Friday, December 28, 2007

Wintertime bee update

Basically, the bees are tucked in for the winter and doing fine. I added a windbreak since the winds were getting a little violent at times. Ideally, it would have been nice to find a spot to park the hive that had natural windbreak of bushes or even a building, but I had no such space available.
Sometimes I pull the cover off the top of the hive and peek down through the hole in the inner cover to see the bees clustered. Everyone seems to be doing just fine in there.

The Eye of the Bee(r) holder

This post has nothing to do with bees, but anyone who is interested in bees may also be interested in this. Since I had a few days off of work, I figured I'd brew up a batch of beer. The ingredients were purchased from Maryland Homebrew. They had a decent selection of kits with all the ingredients to brew up a batch of whatever your tastes desire. Below is a pic of my custom made brewing oven. The pot can be slid along the angle iron to control the temperature of the brew. Coffee can also be kept warm, as demonstrated in this pic. It looks a little hillbilly, I know, but it was a lot of fun to build and use. We'll see how the finished product turns out.

Update: The beer (or pre-beer substance) is fermenting like crazy. The fermentation process produces alcohol and CO2, and the CO2 must be released without air touching the brew. Hence, there is a fermentation lock on top of the fermentation unit, which basically functions in the same manner as the water trap on a sink or a toilet bowl. Bubbles come up through the water in the fermentation lock which lets me know things are going well. This will continue for about a week, at which point the brew will be siphoned off into a bottling bucket and dextrose sugar will be added. The beer will then be bottled. The dextrose sugar will be consumed by the remaining yeast, which will produce carbonation in the beer, a process that takes about a week. If the fermentation process is too strong, CO2 will build up and the bottles will explode.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Swarm collection box

Today I converted the cardboard box that my nuc came in into a swarm collection box. I put a frame with foundation in the middle to give the swarm something to crawl around on, and on the top of the box I added four bee escapes, which are basically one-way valves for bees. Bees can go in the box, but they cannot get back out. In theory, I can shake a swarm into the box and put the lid on it. Any bees from the swarm that did not go in the box immediately will eventually go in through the bee escapes, so long as the queen is in the box. I reinforced everything with duct tape, which makes the box more durable and water resistant.

This box is lightweight and is a good thing to put in the car in case you come across a swarm in your travels. I can also store swarm collection tools in the box, such as a bottle of Jim Beam and some Benadryl. Just kidding. Mostly.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'll be sure to remember the little people...

Holy cow. Can you believe there are people that actually read this blog? I received "honorable mention" from Bee Culture magazine in an article about bee-related blogs. I am humbled and flattered that the folks at Bee Culture considered my blog for this article. Flattery gets you everywhere with me!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Projects for this winter

My bees might be done working outside the hive for the Winter, but I have a laundry list of beekeeping chores that need to be completed for this coming season. First, I am hoping for a good honey crop this year so I need to line up bottles and honey processing equipment. I came upon some used equipment, including the pictured honey extractor, that I want to rebuild for next season's harvest. It works well enough, but since it is an older galvanized model (unlike the newer stainless steel models) I want to paint with a product called Cambridge Coatings, which is a food use-approved clear coating that makes it easy to clean. Additionally, I want to build a stand to affix the extractor to, which will allow the hone to drain directly into a bucket that can be used to bottle the honey. Some other honey processing toys that I came across is a hot knife to cut the wax cappings off the frames, and a bunch of bee escapes that can be used to evacuate bees from the honey supers when harvesting. I also have some other extractors, but the one pictured is the one I will likely use. I still need to get a fume board and some cool bottles to put the honey in.

I also want to get a second hive ready just in case I come across any swarms, be they from my hive or anyone else's. And of course, there are plenty of beekeeping books to read this Winter.

Wintertime and the livin's easy...

My hive is buttoned up and ready for winter. I am wintering in two deeps and medium. I estimate that there is over 100 pounds of sugar syrup and honey in there, so starvation is not a concern of mine. The medium super, which uses the Pierco plastic frames, is all sugar syrup and honey, whereas the two deep boxes contain both brood and honey. I noticed that a few first year beekeepers entered honey in the local fair this year, so I will be curious to see if their bees will have enough food stored to survive the winter. I don't see how it is possible that you could have no bees in April (most folks in my area received their nucs and packages of bees in May this year) and have extracted honey the first week of August without seriously compromising the chances of your bees successfully surviving the winter. I guess we'll see how things shake out this Spring.

