on the left.
A healthy beehive makes 30 of pounds of honey per week. Every slat of honeycomb is built from scratch (a beekeeper can also elect to insert a starter) and can hold up 10 pounds of honey or more. Tasting honey right out of the hive is like nothing else. It is buttery nectar. The Fallbrook apiaries draw pollen from macadamia, various citrus, avocado and wildflower blossom such as mustard and California poppy. In Rainbow Heights, there was purple sage and the apiaries are much bigger sitting adjacent to an organic avocado farm. High in the hills there is an abundance of blossoming sage and spring avocado bloom which makes dark San Diego Local honey and tastes of molasses.
One bee will fly as far as two miles to gather pollen or sap. Bees make a number of “products,” honey, royal jelly, and gathered pollen, and propolis. Propolis is a collection of sap that the bees use as a mortar for a hive. The “unprocessed” pollen is used to cap the gestating bee larvae in the honeycomb. However, the larvae also need food to grow, so royal jelly is packed on top of the egg. There’s one queen bee for every hive that reaches up to 100,000 drone bees. Once the honeycomb is built, she fills each hole with an egg, which gestates into a bee in about 12 days. The average lifespan of a drone bee is 30 days.
The beekeeper always carries a smoker to disorientate a hive. This makes them less likely to attack while he pulls slats of brimming honeycomb. While the European breed of honeybee is gentle, the Africanized bee is always at war. Rather than making honey for winter, as the European bees do, the Africanized bees produce far more drones than honey. Yet, Max keeps them anyways. While I watched him work over the course of two hours he was stung three times through his bee suit. Keeping large apiaries on his own is a full time job. Negligence will devastate a hive and it takes a trained eye to catch a problem before it starts.
We have deep respect and admiration for the bee; its efficiency, its selflessness, and its unrelenting drive to provide for the next generation. Surely, spending a few hours with them left me a buzz and wanting more San Diego Local Honey.