We keep the bees. Not just as “beekeepers” but we keep them rather than selling them. Together with our sister company, Wagon Wheel Ranch of Arizona. (producer of top-quality honey, beeswax, pollen and other products from the beehive) we watch over the bees and ensure their survival. Yes, we’ve suffered attack by bears, by thieves, by vandals. But like any other rancher or farmer, we keep innovating in order to keep the stock healthy and producing. Unlike most beekeepers, when we harvest honey from the bees, we take only a minimum amount so that they aren’t stressed for food during the winter season. Probably the most common contaminant in USA-produced honey is high fructose corn syrup (“HFCS”). Not that beekeepers add syrup into the honey they harvest, rather they feed it to the bees during the off-season. Bees don’t differentiate between HFCS and honey. When fed HFCS, they simply stow it away in the cells, as if it is “honey on the Understanding Honey Bees. Separating Fact from Fiction.” Once HFCS has been introduced into a beehive, there is no practical way to separate it from honey. We never feed HFCS to our beehives. Yes, it increases the cost of every ounce of honey produced, but the honey sold by Wagon Wheel Ranch is as pure as it gets. We call it Pristine Honey because it is truly all-natural, unadulterated, unmodified, undiluted. Just true honey.
When beehives are brought in to American Bee Control headquarters facility, they are carefully logged regarding all information observed in the course or the relocation work. Typically, we have obtained pictures not only of the layout of the hive but also close-ups of the eggs, larvae, pupae and newly emerged adults. We can determine many factors from the pictures and on-site observations. Factors like the nutritional adequacy of the forage available to the hive and the fertility of the queen are important to understanding what the colony’s potential is. We are most attuned to the hive’s behavior, not just regarding their temperament (how they treat the beekeepers) but also their tendencies toward management of their own infrastructure. A beehive that has a natural tendency to build honeycombs in haphazard fashion is unlikely to be prized by beekeepers (because it is difficult to inspect and assess if the combs are cross-connected with “burr comb.”) Similarly, a colony that likes to maintain a huge population throughout the winter is not nearly as prized as one that carefully manages its population and its consumption of food stores. We evaluate colonies on a 17-item performance scale so we can derive the highest-performing, most robust and productive strain of bees. What is the worst thing we ever do to a colony? We replace their queen with one from a genetic line that we ARE eager to propagate. (We are always looking for additional places to interpose the queens which are best calculated to ensure high performance beekeeping for the future of America’s farmers and beekeepers.)
Wagon Wheel Ranch of Arizona is wholly owned by the same parent entity (Pantano Capital, LLC, an Arizona Limited Liability Company) as American Bee Control. Wagon Wheel Ranch leases thousands of acres of Arizona State Trust Lands administered by the Arizona State Land Department (quite the same kind of lease as cattle ranchers have with governmental land owners.) We also negotiate “beekeeping easements” with owners of private land throughout Southern Arizona. We need this the extensive real estate assets in order to keep the apiaries (bee yards) small and widely separated from each other.
Does Wagon Wheel Ranch sell bees? Yes. That’s the best part of the story. But the bees sold by Wagon Wheel Ranch are several-generation-removed descendants of bees removed from American Bee Control customer locations. The highest and best use of American Bee Control’s exertions isn’t just the relocating of unwanted beehives. The most worthy results of our endeavors is the harvesting of the genetic material that these “survivor bees” contain. The combined selective breeding program of American Bee Control and Wagon Wheel Ranch is probably the largest and most-intricate of any such endeavor in the history of mankind.
And for those who inquire about purchasing bees from Wagon Wheel Ranch: We ask them to fill out an online form that contains 19 questions. (The first item on the list is a yes/no option: “I don’t want to answer any more questions, I just want to purchase bees.” Many who inquire regarding purchasing bees are grateful for the list of considerations contained in the questionnaire. Becoming a beekeeper is not something to enter into haphazardly. So the online questionnaire is helpful for those who are truly ready to nurture beehives as well as those who still need to prepare.
It should be pointed out that the total number of beekeepers in the United States that are hobbyists greatly outnumber the professional beekeepers. But about 90% of all beehives are owned by commercial, professional beekeepers. If case it isn’t apparent, there is a broad gulf between the management styles of these different types of beekeeper. The major difference seems to be in the question: “What can I do for you, bees?” posed by the hobbyist, versus “What will you do for me now, bees?” asked by the commercial operator. This is evidenced by the disparate trade organizations: American Beekeeping Federation, is focused on the needs and interests of the hobby beekeeper while the large firms tend to be better served by the American Honey Producers Association. Wagon Wheel Ranch–our sister company–is a member in good standing of both beekeeping associations. American Bee Control is also a member of the Wildlife Control Operators Association, the Arizona Small Business Association and the Better Business Bureau of Tucson and Southern Arizona (where we have always had only and A-plus rating.)
Please know that in most situations where we arrive at a customer location to relocate there bees, it is an interesting balance between the four competing concerns: What’s best for the bees; what’s best for the property owner’s real estate; what has the least out-of-pocket expense to the owner; and what may allow American Bee Control to avoid losing money in providing the service. Please also know that we pride ourselves on giving excellent value for any dollar we receive. We feel that our survival as a business is a testimonial to our ethic of striving to ensure that each and every customer interaction will be pleasant and cost-effective. At the same time, we note that, regarding interactions with honey bees: It must be assumed that every interaction between bees and humans is traumatic for the bees. Through our in-house development of world-class technologies and bee-friendly processes, we greatly minimize the stress the bees experience, not only for their sake, but also for your emotional experience and ours. We are comfortable knowing that, each day when we go to work, we are “doing well because we are doing good.”