CO-Horts Blog

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Beekeepers Head to California


By CSU Linda Langelo, Horticulture Agent

           Hives being dropped for placement/Photo credit: Jessica Filla

It is time for the almond orchards to start coming in bloom by February and March. Beekeepers from all over descend upon California whose second largest crop is almonds and/or sometimes milk. Why? Almonds are nutritious for honey bees. The pollen provides 10 of the amino acids needed in their diets.
A local commercial beekeeper, from Akron, Colorado called Filla Honey travels each year to Chowchilla, California in South Central Valley. They arrive starting in November to set-up and place the hives and then leave. They make multiple trips until the end of March.  These trips are for feeding and maintenance.  Why so early when almond trees start blooming in February? Bees much like plants need to be acclimated to their new environment.

Their hives are also subjected to California Department of Food and Agriculture quarantine regulations to prevent entry of colonies contaminated with varroa or tracheal mites harmful to the bees. Their hives could be turned away at great cost to their business.
During the process they are met with challenges such as the 4 inches of rain which happened this past week. The soil in some places is a rich clay, and in that much rain things get very sticky. In other parts of the orchards, it is very sandy. 
Photo credit: Jessica Filla
The beekeepers strategically place the hives based on the age of the trees. Then wait for them to produce their flowers. The Almond Board in California has encouraged almond farmers to plant pollinator habitat in or adjacent to their orchards for additional food.
How many hives does Filla Honey bring? They bring 900 hives. They are part of a family co-op which adds several hundred hives to that number.  The final total will end up being 4,000 hives that they need to feed and maintain until the flowers start blooming.
                       Filla Honey Semi Truck/Photo credit: Jessica Filla
The average cost for the recommended 2 colonies (2 hives) per acre is $400 to lease hives for the almond orchard farmer.  This is for two months of pollination where the bees will use both nectar and pollen from the blossoms.  If the season turns out to be cold and wet, the bees will spend less time outside the hive.  That's bad for business and not just for beekeepers. Why? According to ABC in their data collection of the almond orchards, California produces 80% of the world's almond production.

                    Photo credit: Almond Board of California/ABC

Each semi holds approximately 480 hives.  So just for their initial hives of 900 that makes two semi trucks to California. Each semi has a net over the hives to capture any adventurous bees attempting an escape. 

                       Hives waiting to be placed./Photo credit: Jessica Filla
When Filla honey collects all the honey from their hives it will be a darker honey.  The almond honey can be confused with buckwheat honey since they are both a darker honey.  But very different tastes. Try both honey sometime, if you haven't. You may become hooked.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Teach a Child to Garden

                           By CSU Horticulture Agent, Linda Langelo

            Photo credit: Linda Langelo, Sherry Brandt with Kylie & Carlie

If for some reason you were not able to teach your child how to start gardening, then maybe in 2021 growing season you can.  Here are some very simple ways to engage your child:


  • Ask if they are interested in learning about gardening.
  • Share with them every step in the process.
  • Start at the beginning of looking through catalogues and selecting seeds.
  • Show them how to grow squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe in a container.
  • Provide a calendar that is separate for gardening tasks.
  • Mark dates on the calendar for starting certain seeds, frost free dates and so on.

Above all, give them responsibility. Naturally, the responsibility you assign each child will differ with their age. Responsibility to do certain small tasks you know they can handle such as watering the newly planted squash seeds and marking the calendar when they have watered them.  That way everyone knows. 

Make clear and simple explanations for why you are doing certain tasks when you are doing them. Children are inquisitive and imaginative.  Encourage these qualities by helping them explore.  What happens when you do not plant the onion bulb in deep enough or with the basil end facing the soil surface. Let them plant one onion bulb incorrectly and use a stake to mark it. Watching and wondering what will happen is half the fun.  When the onion sprouts along with the others is when you explain geotropism to them.

Giving them the opportunity to explore and encourage their curiosity which can engage them further with gardening. By doing these things you are giving your children a hand in every aspect of the family garden.  When I was only eight years old, my grandmother told me about the importance of working in fertilizer and sometimes coffee grounds around her roses.  She showed me how and then gave me the responsibility to get it done.  Your child may not grow up to have a career in horticulture like I have had, but they may have gardening as a hobby for the rest of their life.  When times get tough, they know how to grow their own food.

For more information to help assist you in this endeavor, here is a link to a CSU article by a CSU Master Garden in Larimer titled “Growing Food and Growing Gardeners” :

At the bottom of the article posted above are CSU Fact Sheets to help you with growing vegetables.  In 2021 growing season, Grow and Give will continue.  Consider taking part if you did not in 2020. For more information go to the following link:

Also, get in contact with your local Extension Office or Master Gardeners in your area.

 If you need more assistance with gardening activities here is a short list of links for different age levels: