Supporting our Pollinators in a Laissez-Faire Hive

Apr 28, 2021 | Bill's Musings, Our Commitment to Sustainability, Vintage Journal

There are so many stories to tell right now.  May is Oregon Wine Month, so we are especially attuned to sharing the unique characteristics of the Oregon terroir, and especially of the specific vineyards farmed by Winderlea and our grower friends.  Bud break was mid-April and that is always a time when we are tying our past practices and stories to the vintage in the making.  But this time I think I’ll talk about bees.  As previous readers may remember, we have a colony of bees at Winderlea.  It is the most laissez-faire hive ever.  We almost never touch it and really think of it as our way to give pollinators a chance to have a healthy and uninterrupted life.  From time to time, the colony gets big enough that it looks for a new home and this was one of those years.  Donna and I went out to the hive after it had been warm and sunny for several days and, nothing.  Not even the beginning stirrings of the bees in Spring.  This time I removed the cover from the top box and took a few combs of honey; not much, just a few pints.  It is dark and has a very distinctive taste.  Donna swears she can detect a hint of smoke from last year’s fires.  It’s definitely a flavor that holds its own.  A short time later, a new colony showed up and made the hive their home, so we have bees again.  Now I’m thinking about adding a horizontal Layens box at Winderlea. The story continues.- Bill Sweat, Winegrower