As June arrives and the beekeeping season reaches its peak, we begin to think about our annual county beekeeping inspection, which is right around the corner. Above is a photo that we took from last year’s inspection.
Our county beekeeping inspectors arrive in mid-summer in full force; armed with the latest beekeeping technology, multi-layered beekeeping suits, range-finding binoculars, foulbrood inspection kits, and carrying checklists that seem to be miles long. They ask questions such as, “Where is the water source in this apiary? How many colonies do you have here? How close is the nearest residence? What fire prevention steps are you taking, etc.? These questions can go on and on, lasting the better part of a morning.
Of course, the inspectors have to live up to their title, and also inspect actual bee colonies for evidence of foul brood, varroa mites, viruses, diseases, colony temperament, and so on. At Wildflower Meadows, we have few concerns with third-party colony inspections, since as queen breeders, we regularly do the same inspections, and are hyper-vigilant in guarding against diseases. It is our job to regularly monitor the health and temperament of our own colonies, and we take this responsibility seriously.
Sometimes, however, the thoroughness and breadth of the inspectors’ checklists catches us off guard. We were written up last year for not sufficiently trimming the weeds in an access road leading up to one of our apiaries. We wrote about weed trimming last year, when we mentioned how beekeepers are sometimes hesitant to remove pollen sources from around the bees. We are no different: flowering weeds are precious pollen sources, and like many beekeepers, it breaks our heart to be forced to remove them! The inspectors, however, in their quest for fire prevention (which obviously is very important in California) had no patience for our arguments. We are now required to get more serious about our weed trimming responsibilities, oftentimes trimming in places that we never even thought about before . . .
Who knows what the inspectors will come up with this year? Nevertheless, we are feeling confident. Our colonies are looking great, our water sources are full, and our apiaries are weed-free. And, at least for now, we are ready for the next round of inspections!