Friday, November 30, 2012

Where to put hives?

I do live in an apartment complex. There is no way to keep hives where I live. (To be honest, I thought keeping them in my balcony, but the balcony is right next to the stairways just in front of everybody's eyes :( Of course, I am not serious; it is illegal as stated in my lease contract.)

Then, I come up with this crazy idea: To keep them at work :) How convenient would it be?

I work at VMware Inc. and VMware is expanding its campus at Palo Alto acquiring a 1-million-square-foot property adjacent to the VMware headquarters

VMware supports green eco-friendly programs. We are proud that "Being green is a big part of VMware culture." What is more green than providing home for honey bees that are in danger? They are the single most important animal regulating the nature by pollination.

There is a turtle pond located in the heart of our main campus. There are handful of turtles, and during the summer, sun bathing is their favorite. And time to time I see two wild ducks accompanying them. What a relaxing break to eat lunch watching them!

Here are two pictures that I took in April 2012:

I remember once seeing a guy feeding them. I thought he would be the first contact person to mention this crazy idea. He is Jeff Goodall. Here, you can watch him putting turtles back home to their pond after winter hibernation in March 2009.

He got surprised to hear my idea, but did not dismiss it immediately. He shared his concerns, legal restrictions, allergies, and so on...

Here, I prepared a presentation addressing these concerns:

Then, I talked to LM, Director at Workspace division. She got impressed and encouraged me to write a business proposal for HR approval. Even, together with Jeff, we walked around the campus looking for a location.

Recently, I got the sad news from Jeff. He talked to some HR person and the answer is a clear NO due to safety, health and liability concerns.
I knew it was a long shot, indeed very long :) But, I just wanted try my chance and to see how far we can go. Without asking, we cannot be sure. By the way, I would like to thank Jeff and LindaMarie for their consideration, help and time. We did our collective best!  :)

Where can I put hives full of bees? Who wants them in their backyard? 

Looks like this is going to be the biggest challenge and I need to keep looking!..

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Find a mentor

I took an introductory beekeeping class from Professional Beekeeper Richard Baxter, sometime ago. And recently, I stopped by to ask him whether he would be a mentor for me. Good news, he accepted to help me graciously.

Here are the reasons for me to ask his help:

  • He is a Professional Beekeeper and the president of the Beekeepers Guild of San Mateo County.
  • He practices chemical-free natural beekeeping. This is what I would like to educate myself.
  • He is a really friendly guy and he loves to share his knowledge and passion.
  • He lives in San Mateo, which is pretty close to me, Mountain View and Palo Alto.

Few interesting comments about him:

Thanks, Richard. I will bug you a lot, soon...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Execution Plan; Action items for a beginner beekeeper

Here is the execution plan for myself as a beginner beekeeper:
  1. Idea: Beekeeping as a hobby.
  2. Execution Plan: Action items for a beginner beekeeper.
  3. Research & Education. (In progress.)
    1. Internet resources. (In progress. I will post another blog entry, soon, compiling all the resources I found.)
      1. Websites.
      2. Blogs.
      3. Forums: and
    2. Books: Books to readBooks to start with.
    3. Classes: First Step: Introductory Beekeeping Class.
    4. Local Beekeepers Clubs
      1. Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild
      2. Beekeepers' Guild Of San Mateo County
    5. Mentor: Richard Baxter, my mentor.
  4. Action Items.
    1. Find a location, for my hives. Check legal restrictions and immediate neighbors.
    2. Find insurance.
    3. Buy the equipments: hives, hive tool, smoker, bee jacket, veil, and gloves.
    4. Order bees around January to be delivered in April or catch a swarm.
    5. Practice...
  5. Goals.
    1. Primary: Practice chemical-free beekeeping and have my bees survive a winter.
    2. Secondary: Eat my own naturally-produced comb honey at a Saturday breakfast.

Joke: Ask a question

Say you are a beginner beekeeper and if you ask a question to a group of 5 master beekeepers, you will first hear "This is a simple question with an elementary answer", and then you will get at least 7 different answers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Books to read

I did a lot of research and read book-reviews to decide which books to start with.

In general, I am interested in natural, organic and chemical-free beekeeping. Not sure though, but top bar hives would be great for producing all natural comb honey. Instead of starting very specific, I decided to learn general concepts and start with the common modern -Langstroth- hives.

Here is the first batch of my book order:


I have already finished Dadant's First Lessons in Beekeeping book, and I will write a detailed review later.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Books to start with: Beekeeping in California

Searching the internet, I have found free books published by University of California. These are the first books I have read on beekeeping. They provide basics and specifics to beekeeping in California.

Fundamentals of California Beekeeping is the earlier version published in 1971. Beekeeping in California is the newer version published in 1987.

It starts with the value and importance of the industry. Then it explains the colony, the life cycle of bees, constructing hives, managing and feeding bees. There are sections about bee diseases and disorders. It covers many other topics as well. It is a complete package in a nutshell.

Dr Eric C Mussen is the editor and reviser of the newer version. Dr. Mussen is a well-respected apiculturist from University of California, Davis. We will talk about him and Department of Entomology, UC Davis more later, as they are leaders in this area.

Copyright Notice: These publications are copyrighted by the Regents of the University of California. Download from Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild - Books.

Friday, November 16, 2012

First Step: Introductory Beekeeping Class

Take a beekeeping class.

Sometime ago, I came across a Groupon Deal:
   Round Rock Honey – Redwood City
   Introductory Beekeeping Class

"During the beekeeping class, master beekeepers steep neophytes in the nectar-harvesting basics, including an introduction to bees and information on hive handling... Students ... will learn how to keep bees through changing seasons and safeguard their swarms from disease and parasites. Finally, participants get to don full beekeeper's garb (suits are provided) and gain hands-on experience..."

I did not think too much before I made the purchase. This is the chance for me to get familier with these bugs.

The class was taught by Professional Beekeeper Richard Baxter, Golden Harvest Beekeeping. He collects 100 percent natural local-wildflower honey from his hives in San Mateo County, CA. His wife Janet Baxter, BeezSoap, produces natural handcrafted soaps, candles, lip balms and lotions made with beeswax and - as she says - love.

Just before my Groupon Coupon expired, I made the reservation, and attended the class on a sunny Saturday, Oct 6th.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BeesInCA kick off


I was checking my 401K account when I started to think what I might be doing when I retire. Yes, I am many many years away from retirement. But, hey, time flies. In case I reach to those days, I need some hobby to occupy myself mentally and physically.

Beekeeping is one of those options that I come up with. It requires to learn a lot. It is a science as well as an art. Perfect hobby!

That's how it started...


  1. Primary: Practice chemical-free beekeeping and have my bees survive a winter.
  2. Secondary: Eat my own naturally-produced comb honey at a Saturday breakfast.