Bees Away! Bound for California — Dec. 2021

The Ebert Honey bee migration to California is winding up for 2021. We loaded the last truck a couple of nights ago, so they should arrive before the weekend. I originally thought our favorite driver would take this last load in mid December, but I had the opportunity to move up the departure by one week and went for it. Since the weather becomes more fickle and harder on the bees as we get deeper into December, it seemed like the right choice. Now that I see roughly forty inches of snow are expected throughout next week in the Truckee/Donner Pass area, I feel even better about the decision. Hopefully the rest of the journey for the last load goes smoothly through that region since almost no precipitation is expected this week. There are a lot of pullouts on that part of the interstate for semi drivers to check and cool their brakes as they wind through the Sierras.

Here we are securing a recent load against whatever it might encounter on the way to California.

Alex sets the v-board straps while Chris pulls it true.

It looks like a few inches of rain will fall in short order in the part of the valley where our bees overwinter before almond pollination. Every bit of moisture feels welcome after hearing about how burned up the region got last year after we returned to Iowa. The images of flames and smoke were incredible. Plenty of beekeepers kept their bees on the move dodging fires or lost some to the flames. The only thing left when pallets of bees burn is a specific pattern of ashes littered with nails that hint at what once existed. We shall hope 2022 turns out to be greener. For the moment the area’s getting some moisture and dipping into the 50s for daytime highs and getting close to 32 overnight. It’s much balmier than our Midwestern winters but not exactly tropical.

Andrew helped do a bit of the pallet cleaning that goes with hive stacking before some bees went on a truck last week. He didn’t like the idea of dad going out to work alone later at night, so he kindly pitched in before bedtime. Here he is going out with a happy face!

Andrew has a weirdly high aptitude for outdoor work so far in his life. It fits right in with the bee world.

There aren’t too many times during the year when we get to truly feel relaxed, but successfully getting all of the bees out of Iowa is an achievement that usually brings a big sigh of relief. It’s a tremendous amount of work getting all the work done and tying up the logistics. Then we live one month on an easier schedule before going to face the music in California and find out what lived or died. I felt good about the prospects of the majority of the hives since we seemed to do quite a bit better keeping down the varroa load through the bulk of the year. We will find out the truth soon after the turn of 2022.

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