NEW PROGRAM - BEE LIVES MATTER - MARCH 2018 - see below
BEE LIVES MATTER
Sponsor a bee hive - whole bee hive is $225/$250 (2 sizes - 8 frame or 10 frame)
OR GROUP HIVE - sponsor via the go fund me link
Drone = $10
Worker bee = $25
Queen bee = $50
your name on the hive and participate live or from afar
Program is to promote bees and education of beekeeping = also helps environment and you get honey!
- You get to decorate your own hive or participate in decorating the group hive
- Join us live when we install the bees and come work with the bees on scheduled maintenance dates
- We take video and have "facetime" for those that are remote sponsors
- learn all about beekeeping and the bees
- Participate in honey extraction, bottling and take home a "share" of honey for you and your friends/family
- Help sustainable agriculture by promoting healthy bee hives through this program with us!
- For only a small amount you get so much - education, hands on experience, and honey!
OVERVIEW of how we came to love bees:
The Loose Rooster Ranch is a woman owned business and, family managed and operated. At the Ranch we are focused on providing fresh seasonal vegetables, grown with the highest levels of care and love. – We consider ourselves an urban farm, surrounded by residences, in the East Bay, San Francisco Bay Area, California USA.
We are a small ranch of 4.75 acres. We strive to be a sustainable farm, growing a variety of produce for people to choose from. In addition to seasonal vegetables, there are about 70 chickens that allowed to free range. The chickens are in various stages of their life, some providing organic eggs and, some are sold to individuals. Many are our primary “natural pesticide” often being found among the plants eating the bugs. We also compost the manure from the chickens and the six horses, and till it into the soil to give back the nutrients used to grow the vegetables. We are registered for organic certification and grow organic vegetables and harvest organic seeds.
With all that we grow, we need to ensure pollination is occuring. The newest highlight and, the most exciting aspect of the ranch, is our APIARY. The apiary, which consists of owner operated and managed bee hives. The bees are the pilot and focus of this project.
OUR PROJECT GOALS – Pilot
- To promote and maintain the levels of bees supporting the ecosystem of southeastern Brentwood, and Discovery Bay areas.
- To educate the public on beekeeping practices, and promotion of bee gardens in residential areas as well as vacant fields.
- To produce quality local, raw honey & products that are available for direct sale to the public
- To create a long term program that is beneficial to the local area agriculture, providing experiences and education, and to allow participation from the public.
- To promote future beekeepers
OUR PROJECT SPECIFICATIONS - Pilot
- Maintain existing hives and hive equipment
- Expand hives and colonies
- Extract honey, honey comb, and pollen for private and public use
- Utilize our skills & knowledge to enrich the general public, future beekeepers and hobbyists.
- Honeybees are used to assist in pollination of the ranch crops and local crops.
- Produce and promote honeybee products for personal and public use
Education and purchase of pilot hives complete
Our first step: was learn about bees, and how to establish an apiary. This included taking classes and practicing hive management on established hives. Learning through reading, joining a local beekeeping association and, purchasing bees, equipment and establishing the first hive(s) at the property.
We observed 3 years of commercial bee hives that were kept on the property: Currently there are about 80 hives on the ranch that are used for area crop pollination (orchards & almonds) in the late winter, early spring. These bees are moved out to local farms, then returned to the ranch where they stay all summer, fall and early winter. Even though these bees are not owned by the ranch, they are hives that can be observed and maintained for educational purposes as well. Beekeepers at the ranch are able to observe when the owner maintain the hives and are able to learn different methods of care of the apiaries.
Establishment of owner owned hives on the property was also vital to the success of the pilot. The milestone was reached when The Loose Rooster Ranch had a year of beehives, conducted live care, gained knowledge and was able to extract and sell honey at the farm stand.
Pilot hives complete
Establishment of 3 hives for the pilot program:
The Ranch established 3 hives from March 2017 to March 2018. 2 of the 3 hives perished due to Varroa mite infestation and maintenance fail. 3rd, “wild” hive survived, and is strong, with a double brood hive box. The Ranch gained knowledge and practice over the year. Learning from the failed hives, and under guidance from the beekeepers association as well as the commercial beekeepers:
- 1st hive was a purchased pack of 15k and queen from San Francisco Bee and Pollen Co and installed
- 2nd hive was an established colony that was transported out of a field 7 miles from ranch, and maintained
- 3rd hive was owner’s first captured swarm and wild from Discovery Bay, wintered and is thriving with two brood deep hive boxes.
1st year education complete
During the pilot hives first year, the hives were used as an educational opportunity to the community. The ranch beekeepers immersed themselves in the beekeepers world and, covered education where they were able to teach classes with live participation:
- Beekeeping 101 - basics
- Equipment basics (suit, tools, hives)
- How to install a queen into a new hive
- How to assemble (build) a new hive and its components
- How to maintain a hive; hive inspections, what to look for, cleaning, and pest maintenance (mites, ants, moth, mice/rodents), hive disease and colony collapse disorder.
