Come visit us in person and learn more about our passion for bees at The Valley Hive!
I have a big cluster of bees hanging off a branch by my front door! Am I in danger?
No. You are likely seeing a swarm, not an established hive. The difference? A swarm is merely a group of bees with a queen that has left their home and looking for a new one. They don’t have any brood (developing baby bees) to guard or honey to defend, so they are generally very gentle. A hive of bees will have comb, a laying queen, stored honey, and usually they will be inside of a cavity.
Do you remove bees for free? Aren’t you getting free bees?
No. There is no such thing as “free bees.” Besides the normal costs of operation that any other business endures such as rent, fuel, labor, insurance, etc, there is also the very real costs associated with bees themselves. Hive bodies, frames, and medicine, are just a few of the beekeeping costs that are anything but free.
Can you give me an estimate over the phone for removing a hive from my property?
Not likely. Unfortunately, over the phone we have no way of knowing the size of the colony and therefore we don’t know how long we will be working to remove it. The colony’s accessibility is also a factor, as it will take considerable more time removing bees from a stucco wall, for example, than an irrigation control box. Once a technician assesses the colony at your location, he or she can provide a much more reasonable expectation surrounding the cost of removal. We do offer free estimates.
How do you remove the bees without hurting them?
In short, very carefully. Once the colony is made accessible, the bees are typically vacuumed into a cushioned, bee-safe holding box while the brood comb (their babies developing inside of the wax) is carefully cut out and placed into frames. The honey comb is also removed. All of this material is taken to a bee yard where the bees will be reunited with the brood comb and will be fed back their honey. From there they will be treated like any other managed hive and will be given medicine or food as needed.
How long will it take to remove the colony from my home?
It depends on how large the colony is. That is typically influenced by how long they have made a home on your property. Accessibility of their location is also a significant factor. The range is anywhere from an hour to a couple of days. A technician will be able to give you an approximate timeline once he or she is on site and able to directly assess your bee situation.
I want to keep my bees that you remove from my house! How do I do that?
We are excited you want to get into the ancient craft of beekeeping! With that said, there are some steps involved with keeping bees responsibly. First, schedule a free site survey from The Valley Hive to assess if you have enough space to keep bees. We will help you choose the best place to keep your hive at your home that will be safest for you, family, pets, and neighbors. As the technician is removing the colony, he will be able to assess whether their temperament is suitable for a backyard hive. It is NEVER a good idea to have defensive bees in your yard. Once the hive is removed from your home, it needs to go on a field trip for a couple of weeks to have its “compass” reset so foragers do not return to the original hive location in your house. This will give you time to visit The Valley Hive, learn about beekeeping, get your safety equipment like suit, gloves, smoker, and hive tool as well as purchasing the hive equipment that your bees will live in. The colony is then delivered to its new home in your brand new hive boxes.
How do I know that I can be a beekeeper?
Are you a curious person? Are you fascinated by the prospect of being involved in a form of animal husbandry that goes back some 10,000 years? Does the thought of the possibility of having the most local honey imaginable excite you? Do you have a garden and you know the pollination prowess of honeybees will only make your yield better? Does the challenge of overcoming your fears handling stinging insects excite you? Are you willing to learn, to attend community bee meetings and take advantage of the beekeeping networks near you? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you are ready to begin the process of learning about this amazing craft.
How do I get started?
Come on by and visit us at The Valley Hive and check out our observation hive as one of our experts explains what you are seeing behind the glass. Check out our reading material and consider attending our Beekeeping Experience. You also have local clubs in the area such as the Los Angeles Beekeeping Association that has been around since 1873! They have monthly meetings held the first Monday of every month and you will get the chance to learn from beekeepers with a single hive in their backyards or those with hundreds.
What do I need with my first hive?
Safety equipment such as a suit and gloves. Basic beekeeping tools of the trade includes the bee brush, hive tool, and smoker. Finally, The Valley Hive recommends the beginning beekeeper to have a bottom board, a deep hive body, 10 frames, a frame feeder, and a cover. Our Basic Starter Hive is ideal for the beginning beekeeper. From there, just add bees and your love and care.
How often will I get stung?