I switched the original mouse guard that I made for another one that I made out of 1/4 inch hardware cloth. This new mouse guard allows more airflow, which is important in cold weather so that the condensation produced by the cluster can escape the hive so that the bees are not encased in a block of ice. The new mouse guard also allows more bees to enter and exit when the temperature is over 55 degrees. The previous mouse guard that I made was acting too much like an entrance reducer for my taste.

Speaking of taste, I can taste this Spring's honey crop already...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Scales: Part 2

I stumbled across a second scale that I can use to park a hive on. This scale (the light blue one) is a 1,000 pound model, unlike my other scale which has a maximum capacity of 500 pounds. I would surprised if even the strongest hive weighs over 300 pounds, even when stacked with full honey supers.

I completely disassembled, wire brushed, primed with rust inhibitor paint, and then reassembled and painted each scale. I also turned the direction of the needle balance, primarily because I prefer the counter weight holder to be toward the rear of the scale. It was a fun process to restore these scales. Each one is over 50 years old, and they are surprisingly accurate.

Friday, November 9, 2007

At least they aren't named Pat...

An interesting op/ed piece in the New York Times about the inaccuracies in Bee Movie. Of course, everybody knows that Bee Movie is not a documentary (the bees have opposable thumbs and talk, for goodness sakes) but the fact that many worker bees are portrayed as male is unnecessarily inaccurate, and had upset some purists. Here is my favorite part:

If Mr. Seinfeld wanted realism (and an R rating), his male bees would be sex workers who do little more than mate with the queen — after which their genitals snap off. Worse: when winter comes, worker bees shove the freeloading males out into the cold. If drones are required in the spring, the queen will simply make more of them.

Life is tough!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Can't please everyone...

This spring, I want to put my hive under a scale to weigh how much nectar and pollen are coming in. I might even put it under the hive this winter to measure how much honey is used. I was fortunate enough to come across this old Fairbanks scale for a steal of a price. All I had to do was paint it and clean up the inner workings to get it taking accurate readings. No one seems to like the color I painted it. Not even the cat.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Coconut telegram

I had a frame of drone comb in the freezer that I finally decided to cull (scrape off the comb). Since there was a good bit of honey left on the frame, I decided to leave the comb with honey on the frame and let the bees take it. It took the bees about 10 minutes to be robbing about the frame like crazy. It is amazing how quickly they find food sources and communicate those findings to the rest of the colony using waggle dances.

Changing of the guard...

Since the weather has cooled off a bit, I went ahead and installed a mouse guard on my hive. Mice find the warm confines of a beehive a nice place to live when it is cool outside and the bees are clustered an unable to attack. Once inside, the mice totally wreck the comb and woodenware.

This particular mouse guard is of the homemade variety. It is recycled from a leftover piece of roofing tin from a building that received a new roof.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Elephants run from bees?

This is probably true. I can honestly say that I have not had any elephants in my yard since I got a beehive.

Next project: Observation hive

My wife/assistant beekeeper/official bee photographer and I went to Larriland Farm in Lisbon. Larriland is a pick-your-own farm that is quite popular with yuppies in my ‘hood. I knew that Larriland had bees, because I had seen the hives during last year's hayride. However, I did not realize that they had an observation hive as well. It is located in the big red barn where you pay for all the stuff you picked. I am always fascinated with observation hives, but this one has finally made me decide to get one for myself. My wintertime project will be to build or buy one, and my preliminary plan is to take a couple frames from my other hive and have the bees raise a new queen in the observation hive. I think that would be pretty cool to watch. The downer is that it might put a real hurting on the amount of honey that I can produce this year.

The observation hive:

The queen in the observation hive that my wife found in about 3 seconds flat:

Uh, I think the outside apiary needs some attention:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lots of dead mites...

My varroa mite counts have been rising to peak at more than 50 mite per day despite my organic treatment methods, so I broke down and put some Apistan Strips in my hive. The strips work. I have never seen so many dead mites on my mite board. It is not a good idea to use the same mite treatment two years in a row, so next season I will try something different. However, I am impressed with the strips.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Heading into fall in good shape…

As the summer draws to a close, my bees are in good shape. They have two deep brood chambers and a medium fully drawn. The medium is almost completely full of sugar syrup, and there is a good bit of honey in the other brood boxes as well. The hive is densely populated with bees, and they have become defensive of their stored food. As a result, my bee photographer has lost interest in hanging around the hive as I paw through it. In fact, the heat (especially when wearing a full bee suit) and the sheer number of bees have made my inspections pretty quick.

The only downer is that my varroa mite population has exploded. I was getting a mite drop of 10-15 mites every 24 hours, but now a 24 hour mite drop typically yields more than 50 mites. The rule of thumb is to treat when a 24 hour mite drop is around 150, so I still have some wiggle room before I need to take any chemical action. I am keeping on top of the sugar dusting, but I broke down and ordered some Apistan Strips (a commercial pesticide for mites) to have on hand in case things get much worse. Since mites develop alongside bee larvae, and brood production will likely shut down this month, mite reproduction should stop as well.

In the meantime, I just need to keep feeding and keep an eye on the mite situation to make sure my bees will survive the winter. I can taste next year’s honey crop already!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just stay away from the pointy end...

I received word from my neighbor that my honeybees were building a nest in the eves of their porch. Turns out the “honeybees” are actually yellow jackets (which are not even considered bees). It’s funny how everything with a stinger is a bee to most people. Of course, I probably would have thought the same thing a few years ago.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Like Top Gun. Only With Bees.

Sunday afternoon I sat and watched a European Hornet pick a couple of my honey bees right out of the air and eat them. I tried unsuccessfully to kill the hornet, but I have resolved to let nature take its course. Well, at least for now anyway. My hive is doing very well and is more than capable of defending itself. European Hornets fit into the ecosystem, too.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Well, my normally gentle bees have become much more aggressive since the nectar flow has ended. I inspected the hive last Saturday and I got stung twice. Unlike the first time I was stung, these two times hurt. In defense of my bees, I had let the feeder jar run out a few days prior to the inspection, so it makes sense that they would have been a bit more defensive of their honey stores. Also, there are so many bees that it is difficult to move your hands without disturbing at least a few of them.

Other than the defensive behavior, all is well. There is plenty of eggs, larvae, brood and honey. I would love to post some pics, but my official bee photographer has been slow in transferring the pics from her computer to mine (hint).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Home is where the honey is...

From the Examiner:

LILLY, Pa. - Matthew Danchanko has squatters in his new home. And they won't leave without a fight. They're honeybees - tens of thousands of them. They buzz through the four-bedroom house, creating a low hum and an estimated 100 pounds of honey.

Danchanko recently bought the house northeast of Johnstown, Pa. He planned to fix it up and move in. But shortly after he began renovating, the long-time residents of the house made it abundantly clear they had no intention of leaving.

Danchanko won't exterminate the unwanted guests because the honeybee population has significantly deteriorated this summer. Instead, he has found a local beekeeper who will remove the buzzing brood.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hot Summer Nights…

You know the dog days of summer are here when the bees are bearding on the front porch of the hive in droves. Look at that beard!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Leggo my eggo

Saturday was inspection day, and I went through both the upper and lower brood chamber. The bees are really doing well. The frames closest to the walls of the hive are heavy with honey, and the remaining frames are filled with more honey, eggs, larvae, capped brood and pollen. I removed the drone frame and replaced it with a new undrawn drone frame. I am happy to report that no mites were found in the capped drone cells, but I am saddened that all those capped drones are now in my freezer. I think my sugar dusting have been so successful in preventing the mites that there are not many even in the drone cells. Lesson learned: from now on, I’ll uncap a sample of 30 or so drone cells before I decide to freeze the frame. If I don’t find any mites, the frame goes back in the hive, not the freezer. I can’t believe how gentle these bees are. I was shaking them wildly off the drone frame when I removed it, and I did not get stung at all.

My favorite pic from the inspection is below. The little white things at the bottom of the cells (they look like grains of rice standing on end) are eggs. How they become chickens I’ll never know. Oh, wait a minute…

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Let me out!

Here is a video of some drones hatching from the cells of the green drone frame. Ordinarily, there would be hundreds or thousands of worker bees covering this frame, but this shot was taken after I shook off the worker bees that were tending to the drone brood on the frame. The empty cells are from drones that already hatched. Luckily, I did not find any mites in any of the drone cells. I guess that means my powdered sugar treatments are working to prevent the mites.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

I have noticed that for the past couple of days, my bees have been bringing in bright yellow pollen like there is no tomorrow. I have racking my brain trying to find the source, and I happened to look at some blooming pumpkins in the garden. The bees were on the pumpkin blooms like white on rice.

