I’ve been a resident here for along time, and because my sons live here, I still consider it my second home.

In keeping with the goals of WBI, the first people I wanted to meet are two beekeeping friends who can be found in one of the most beautiful of French roman towns, Arles. Which is located on the Rhone river between Marseille and Avignon.

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Gaec Hugel has been an acquaintance of mine since the 80’s. He’s a second generation beekeeper who’s family and business is actually located outside Avignon.

IMG_0020 Besides a multiple of different honey they cultivate, lavender in particular, they also sell pollen and Royal jelly which comes from friends in the Alpes. They are particularly noted for their beeswax soaps, which they’ve been marketing since before I met them. They as others have been having difficult times with their bees, no different than commercial beekeepers in the states. Considered a large operation by french standards they try and maintain 550-600 colonies. Like in the states, confronted by a vast array of problems his father never had to deal with, the whole enterprise is in dire hardship. Not because there is no market, but because its become so difficult to produce products.

Another commercial beek friend is Guy Marigot.

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Guy has been a beekeeper for @ 20 years. He tries to maintain around 250 hives between the Arles region and the Cevenne mountains. Besides honey they make jams and different honey based foods. Like Gaec, health issues besides the difficulty in maintaining hive numbers has put his enterprise into question. He doubts he’ll be staying with it much longer.

Arles open market is world renown. Here everything can be found, the sights, sounds, smells and aromas are fantastic.

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IMG_0043Besides getting this next years curriculum put together and all the structure work for WBI, I’ll be visiting with other beekeepers and beekeeping entities. I’ll be meeting with the head of one of two accredited beekeeping schools here in the south of France, and visiting their instructional apiary. Also programed is talking with the IRNA, a beekeeping research unit doing current work on Pesticides and their relationships with bees. The highlight of my stay here will be meeting with John Kefuss, renown for his organic hygienic bees.
These episodes will be uploaded here as they occur.

Hope you and your bees are fairing well

Oregon State Beekeeper Convention

My how time can buzz by.

It was with great pleasure to participate at the Convention. Extremely informative with an impressive list of speakers. Well organized, there was a choice of two seminars being held concurrently (sometimes making it difficult which to chose from).

In addition to the seminars, OSU had a lab exposition open both full days. Here we were able to look through microscopes and seeing Nosema besides Tracheal mites. The OSU group were there to answer (to their ability) any and all questions people had. (if there were answers to everything we wouldn’t need research…)

The OSBA had set-up an all day seminar for the beginning beekeepers. Turning the convention from being more for the advanced or professional, to
an event all levels could enjoy and benefit from.

Particularly noteworthy was David Hackenburg who was also a guest speaker. Although I didn’t meet him personally, I had the pleasure of being at his table during the research luncheon. It was informative listening in while others plied him with questions concerning the fight between Beekeepers, chemical companies and the Federal government. Yes people, there is a war going on. And its not just about the bee’s…

Being focused on WBI’s involvement in teaching, there were two seminars that were extremely interesting. Dewey Caron’s ‘Making it through the second year’, and Morris Ostrofsky’s ‘Reading frames’. I regret not having a recorder, Morris gave the best talk I’ve ever heard or read on beekeeping. He was able to cover so many of the things we as old beekeepers observe and register without even knowing it while working our bees.

Great job to OSBA, OSU and all those involved, with what I believe was a great convention. I’m already looking forward to next years.

(although it would b nice to have it more centrally located…)


August 28

Autumn is in the air.

It will soon be time to work on reducing our hives for winter.

We need to continue our feeding programs specifically making sure that there are good pollen stores.

Those of you not members of SOBA didn’t recieved the info that John Jacobs has extra pollen substitute available while supplies last.

You can contact him at

We need to monitor how our August mite treatments worked, prepared to give them one last go if necessary.

Heavy acorn crop normally means hard winter,

think about how much honey you should leave your hive.

The long winters with cold springs has changed the normal amounts of honey left to the hive.

I suggest a full deep super now instead of a full medium.

The Star Thistle has been producing and currently being harvested,

however most have noticed that its like everything else has been, below normal.

Beginning Beekeeping classes are going to be transferred online.