- How to harvest (extraction)
- Packaging (weight, bottling, certification) and labeling requirements for sale, storage
- Honey creations: soap, lotion and wax products
- Pollen collection & sale
- Honey comb production, packaging & sale
The beekeepers of the ranch joined local beekeeping clubs and volunteered with these organizations. Continuing goals include; gaining knowledge on beekeeping and methods used. Education to the public.
Education - 2nd year and ongoing
As always education does not stop after the initial year. There is always a need to learn and participate to expand one's knowledge. In the second & third year of the program, the Ranch will attend a state or national bee convention and, also participate in educating the public at offsite events such as (but not limited to)
- Agricultural programs and fairs for County and/or State of California
- Future Farmers of America program and local schools
- California beekeeping associations
- Craft and vendor fairs
- Corporations that support agriculture or bee industry (i.e. Google hives)
- Participating in surveys as needed
- Maintaining the ranch website, video, maintaining FAQ (frequently asked questions) page to answer questions from public
Purchase and installation of additional hives
With experience firsthand, the Ranch beekeepers have found that the bee life cycle is volatile and not very long. The rate of fail is 40% to 50% according to California Beekeepers. According the University of Maryland survey, the rate of failure of a colony was 44% in 2016 (read more here). Beekeepers have to continually replenish hives year after year to sustain the ecosystem.
The average cost to purchase a new queen and ten thousand bees (for one hive installation) is $120 - $150. The bees are purchased from local area beekeepers that specialize in honeybees and/or queen rearing in the area.
- During our 2nd year we have aligned with the local fire department and county services and we are on their public calls in regarding swarms and have the ability to capture more swarms
- During our 2nd year we will be working with local beekeeper associations (Mt Diablo Beekeepers & San Francisco Beekeepers Association) which include “splitting hives” and queen rearing
- Hive boxes are maintained on an annual basis with a lifespan of 3 years on the box and 1.5 years on the frames. Replacing old items as needed to ensure the best for the bees.
- Tools and equipment (Suits, hive tools, extraction and other components) have a longer term lifespan of 2 to 5 years, and will be purchased as needed. The ranch currently has equipment for use by the public and maintains that equipment for that purpose.
Bee Lives Matter project - project to commence April 2018
This Project is a way to be part of a growing interest in promoting and care of the honey bee. To assist in maintaining the population of bees within the Brentwood/Discovery Bay area. Expansion is not limited to this area. At the start the program, hives will all be located at the “Ranch” - The Loose Rooster Ranch at 3280 Bixler Road, Brentwood, CA 94513. Additional locations will be considered based upon County and Local regulations. Some areas have restrictions against apiaries so landowners have to be up to date on local and county laws. Ranch will install hives as requested as long as the condition and requirements are met.
It must be made clear that the first and most important purpose of this program is to expand and support the colonies of pollinating bees in the immediate area of Brentwood & Discovery Bay - for farming and agriculture purposes and, to promote pollination awareness and education to the Public. Although the program is not tax deductible, and the participation in the program is completely voluntary, any proceeds or portions of the proceeds from the program, will go back into the program so that they are used to maintain the hives as best as possible.
The products that are made and consumed (honey and products) will be for the Publc and Ranch consumption. There is an incentive to share. Therefore:
The advantages and appeal to the Public are as follows, but not limited to:
- Promote the honeybee as a pollinator.
- Encourage honeybee awareness and grant public access to beekeeping
- Participation: Remote participation or live participation
- Sponsorship of a “bee hive box”
- Establishment of public sponsors called “beehive warriors”
- Beehives will be decorated by a beehive warriors. Ranch beekeepers or volunteers will decorate hives for the Sponsors (if they are remote)
- Beehive warriors are those that have sponsored a “hive box” and they can choose to participate in live beekeeping, or learning as much or as little as they would like
- Beehive warriors hives’ on the Loose Rooster Ranch property for the program duration, or at the beginning of the program can choose another property (within the agreed maintenance area and according to County Codes).
- Beehive warriors will have remote access and/or live access to their ‘hive account’; documentation logs, pictures and video once a month, of the hive and can visit hives during ranch working hours.
- Beehive warriors can choose to participate in live honey harvest, bottling, and will have a % share of the honey extracted.
- Beehive warriors can extend their membership in year two, and/or sponsor more than one hive.
- Beehive warriors will be allowed to participate in activities - first come, first served, at the ranch including overnight and Airbnb opportunities Ongoing Maintenance
The Loose Rooster Ranch maintenance program is to be tailored to the individual beehive warrior, based on their location (remote) or their participation level. The maintenance of the hives on the ranch will be maintained by the Ranch, however owners can participate live by making an appt with the ranch for a “visit” during working hours.
The sponsorship is for the “purchase “of a complete hive and the year of maintenance. The cost per hive is $225. Included is one brood box of 8 frames with natural wax rite-cell. The frames are 9 ⅛ deep. The box will has a top and bottom, and a screen for summer. There is an option of sponsoring a 10 frame box as well for $250.
Price includes maintenance of the bees and box for a year by the ranch. A year is either from installation of the bees or if a hive is captured, or split.