To the right of the below pic you can see a working hauling in some pumpkin pollen:

Here are some bees on a pumpkin bloom:

They like cucumbers too:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Advice from Beekeepers

I don’t even know what to say about this. So I won’t even try.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Now, if bees could vote...

There was a bee related editorial in the Baltimore Sun. Basically, it called for further public beekeeping assistance. Here's a tidbit:

Unfortunately, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has only one full-time employee, plus some part-time contractors, to inspect hives for diseases. These inspectors have to do double duty advising beekeepers - which is not their job - because in 1996 the Maryland Cooperative Extension eliminated the last apiculture extension faculty position. If the system were working properly, the University of Maryland would do research on how to improve beekeeping, and agricultural extension would bring it to the beekeeper.

But it's not happening. One example of this neglect: Since 1984, two types of invasive mites have devastated Maryland bees, becoming resistant to several treatments in turn and leaving beekeepers without effective controls for these pests. But the Cooperative Extension has not revised its printed beekeeping handout since 1983. The inspection program needs better support; UM should do more practical honeybee research; and the beekeeping extension program needs to be revived.

Ahh, government inaction! Ooops, I meant in action.

Speaking of government and bees, I purchased my bees from a gentleman whose day job is a Maryland State bee inspector. He makes nucs as a sideline business. I guess he inspects his own nucs, because when I purchased my bees they came with the yellow inspection sticker that says that my bees are inspected and free of disease. I stuck the sticker on my hive after installation of the nuc. So if anyone was wondering about the sticker, that’s the skinny.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sittin’ on the front steps, starin’ down the road…

Now that the weather is getting hotter, many bees can be seen cooling off on the front of the hive. This is known as “bearding”. Just like people without air conditioning, the bees hang out on the front porch to keep cool. The pictures don’t do it justice- it’s pretty cool to watch.

The cat, of course, is unimpressed.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A shout-out to the environment…

The bee is not afraid of me,
I know the butterfly;
The pretty people in the woods
Receive me cordially.

The brooks laugh louder when I come,
The breezes madder play.
Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists?
Wherefore, O summer's day?

~ Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Random thoughts

Today, I went to Don Pablo’s in Columbia for a quick happy hour. In the parking lot, there was a small patch of grass and some trees surrounded by a curb, common in many parking lots. I notice a good bit of clover in bloom in the grass (something I would never have noticed if I didn’t keep bees) and I saw a couple of Italian honey bees collecting nectar from the clover.

Given the flight range of a honey bee is about a mile and a half, I suspect these bees were from a feral colony. I seriously doubt anyone is keeping bees in the commercial and heavily suburban areas within a mile and a half radius Don Pablo’s. This put a smile on my face. It is good to see there are still feral colonies out there that have not been killed of by mites, CCD or uniformed humans with cans of Raid.

What I find even more interesting, is that you rarely ever hear of swarm sightings or other kinds of European honey bee “inconveniences” in the local media. This shows that feral bees are thriving just under the radar of human awareness. Bees are highly evolved survival machines that (hopefully) will be around for a long time.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Movin' up town

I did a brief inspection to see how things are going in the upper hive body. The comb on the new frames is being drawn well, especially the drone comb on the green drone frame. Too bad the brood on that frame will wind up in my freezer as a mite control measure.

My favorite queen pic so far:

A new frame of new comb:

Sugar coated bees

After reading an article in the American Bee Journal, I decided to try a chemical free and cutting edge treatment for varroa mites. Basically, this method involves simply dusting the bees with two cups of powdered sugar, which interferes with the ability of the mites to attach themselves to the bees. This works because the sticky foot pad of the mites is ineffective once it is covered in powdered sugar. With the foot pad out of commission, the mites fall off the bees. Thus, this is a mechanical way to prevent mites, rather than a chemical.

I put a metal window screen on top of an empty super and brushed the sugar through it onto the bees below. The bees sounded kind of pissed.

Three hours after dusting, there were 26 mites that had fallen off the bees through the screened bottom board. I was hoping for more, but mites are not a huge problem for my bees at this point. As long as I do this every three weeks or so, along with the removal of the capped drone brood (mites reproduce in drone comb), I hope to minimize the mite threat.