Next years programs will be announced in a month or two.

I thank you all for your interest in the Bee’s and your participation with WBI.

There will be no further classes this year due to the work necessary to get the website put together,

besides working on the varied fall harvest and canning issues.

I will be happy to continue helping anyone out online.

Hope your bees are doing well,

I will look forward on continuing to serving you.

David Max


Wild Bee Bee Tree

Its a sad fact, beautiful old trees one day come down.

Located at Tou Velle Tavern, I’ve been aware of the bees in this tree since the 90’s.

Due to its age and starting to lean over, it became a risk to the little PG&E power sub panel near it.

We were notified that the tree had been felled and cut up, leaving only the trunk and one branch where the bees were located.

With a 4 ft trunk, it wasn’t an easy job of saving the bees.

We managed to get it loaded up after trimming more weight off of it.

Moved to a temporary home,

we’re getting a spot ready for it here on the farm.

We’re thrilled to have saved the colony,

planning on keeping it in its original  home.

A fitting, living symbol of our beginning with the Bee’s.

Wild Bee Honey Farm originally started with a colony, from a tree like this one.

(but more hollow)

Class review

This last weekend we went through the process of bolstering up some nucs.

Transferring them into a large brood super we then added a frame of brood besides frames of honey and pollen.

After shared my Power Point Presentation,

Beekeeping and Environments.

This presentation is to try and bring the beginning beekeeper into awareness of what a colony of bees is,

its basic requirements for survival,

and the stress factors the bees encounter that can affect their health and well being,

including how to avoid these factors.

Up coming class Aug 25, I’ll let you ask me what you would like to cover.

Give me a buzz

David Max Curtis

Master Beekeeper Program

This last Saturday we had the Mentor/Mentee Instructor  training, part of the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program.

I’d like to thank our gracious host Ron Padgett and his wife for inviting us all out to his home.

They live in a beautiful part of Oregon outside of Cave Junction towards the Oregon Caves.

Their place is a wonderful natural area for beekeeping made even better by years of work they have done planting bee friendly foliage.

Rons hives showed the positive signs of that environment.

It was a pleasure for me to team up with Ron and Andrew Watson as the Mentor instructor crew.

We started the day’s event in Rons apiary.

We separated into three groups, each group having several hives to work through.

We went through the basics and importance of observation and preparation before intruding into the hive.

The steps to be wrote down in your note-book.

Accepted practices of entering into and handling the hive and the different supers and brood boxes besides their frames.

We monitored the levels of Honey/Pollen/Brood.

Their general health, followed by sugar rolls to monitor the different hives mite load,

which did vary.

The temperature was perfect and the bees were very docile,

everyone had a wonderful hive experience without stings or unhappy bees.

After the morning session we broke for lunch,

continuing to discuss the aspects of Rons different hives.

The afternoon session was spent on the shaded lawn.

I started with the first presentation on Beekeeping and Environments.

Starting with the bee cluster as a living organism,

and all the different Environmental/Physical aspects bees have to deal with.

How all these different aspects have or can create health consequences.

How stress can affect them and ways we can avoid subjecting them to it.

My presentation was followed by Andrew (doc) Watson,

he presented us with in-depth information pertaining to Mites and Hive Wealth.

An important and interesting analysis of Royal Jelly and just how important it is to the whole hive.

He explained how August is the most important month of the hopeful winter survival of a colony and the requirements for success.

Ron Padget presented to us how he prepares for the winter.

The way he treats for mites, and different products and equipment utilized.

Hive rejuvenation and bolstering was discussed, besides the successes he has achieved through the years of his beekeeping experience.

Again, for myself and I’m sure for the others, it was a wonderful and informative day in Oregon,

Buzzing with the Bee’s.

This weekends Saturday event on the farm will be the same presentation I gave.

Beekeeping and Environments.

This is an overview of the many things that affect our bees as a whole,

and the Hive Cluster as a specific.

A great refresher for the novice,

important information for the beginner.

For those wanting to enter into the hives,

school starts at 9:30-$20 suits required. Three person requirement, please let me know if you’re interested.

The (no suit required) Power Point Presentation will start at 10:30-$10:00

with the observation hive.

B Friendly

B Informed

B There

David Max

Master Beekeeper Program

This last  Saturday was the OSU Master Beekeeper Program gathering.

I participated with the other Mentors from all over the state.

Also present were the Peers of Oregon’s Beekeeping Alumni,

OSU, and OSBA.

We discussed how the program is currently functioning and how to improve on  it.

We also went through four training stations,

1. Honey- labeling and packaging, qualities

2. Mites- presentations on mite treatments

3. Disease- We inspected a frame of American Foul Brood, and European Foul Brood.

4. Stings- Discussion on safety and Epi Pens.

These training stations all being part of the up coming Journeyman level of the program.

We Mentors had received the first proto-type of the open book written  Journey level exam.

The questions and answers were gone through.

Although not the official version, it will still require personal investigation and research to find the answers.

Happy to say I passed, but not a perfect score…

OSU has a wonderful apiary,

with all the various hive body and styles.

Part of our training was the up coming hive inspection test.

A 100 point test where the Journey level hopeful is required to address all the aspects concerning working a hive.

Not official yet, but talking about 80-90 being the passing requirement…

As to the local affairs.

We are no different than the rest of the state,

Honey production is almost non existent.

Feeding is the norm, and although statistically the mite loads are low,

soft treatments are being encouraged.

Pollen collection is low also,

feeding pollen substitutes is also suggested.

Fat bees are healthy bees,

skinny bees are more susceptible to many different problems.

Again there is no class this Saturday due to the Master Beekeeper Mentee gathering in Cave Junction.

All those interested in the program can find the link in B Links above.

Our next B class program will have a Power Point, non suit presentation.

Beekeeping and Environments.

All beginners are especially encouraged to come,

however even the novices will learn important refreshing info.

More info in next weeks blog.

B friendly

B connected

B informed

David Max



August 1

Hello Everyone

There are no classes Aug 4 and 11th,

both weekends being occupied by the OSU Master Beekeeper Program.

Classes will resume Aug. 18. Program will be announced later.


A few beekeepers are finally harvesting some honey.

Primarily Blackberry.

All in all though we are way behind in production.

Star Thistle is in beginning bloom but no real flow has yet to be seen.

Due to the fact most of our class people have comb foundation still to be drawn,

feeding is the norm.

To give you an idea of the energy required to draw the comb out on one frame,

it takes 8-12lbs of feed! That’s a full deep honey frame packed completely with honey!

Its a rule of thumb when building your hive the first year,

you will not have honey to harvest. Again, due to the huge energy necessary for the bees to build all the new foundation with bees wax.

Focus on keeping them healthy, so that you can enjoy a harvest  next year.

Now that we are experiencing summer,

we need to B ware of a few more things.

You’ve already been notified of the necessity to continue feeding sugar and Pollen substitutes.

This last week two different class members broke my rules concerning working the bees,

the bees quickly taught them to remember my instruction…

Do not work your bees at/over 85 degrees.

A large part of the field force will stay home to fan the hive.

Like you, they are hot and uncomfortable looking for an excuse to take it out on someone…

This means you are stressing your hive also, and there can be health consequences from doing that.

Do your work in the morning to have a harmonious time with them,

unless its just to add dry feed in the telescopic feeder/lid.

Water can be an issue now.

Bees do require relatively clean water.

Hives had to be moved out of one of our Ashland apiaries due to suspected contaminated irrigation water.

It was the bees only water source. Chemicals or bacteria can affect the bees greatly this time of the year.

Monitor your hives, if there is a problem it will show as an excessive amount of dead bees below the front of the hive.

All through the year there can be critters to deal with concerning the hive.

We are now entering the season for  the yellow Jackets.

This is also the time for robbing, other bees from other hives marauding(stealing).

Reduce your hive entrances, allowing the guardians a chance to fight back.

This is going to make it difficult for the bees to cool the hive.

If your hive isn’t in afternoon shade,

consider buying a beach umbrella, or erecting something to shade the hive in the hot afternoon.

If your not producing honey or using soft mite treatments,

now is the time to be treating for mites.