Under ideal conditions, likely not much at all. Our beekeeper works hundreds of hives a week and rarely gets stung. The key is to work them appropriately and to keep nice and gentle bees. A hive that stings is indicative of something that is wrong. So while getting stung is certainly inevitable with keeping bees, it is not a usual occurrence.
What is a package of bees?
A package of bees is a glorified wooden shoebox like enclosure with ventilation on two sides containing a queen, a feeder can, and about three pounds of bees. This is typically the most economic option for getting bees. Packages are available in April. Call us for details for reserving your bees!
What is a nuc?
A nuc is short for “nucleus.” It consists of five frames of bees comprised of honey, pollen, brood, and a laying queen. These are more expensive than packages since they already have the frames drawn out and they are, for all intents and purposes, a thriving hive. Call us for details as to how or order and pickup.
I want to keep bees SO, SO badly, but I can’t keep them where I’m staying. Can I keep bees at your apiary and I can work them there?
Yes! You can rent a hive stand with us and keep up to five hives at our location in Chatsworth. You will need to demonstrate that you are able to work your bees independently, or you will be required to take some training classes with our beekeeper until you are ready to manage your hive on your own.
Does honey go bad?
No. Never. Seriously. They found 4,000 year old honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that was still good to eat.
Where should I store honey?
In your cupboard or counter. Do not put it in the refrigerator as it can speed up granulation.
The honey crystallized in the jar! Does this mean sugar was added or it’s fake?!
Not at all. Nearly all honey will granulate at some point.
Why does honey granulate?
Hоnеу іѕ а hіghlу соnсеntrаtеd саrbоhуdrаtе ѕоlutіоn. On average, honey is about 70% саrbоhуdrаtеѕ аnd lеѕѕ thаn 20% wаtеr. Тhіѕ mеаnѕ thаt the wаtеr іn hоnеу соntаіnѕ muсh more sugar thаn іt саn nаturаllу dіѕѕоlvе. This abundance mаkеѕ thе ѕоlutіоn unѕtаblе. Granulation іѕ аn аbѕоlutеlу nаturаl рhеnоmеnоn whісh оссurѕ whеn gluсоѕе ѕераrаtеѕ frоm wаtеr, аftеr whісh gluсоѕе rеmаіnѕ іn thе fоrm оf сrуѕtаlѕ аnd thе іnіtіаl соnсеntrаtеd ѕоlutіоn finds a balanced state.
How do I re-liquefy the honey so it isn’t granulated anymore?
Remove the lid of the jar with honey. Place in hot water (not boiling) up to the “shoulder” of the jar on the stove. Depending on the extent of granulation, the honey will be liquid in a matter of minutes. Just remember not to let it get too hot!
Can local honey help with my allergies?
The idea behind honey treating allergies is similar to that of a person getting allergy shots. But while allergy shots have been proven to be effective, honey hasn’t. When a person eats local honey, they are thought to be ingesting local pollen. Over time, a person may become less-sensitive to this pollen. As a result, they may experience fewer seasonal allergy symptoms.
Is your honey organic?
We have all seen the USDA Organic certification symbol on some honeys. But what does it really mean? If the honey is harvested outside of the US itis considered Organic if it meets that country’s organic standards. There are NO U.S. STANDARDS for certified Organic Honey, so compliance on that point is quite easy. In some countries Organic standards are rough: the UK, the European Union, Canada, Singapore…they all have tough standards. In other places, “organic” honey is not so “organic”.The term “organic” is, unfortunately, a term and a condition that has little to no government or institutional oversight. It is a term that we need only pay to have. We guarantee our honey is pure honey, unfiltered and unadulterated. We cannot control where the bees fly, as they can travel up to 5 miles from where their hive is located.
What is raw honey?
Raw honey is honey as it was inside of the hive. After extraction, it is unfiltered, unheated, unprocessed, and kept below 120 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent breaking down important enzymes and compounds that add to the flavor and health qualities of the honey.
How do you get different flavors? Do you add anything to the honey?
We add nothing to our honey. To get a different variety of honey, we simply move our bees to an area that has a specific nectar that we are interested in. For example, if we want avocado honey, we simply move our bees onto an avocado orchard. If we want orange honey, we move the bees to an orange orchard. Every kind of nectar has its own flavor profile and characteristics.