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Part of Northern California Beekeeping History

Olivarez Honey Bees (OHB) is a family-owned business with three generations of beekeeping expertise. We've raised bees in Northern California for more than 50 years.

Ray grew up in this beekeeping family, building boxes, wiring frames, building package bee cages, and filling feed cans as a kid. After high school, he set off for college. But when a devastating flood decimated his family’s apiary business in the spring of 1983, he came back home to help rebuild. In 1985, he started Olivarez Honey Bees with one truck and the mentorship of his Dad and an old-time beekeeper named Jack Shaw.

Today, OHB keeps more than 16,000 colonies in Northern California and on Hawaii's Big Island, raising top-quality Italian, Carniolan, and Saskatraz queens and package bees for commercial and backyard beekeepers across North America. These carefully chosen locations allow OHB to provide its bees with the purest environments and the best food sources, and to offer customers premium-quality queens and bees year-round. Early on, OHB worked with renowned apiary expert Marla Spivak and the Tech Transfer Team (now called Bee Informed Partnership) to infuse their stock with the most desirable behavior traits to keep hives healthy and strong.

And to ensure that their bees stay happy and healthy from the hives to their customers, the bees are transported to trusted distribution partners in special, climate-controlled trailers. Formerly refrigerated trucks, they've been re-engineered to keep the bees at a comfortable temperature, with just the right airflow, no matter the distance or the season. And each is driven by a person trained to handle bees.

Like all living creatures, bees need expert care to thrive. OHB is dedicated to giving them everything they need to be strong and healthy, because we know the bees — and customers — count on us.

At OHB, it's all about the bees.


Fact Sheet

Facilities

Olivarez Honey Bees (OHB) raises queens and package bees in the heart of Northern California, where the low humidity and warm, gravelly soil offer ideal beekeeping conditions. Every year, our bees pollinate the local almond groves in the early spring before they spend the summer in Montana among acres of blooming sweet clover and alfalfa to build them up for overwintering.

OHB also has a location on the west coast of Hawaii's Big Island, where constant 75- to 85-degree temperatures and an abundance of fruit trees and other flowering plants allow them to produce strong, high-quality queens year-round.

Queens

OHB raises Italian and Carniolan queens year-round at facilities in Northern California and Hawaii. OHB is the first commercial source for Saskatraz queens, a new, disease-resistant variety developed in Canada by Albert Robertson, CEO, Meadow Ridge Farms.

OHB combines centuries of beekeeping wisdom and tradition with cutting-edge apiary science to raise healthy, top-quality queens, both for its own honey production and pollination services as well as for commercial and backyard beekeepers across North America.

Package Bees

OHB raises premium-quality package bees and distributes them to partners across the US and Canada in trucks specially equipped to keep the bees cool and happy. Maintaining more than 16,000 colonies, OHB breeds its bees to be robust and healthy, as well as excellent pollinators and phenomenal honey producers.

Honey

Because OHB maintains hives in the fertile heart of Northern California, the verdant slopes of Hawaii, and surrounded by a sea of yellow sweet clover in Montana, its bees make some of the best honey you'll ever taste. You can purchase OHB honey through The Chico Honey Company, founded by Josh, Ryan, and Haley Olivarez.

Pollination

Each year in early spring, OHB transports its bees to local almond orchards where they help to pollinate this important Northern California crop. Their time in the almond groves also provides a nutrient-rich diet to build the bees up for the package bee and queen season ahead.

Leading the Way

Bees are vital to a thriving environment, and as a leader in the beekeeping industry, OHB is proud to be replenishing hives across North America with strong, healthy, disease-resistant queens and bees.

As a founding Member of the Bee Informed Partnership (formally the Tech Transfer Team), OHB has worked with renowned apiary researcher Marla Spivak to identify and maintain desirable traits in their stock. The annual OHB Hobby Day lets them share three generations of beekeeping knowledge and cutting-edge best practices with backyard beekeepers, to help keep their colonies happy, healthy, and productive.

Affiliations

  • American Honey Producers Association (AHPA)
  • American Bee Federation (ABF)
  • California Bee Breeders Association (CBBA)
  • Bee Informed Partnership
  • ScientificBeeKeeping.com, Rand Oliver
  • Montana State Beekeepers Association

OHB in the News

July 14, 2016

Western FarmPress / Careful Management Promotes Healthy Honeybees

May 12, 2015

themarthablog.com / New Honey Bees at the Farm

February 1, 2014

Steppler Honey / Olivarez Honey Bees

November 17, 2013

Chico ER / Orland Honeybee Company a Hive of Activity

May 30, 2013

Project Apis m. / It's All About Forage

March 28, 2005

SFGate.com / Mites a Big Threat to Agriculture, Bee Parasite Poses Major Problems