The ‘honey maker’ top box will be available to be installed by the Ranch when the ranch beekeeper has inspected and decided it is ready for honey making. The bees will be purchased by the Ranch and will be owned by the Ranch for the colony lifecycle. Note: if the colony does not survive the first year, bees can then be “rented” by the beehive warriors for the next consecutive years up to 3 years maximum.
Bee installation is usually in the month of April 2018 and will be communicated accordingly.
Maintenance will start two weeks after bees are installed. Monthly maintenance will depend on weather, the hive size, hive numbers, honey maker top box, and time of year. (More details will be communicated to the beehive warriors during the program)
Hives are to be checked and serviced every two weeks once the weather is above 60 degrees during the day. (Usually March through Nov). In winter - Dec - Feb hives are checked and maintained as necessary with as little invasion as possible to the wintering bee colonies.
The sponsor of the hive box, will sponsor for one year, with the ability to renew for an additional years. If the hive survives into the second year, the sponsor will only pay for a flat fee of $50 which will be collected April 1st, of each year.
If the hive does not survive the 2nd year, the owner can choose to “rent” new bees (that are purchased or bred from the ranch) at a discount of $95 per year. The owner of the hive-box can rent bees up to the 3rd year.
Hive boxes have a depreciated lifespan up to 3 years. If a hive is damaged due to pests, weather or elements, the hive box will be replaced by the ranch in the first, second or 3rd year. After the third year, the hive boxes will be repurposed and if bees are still living they will be used to pollinate the local farms and orchards, and become part of the “pollination program” of the ranch. In addition, some hives are strong in their second and third years and the beehive warrior may want to assist in hive splitting where there will be two colonies instead of only one. The Ranch will work with the beehive warrior to determine what is best for the colony if this should occur.
If the beehive warrior’s hives survive into the 3rd or 4th years, they should consider splitting or perhaps volunteering to education new beehive warriors – giving back to the community when they can!
Honey - Special section for honey.
Everyone loves honey! The bees produce honey, pollen and honeycomb. There is usually a large honey flow between May and July in the area. This means that there will be honey to extract. The beehive warriors will be able to participate in this “production” as well as take a % of the honey that is produced by their hive. The honey produced will be offered for sale. However the sponsor will receive a percentage of honey! The amount will be determined according to how much is produced by their hive.
In a normal flow, a hive box (top box honey maker of an 8 frame) will produce an average of 2 to 3 gallons of honey, and about 250 oz. per hive. Usually we will allow a couple of frames to remain in the hive to support the bees. We do not want to rob them especially as we get toward fall or if there is drought. With that said, the yield would be 1.5 to 2.5 gallons. The beehive warrior will receive 25% of that yield. This is a nice advantage to sponsoring the hive since honey is an amazing product! If the hive sponsor doesn’t want all the honey, they can donate it back into the program to be used by the ranch to promote and put funding back into the program.
The Ranch requests from the beehive warrior to take the “bee oath”. This oath is for their % of honey produced, to be for their own consumption or as a gift. They may not sell their honey for profit!!! This is very important and we ask that the moto of “Don’t be Selfish” is adopted and ensured. The success of the program depends on it!
Initial Project, equipment detail and Program Expansion
The Loose Rooster Ranch will provide hive boxes that are purchased from distributor (Mann Lake), or personally made and assembled by the beehive warriors or beekeepers at the ranch. The wood grade is premium and the frames are premium 9 ⅝” natural waxed rite-cell from Mann Lake. The hive box must be painted to protect it from the elements and repainted as necessary. The hive box will be offered for painting to upon sponsorship by the beehive warrior. Exterior paint is to be used in any color except dark colors or black. The beehive warrior will be given instructions on how to paint and shown examples of what to paint.
The beehive warrior will paint the hive boxes within 2 weeks of receipt or depending on time of year may need to expedite if necessary. Hive boxes need to be back to the Ranch a before the time of bee installation.
The ranch will maintain 3 to 5 hives of its own. In addition the “Bee Lives Matter” Project will offer sponsors the ability to have hives (up to 8 are planned). Expansion of the program will only be after initial installment and assessment of sustainability of the 8 hives with first flow and after ranch beekeeper have evaluated to ensure the number is sustainable with current climate conditions.
If project is successful, then the 3rd year expansion should be 50% to 200% and depending on interest. Expansion of hives to surrounding areas and installation on private property to be made available as allowed.
Bee Lives Matter - Additional programs in year 2 & 3
The Loose Rooster Ranch will expand to include Airbnb experiences as one of its offerings for travelers to the area. The experience will showcase bees and beekeeping and offer the overnight guest(s) the ability to learn about bees and beekeeping.
Beehive sponsors will be able to book a stay at the ranch as well in order to participate in hive events and maintenance.
Beehive warriors in their second and third year are encouraged to “give back” to the community and conduct a fun training, educational participation, join a local beekeeping organization or assist new beehive warriors.
WITH THAT SAID – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Sign up today, and get started on this unique and exceptional experience. Become a sponsor and a beehive warrior today!
8oz for $8
12oz for $12
16oz/1lb for $16
Harvesting our "Flow Hive"