Recycled Water and Bees

July  24, 2013

Napa Sanitation District’s Jameson Ranch, located off of North Kelly Road, is used by NSD to beneficially reuse recycled water and biosolids. Under a contract with NSD, local farmers utilize land at Jameson Ranch to grow livestock feed which thrives from the application of these nutrient rich bi-products of wastewater treatment. The flowering plants are also great fodder for the ranch’s long-time residents: hives of bees from Sola Bee Farms.

“Beehives are compatible with the District’s land use at Jameson Ranch because they require very little land and don’t interfere with the irrigation, fertilization or harvesting practices,” points out David Martin, the District’s recycled water manager. Sola Bee Farms has been placing hives in Jameson Canyon for over 20 years, and recently began placing anywhere from 100 to 200 hives on Jameson Ranch.

Much like traditional livestock, honeybees need “pastures” to find forage for sources of nutrition and water. Although bee hives can make a living throughout diverse terrains, such as downtown parks and residential neighborhoods, the hives benefit from the large swaths of open land that Jameson Ranch offers. When conditions are optimal, a hive can produce 20 – 30 pounds of honey annually.

The infamous Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has ravaged honeybee colonies nationwide since 2005. While the cause of this deadly and widespread phenomenon is still under investigation, beekeepers like Sola Bee Farms’ Trevor Tauzer must work tirelessly to find healthy environments for their honeybees.

One of the ways Sola Bee Farms has survived CCD is with the help of land managers, property owners, and organizations that are willing to allow bee hives to be placed on their land. Access to these areas allows the hives to find new forage and be isolated from other beehives where they might contract CCD. Good nutrition from healthy forage helps support a strong immune system, protecting bees from CCD and keeping the bee hives healthy year around.

“By teaming up with Napa Sanitation District, Sola Bee Farms’ honeybees and their beekeepers are able to find healthy forage on land that is already dedicated to serving the local community and the environment,” says beekeeper Tauzer. “Beekeepers have to be creative to find agencies like the District that can provide habitat for honeybees and foster the health of these important pollinators.”

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