Walking along a park-side path in Nipomo, my Naturalist brain was cataloging the flora along the side of the walkway. “Oak, lupin, buckwheat, lilac, sage, a gigantic swarm of bees, toyon, mugwart…wait. Go back. A giant swarm of bees?!” About three feet from where I was standing a thrumming, writhing mass of bees had taken over a green-waste bin. Below the amber mat of wiggling insects read a sign, “STAND BACK-SWARMING BEES”.
Who could have been brave or foolhardy enough to get close enough to this many stinging bugs to post a warning? As far as I knew, bees were outside of Animal Control’s jurisdiction, and calling Pest Control for the eradication of these pollinators would be a waste of life, potential revenue, and an added blow to the already long list of adversities facing our country’s hives. What was going to happen to this newly formed, awkwardly placed colony? Luckily for these buzzing ladies, San Luis Obispo County is honeybee friendly.
Around spring, hives produce new queens, allowing the old queen to venture forth with a portion of the colony’s population to establish a new group. This party of drones and queen are collectively known as a swarm, and they can set up shop wherever they feel a hive would be safe and productive. Humans and bees at times disagree as to where these locations should be, and in the event of an unwanted swarm in your backyard, there are a couple of people in San Luis Obispo Country you can call.
The Humble Bumble: Based in downtown San Luis Obispo, Isaac and Ross from The Humble Bumble will remove swarms and give them a good home. If you are lucky, you might even have an opportunity to visit your hive and taste some of their honey once they are established in their new, comfortable boxes.
The California Bee Company: Jeremy from the California Bee Company, LLC not only offers free swarm removal, but also breeds bees, trains those interested in starting their own apiary, and sells honey, wax, candles, pollen and propolis straight from the hive. The company is now selling mite-resistant queens that are specially adapted for the Central Coast.
David’s Blue Ribbon Honey: For residents of Arroyo Grande and the Five Cities area, David Maislen of David’s Blue Ribbon Honey, LLC will take care of your colony. He will do his utmost to save and transport the bees, but if for whatever reason they need to be euthanized, it is done without poisons. Keep an eye out for his award-winning line of honeys in fine groceries across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
Evergreen Landscaping: Tim Vaughan, founder of Evergreen Landscaping and Bee’s Best can take care of your yard, or the honeybees who use it to make a home. Removal generally costs between $50-100. He also sells his honey, wax, propolis, and pollen at farmer’s markets in Arroyo Grande.
With so many allies, I am confident that my Nipomo bees are destined for a good home where they can pollinate the many orchards and farms of San Luis Obispo County. With any luck, I’ll be able to taste their honey on my next trip to the local farmer’s market. Have any bees in your neighborhood? Where do you buy your honey?