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RBR News | May 26, 2016

Posted in Ranch Report

Around the Ranch
The Ranch’s new honey bees are in their new homes and settling well. It was quite an adventure to get them, so we’re relieved that the installation of the bee nuc and subsequent inspections have been smooth and successful. The Agriculture staff at the Ranch is pretty excited for this new endeavor – we are all beginner beekeepers, but enthusiastic nonetheless! 

Before the bees arrived, we did extensive research, took an online beekeeping course, and gained hands-on experience visiting a beekeeper neighbor down the road the day before our bees arrived. After a few minutes of exploring his hive for a routine inspection, we were a bit concerned about the amount of bees flying above our heads. Our neighbor didn’t share the same concern, so we continued pulling out frames and looking for the Queen, eggs, and brood. A few minutes later, thousands of bees were swarming around us. It’s a pretty interesting experience to stand among a colony of swarming bees… The sound was almost soothing, but the thought of them attacking was the opposite. The bees remained friendly, and eventually settled on some branches in a tree a few feet from the hive. The beekeeper tried to scrape some of the bees in a box to put them back in the hive. When this didn’t really work, he suggested we leave the bees alone in hopes they would return to their hive when night fell and it turned cold. We novice beekeepers took his advice and went back to the Ranch to continue our afternoon.

A bit later, Jason spoke with his sister, a talented and knowledgeable beekeeper, and she encouraged us to go catch the bees. “It’s a swarm!”, she kept exclaiming on the phone, and her excitement was infectious. It was a Friday evening, nearing six o’clock, but we were ready for the mission. Our friendly neighbor beekeeper lent us his bee equipment (ours was still in the mail) and we were off to catch the bees. Though we had left the bees in a somewhat chaotic atmosphere, we arrived back to a calm setting. The bees were clumped on top of each other in a mass about the size of a basketball. Not a single bee was airborne. Working together, we systematically cut off one branch at a time and cautiously carried them to the hive. We successfully moved all of the bees, Queen included, back into their hive!

The Ranch’s bee nucs arrived the next afternoon. It was a windy, so we waited until the weather calmed the next morning to install our bees. One by one, we placed the five frames into the larger hive, and added an additional three frames to the second hive. We did a quick inspection and saw larvae in both nucs, a positive sign that the Queen bee had been laying eggs in the last 3 days.

About a week after the installation, we inspected the two hives to look for the Queens, eggs, and brood. After scanning a frame full of bees, we spotted the Queen, who is longer and thinner than worker bees and has really short wings. In the next hive we found eggs and brood, but couldn’t spot the Queen. The eggs were a positive sign, and we’ll re-inspect the hive soon to confirm the Queen is present.

In addition to our new bees, we’ve been busy at the Ranch with our new cattle (read about this soon!), finishing an irrigation line, hundreds of meat chickens, and seeding lots of vegetables.

Available Products
Eggs are now available for sale at Hallam Lake in Aspen during open hours (Monday - Friday 9AM - 5PM). All products can be purchased at the Ranch during open hours (Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday 9AM – 1PM). Please call ahead to confirm availability or to place an order for pick-up.

  • We now have a steady supply of our locally famous, pasture-raised, non-GMO, Animal Welfare Approved, delicious chicken eggs. 
  • A full pork inventory is available including chops, bacon, ribs, roasts, and ground pork.

~ Alyssa Barsanti, Agriculture Assistant

Rock Bottom Ranch is open Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday from 9AM – 1PM with Farm Tours each day at 11AM. For questions about Rock Bottom Ranch please email Jason at jsmith@aspennature.org.