Beekeeping is first and foremost a study of place. What are the regional climate conditions? Are they warm or cool, wet or dry, coastal or continental? How about vegetation? What are the flowering plants in your area and when do they bloom? Do you live in a rural or urban environment? Importantly, will you be obtaining a bee stock which is disease-resistant and adapted to your area?
My mission with bees is simple; they come first. I don’t hustle my bees for honey, pollination, wax, propolis, royal jelly, pollen or publicity. I look after the bees. They are under tremendous environmental stress. I don’t medicate bees, but rather let them build their own disease resistance. I rear queens responsibly from the strongest local stock I can isolate. I feel a strong sense of responsibility to not only my managed colonies but the feral population as well. I understand that they’re not “my bees” they are “our bees” and open mating affects all the bees in a three mile radius of all my apiaries. I do my best to keep any used comb or honey inaccessible to other bees in an effort to prevent spreading pathogens. I work with the bees, not against them. I believe the backyard beekeeper will be the one that survives the species. I simply love bees and believe that they will thrive if cared for properly!
Our bee colonies originate from the feral bee population of Napa Valley, which are specifically conditioned to our environment. Although honeybees are not native to North America, the local bee stock is in part descended from bees brought to California during the time of the Gold Rush. Over a century and a half of natural selection has resulted in bees which successfully survive and reproduce in our area. These include various behavioral and hygienic traits which give them an advantage over bees imported from other localities. As bees everywhere are faced with a bewildering array of pests, diseases, and other environmental pollutants, we are constantly striving to cultivate bee stock which is healthy and not reliant on chemical treatments for survival. Artificial maintenance of the weak colonies only serves to weaken the greater bee population in general! As beekeepers, we have a responsibility to manage not only our own bees, but the health of all bees in the area—both wild and managed colonies.
Like the bees of our area, we call Napa Valley home. We live and work in the community and are intimately acquainted with the micro-climates in the region. Whenever possible, we support local businesses in the purchase of supplies and services. NVBC works to educate the public and support community beekeeping practices which are safe and beneficial to the bee population at large. Instructional classes in hive management are periodically offered at the Boca Farm Apiary and through the Napa Adult School. We also know the importance of reaching young audiences, so we present at local elementary school assemblies and job fairs, host field trips at our educational apiary, and present at summer camps. NVBC also hosts local beekeepers association meetings and workshops at our educational apiary in an effort to foster new beekeepers into intermediate and advanced level beekeepers. For those who don’t have experience with bees and are interested in learning more, group tours and speaking engagements are available on request.
Healthy organic hive products are the fruits of the bees’ labor… and ours! Especially prized are regional honeys from localities around Napa Valley. Ever had a Carneros, Yountville, or St. Helena honey? As different as the wines produced in these regions, each honey exhibits its own unique character depending on the local forage and what is in bloom. NVBC supplies honey to many top restaurants in the valley and maintains close relationships with “local-vore” chefs. Honey may come in the jar or comb, and may be light or dark depending on the season. If we manage your hives, you will be able to sample honey from your own location. Napa Valley Bee Co. practices foundationless beekeeping, where we let the bees build their own wax combs, so all of our wax is made by local bees that have not been chemically treated. Beeswax may be used for a variety of purposes, including candles, beauty products, soap, lip balms, and as a natural waterproofing and wood polishing material. Propolis, a sap-like product collected by the bees, is produced in new-growth tree buds. The bees use it to seal and protect their hive. It has natural antibiotic properties and many health benefits for both bees and humans.