Hope your all buzzing happily with your bees!!

B friendly

B aware

B involved

David Max

Class July 28

Hello everyone

This next Saturday’s class will include the following.

Follow up on our problem nuc. Inspect if a new queen was raised by the bees.

Sugar rolls. Creating pollen patties.

Participation in the Honey House, extracting honey. Yes, we finally have some honey to extract! Lowest yield yet but managed to harvest some Blackberry, some others in the valley as well.

Because there are a large number of bee’s inside the honey house,Bee suits may be  mandatory, and its hot…

REVIEW of last weeks class

Inspection of our troubled nuc from the first nuc class showed that a queen had been raised. Again it was expected to become a Drone Layer due to the fact no egg or brood had been found while its partner was strong and healthy allowing it to be transferred to its first full size brood box. The troubled nuc did have a queen but  poorly mated, and the bee’s had created a super-cedure cell. This cell appeared close to hatching.

We experienced one more hive failure, with a second in decline also. No real sign of mites. Both hives showed signs of queen failure. The second hive was aided with more capped brood that included fresh egg in the hopes of stimulating the bees to produce a new queen cell. The other nuc was removed after shaking what bees were left out of the boxes. These bees would ultimately find a new home with the other hives.

Next was the inspection of the three nucs pulled in our second nuc class. Two were in a double nuc box, the third in its own single box.

One nuc was a failure.

The other has a strong queen and has the box layed up with brood. It was transferred to a larger nuc box and moved to another apiary to be again transferred to a full size brood box.

The third nuc was a full scale Drone Layer. Another failure, however it was an excellent learning experience for our students there that day. The bees were shaken out, and the frames added to another hives supers.

Over view

In all we pulled 5 nucs.

2 are confirmed healthy and currently strong.

2 failed, one from either the queen not returning or not mating, the cause for the other completely empty nuc may have been from two possible causes.

  1. Bees failed/unable to make an emergency cell, and absconded.
  2. The separation between the nucs was insufficient and the stronger neighbor managed to attack and raid the other.

1 nuc yet to be decided.

The two failed/failing full size instructional hives hadn’t been monitored in 5 weeks. Beekeeper failure…


While tending the store one day a Beekeeper from Montana stopped by. His family operates 11,000 hives. Their woes correspond with another beekeeping family my brother ran into in Idaho on his way back from delivering hives to Wyoming. We actually know this family who operate 7-8000 colonies. Massive queen problems in the spring trying to do their build up. Actually every commercial beekeeper we know, or have come in contact with, has had the same problem. Bad queens, no honey production up to date, and feeding being a requirement. Currently the drought everywhere has left only irrigated ground as a source for both nectar and pollen. Dismally, these irrigated crops are being mowed down by major grasshopper invasions in many areas. Again, no honey or pollen. The last hope for most of the US to produce a major amount of honey lies in the Dakotas. No current word yet whats going on there.

Locally, the Star thistle and Knap weed are blooming, still waiting to see or hear about the ‘flow’. Most of the wooded hills are primarily in Dearth, unless its an area with Star Thistle. Creeks, rivers besides irrigated ground are still producing some nectar however I’ve witnessed a major lacking in pollen. The bees are collecting it, but in insufficient quantities. FEED POLLEN!!

B friendly

B aware

B prepared

Please let us know if your coming, thanks


Wild Bee

Saturday Bee class July 21

Hello everyone
due to computer error,
the weekly notice didnt get out.
As such we are doing the same class,
with emphasis on IPM and nutritionals.
Visiting some peoples hives I’ve observed (as expected)
a general lack of hive monitoring.
Again, we are in mite season.
Many locations around the valley are in DEARTH.
Meaning there is a lack of forage for the bees.
We are entering the critical period for the bees to prepare for winter.
Pollen is the major requirement, honey second on the list.
Check your hives stores.
There should be AMPLE honey and pollen stores.
If there is not,
you need to feed both sugar and pollen substitutes.
B friendly,
B aware
Hope to see you at the class
give us a buzz to let us know you’re coming.
Dave Curtis
Wild Beekeeping
PS. we’ve gotten the website up but still in development