November 2nd 2020 and if winter has returned to much of the USA, here in Ramona, California - today, we've got 78 degrees under a cloudless sky.
It’s an 18 mile trek North from San Diego, and a 1500 foot climb up winding Highway 67 through the foothills; past new reservoirs and old peaks that would have given Westbound Settlers their first view of the Pacific.
Massive eucalyptus trees come together high above the middle of the road leading into this old Gold Rush town. Take a left on Montecito, out to the airport and you could imagine yourself on the set of a 1970’s Jack Nicholson Biker movie remake. Pass the last few houses, drive past livestock then a horseriding school as finally a Fire Tanker Base comes into view, an aviation boneyard, a quiet helicopter museum, then the Control Tower, all telling you you’ve arrived.
At the edge of town.
To the North, overlapping blue grey mountains disappear quietly into the sparkling haze, somewhere in the general direction of the San Bernardino County Line, fifty miles away.
This is where Vladimir Yestremski has his maintenance hangar.
Around noon, somebody doing an engine test cuts the mags, a Vedeneyev clanks down to silence, the riveting stops and workers gather around a table in the hangar.
Lunches are unpacked, scents of Slavic grains, fish sauces and fresh bread replace the normal aromas of the hangar. Colleagues munch and watch in silence as enormous Red Tailed Hawks out in the meadow get their lunch too.
As the drone of the bees emerges from the silence, this much tranquility can get a little heady.
It’s probably no surprise, given the foregoing, that Vladimir has been making his own honey for many years.
Around this lunch table, I’ve heard the bees’ story many times and there are always more questions to ask. Did you know, for example, that the females, the ones you see flying around, are the ones doing all the work? Searching, cleaning, protecting the hive.
(The males all lie around in the Ready Room, telling yarns and getting fat on Nectar until it’s time to go inseminating.)
After lunch, while airplane work inside the hangar reverts to Yak conditional inspections, to Wing fuel bladder refits and elevator bellcrank installations, beyond all that, Vlad has his girls out, working the corner.
Worldwide there are 4000 different types of Bee, so it's pretty incredible that 1600 of them live in California alone; and while you will have heard how those Bee populations are under attack, local apiarists / pollinators are making a huge difference to Bees' comeback and health.
Now you, too, can enjoy Vlad’s Yak Attack honey.
Go to the high-priced “locally sourced” grocery stores and you’ll definitely see local honey for sale. But because you’re the detailed type, you also noticed the word ‘Blended’ on the label.
No Blends here.
Vladimir’s girls do their collective honey thing in ten locations throughout the Ramona Oblast. The different flavors are determined by which blossoms are in season.
Wildflower honey with Comb added for the offbeat Connoisseur looking for a little crunch...
Mustard Flower honey with a unique back flavor to compliment the sweetness, that you won't forget.
Eucalyptus honey. Pungent and reminiscent of the forest, with undertones of menthol and caramel. Love it or hate it, this is the flavor of choice for those starting to experiment with Mead.
Wildflower honey. Everything the girls could find in the neighborhood. All the aromas of Orange blossom, Acacia with their light sweet characteristic taste.
2020....What a year.
If ever there was a time to stop and smell the roses, the first week of November has to be it.
Each 2 1/2lb Gross wt glass jars contain 2lb Net Weight of honey. They are shipped in drop-tested packaging and are only available to customers inside the US.
OK, maybe we could drop one off at a Crew Hotel in LA.
But you didn't hear it from me.
John flies out of KSEE whenever he can scrape together a few bucks to fill the tanks