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Alfalfa Fields

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Alfalfa Flower

Alfalfa Flowers

Palmdale - Lancaster, California

Klaus buckling up the Swiss milking seat The Swiss milking seat Trying out the Swiss milking seat Sheep grazing Sheep Pollen sack
Loose pollen Bee pollen frenzy Alfalfa preppinig A sheep that was Returning home - Tehachapi Windmills Days end - Tehachapi Windmills

The farmers feed cattle the alfalfa throughout the year as it is high in protein, before it goes to flower/seed- $16 a bale (whatever the market bares).

The first three crops are cut before flowering - the next two are allowed to flower thus going to seed for 'rebirth' of new seasons to come. The alfalfa is a pretty purple flower with a rich green leaf and stem. The fields fill the air with a pungent perfume especially after the water wheels have passed through. Large black ravens peck at the freshly cut rows while smaller birds sit atop the sprinklers waiting for tiny insects to emerge.

We have several sites in the Palmdale/Lancaster area. We move the bees to the alfalfa fields around the first or second week in June after the cuttings have been made so that the bees will have a chance to 'build' up through the summer honey flow for harvest last August; if we are lucky we might get two 'harvests'.

When the flower blooms have ended and the winds begin to pick up, often fiercely, we then move all the bees to 'winter' in the avocado groves in Carpenteria where they will begin the 'build- up' for pollination, come February/March - almond groves in Shafter.

Alfalfa flower 2 Alfalfa fields Alfalfa fields cut Alfalfa flower Before supers
VanDam Dairy Water wheel Desert reclaims Alfalfa bales Before supers

This was one of the first sites in the alfalfa fields and one which usually yields nicely. Conditions of wind are shielded by tuffs of bramble - alfalfa fields and other crops grow openly on the desert floor. The hives all have supers (the smaller boxes for gathering honey), some 2 and 3 high with a yield of 80pounds per super, ideally. These pictures were taken July 20, 2008 one month/give-take since the hives were moved to the fields.

Alfalfa flowers Road in On approach Super high
Hives close-up Carrot fields going to seed Carrot fields going to seed 2

This is our first year at this particular site - surrounded by alfalfa fields, once productive sun flower fields and farms of sheep, a forest of Joshuas, this site lies in an open area. It has a very calming and serene ambience - fields abound in the middle of this desert area. Switchblade grass grows alternately in the fields - a quick grower switch grass offers a fast economical alternative to the ethanol issue. Corn now has hit record prices causing many fuel factories to close down, as there is no longer a profit to be made - no gain for output.

Road in Tall grasses Where once was fields Once were sunflower fields Waterwheels ready
Waterwheels working Alfalfa flowers 2 Hives Wadded supers Inhabitants
Switchblade Joshua forest Day's end

A clear open area surrounded by lush alfalfa fields. The bees fly homeward with the aid of a 'hind' wind - especially good when returning heavy with pollen and nectar. One must take care as to not 'stray' off the beaten road as the sand piles up and serves as a 'catch' - our truck ended up buried up to the wheels, the entire undercarriage engulfed - I opened the F350 door and found the sand at the sill - but then, a nice day was spent 'at the beach' while waiting for the tow truck. The desert calm is very misleading.

Approach Raw 1 Raw 2 Raw 3

This area is located in a flat open stretch - not much shrubbery to aid in cutting down the winds that blow across the desert. The fields surrounding are plentiful - long stretches of bloom. It has always yielded a nice crop of honey.

Setup 1 Setup 2 Setup 3 Setup 4 Across the flatbed
Hives 3 Hives 2 Hives Klaus the mechanic Klaus the mechanic 2 Across the street

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