What could be better than bees coated with powdered sugar?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Busy bees

Yesterday was inspection day. I have not pawed through the hive in three weeks, and in that time the bees have been hard at work. With the exception of one side of a wall frame, all 10 frames in the hive are fully drawn. They have been sucking down the sugar syrup from the hive top feeder which has really stimulated their desire to draw the comb out. Most of new frames are filled with capped brood and a good bit of capped honey. The bees have really taken advantage of the clover bloom to build up significant honey stores. I ate some of the burr comb honey I scrapped off the top of a frame and ate it. Mmmm…it was delish. One of the new frames has eggs and larvae on it. Interestingly, I have only seen the queen on one of the four original nuc frames, but she is obviously getting around to the other frames to lay eggs.

The bees are doing so well, in fact, I have added a second deep hive body. The frames in the new hive body are not drawn, so the hive top feeder will stay on to encourage them to draw comb on these frames quickly. I am extremely pleased with their progress.

Miscellaneous pictures:

Her majesty...

This comb honey tasted GOOD...

Look at the capped brood and honey on this pretty new comb...

Check out the larvae in the cells of this frame (they look like little white grubs)...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away by Next Weekend

Well, I wanted to inspect the hive today but the weather thwarted my plans. Honestly, we need the rain so badly that I am not complaining. The weather yesterday, of course, was perfect for hive inspection, but my excellent bee photographer was unavailable. It appears that Orlando Bloom dressed like a pirate is more important that my bees ;-). So, today I just filled up my hive top feeder with sugar syrup. Since they are unable to fly, I at least want to make sure they are able to draw comb. Sugar syrup ensures this. In the meantime, I will put on a Jimmy Buffett record and hope for better weather next weekend.

Below are some bees gorging on syrup from the hive top feeder...

And here is my wonderful bee photographer, dressed to remove plutonium from the hive…

Saturday, May 26, 2007

You load sixteen tons, what do you get...

One of my favorite things to do is just sit back a little ways from the hive and watch the bees fly in with loads of pollen and nectar. The pollen can be seen on the hind legs (in the corbicula for the scientifically inclined) of the returning foragers. Right now the bees are bringing in light grayish pollen and bright orange pollen. The nectar is carried in the stomach of the bees and cannot be seen.

Thus far, the colony seems to be flourishing. Every week there are more and more bees flying about.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Float like a butterfly….

I finally got stung. It really didn’t hurt that badly, I actually felt worse for the bee for which it was a suicide mission. Plus, it was my fault. I had just put a grease patty on the hive (a mixture of Crisco and sugar) which is used to prevent tracheal mites, and I had the sugar all over my hands. Sugar attracts bees, so I tried to get as much off as possible. It didn’t work. A bee must have landed on my hand without me noticing and when I moved my hand, she got me.

She works hard for the money...

I cracked open the hive to see how things are going after one week. Basically, everything looks great. The bees are busy drawing new comb on the new frames as expected. There is plenty of capped brood, larvae and honey on the original nuc frames. The queen is looking healthy. I’ll check again in two or three weeks, but in the meantime I’ll just keep feeding them sugar syrup and let them do their thing.

Plenty of capped brood...

Pretty new comb...

The queen is looking good...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

When you sleep with the dogs…

You wake up with mites.

The bottom of my hive is made of wire screen mesh. These types of bottom boards became popular after the invasion of the varroa mite, a parasitic mite that inflicts bee colonies. Almost every bee colony is infested with these mites to some degree. Anyway, the theory behind the screened bottom board is that when the mites happen to fall off the bees, they will fall through the screen and onto a tray that can be inspected by the beekeeper. Counting the mites is one way to gauge the severity of the mite infestation of your bees.

Tonight, I pulled the tray beneath my screened bottom board and I found three varroa mites. They are so small they look like random dirt specs- but they move. I also found lots of little flakes of beeswax which leads me to believe the bees are busy drawing comb. Additionally, I found little green pellets which were kind of mushy. I think these are pollen pellets that the bees were working into the comb and happened to drop.

Ah, the fun things you can see without even opening the hive!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Home Sweet Home

After a late Saturday morning phone call along the lines of “Hey, your bees are ready- can you be here tonight to get them?” I found myself on my way to Western Maryland to pick up my nuc (pronounced the same as “nuke”, the WMD).

A nuc is basically a couple of frames (usually 3-5) of bees in a wooden or cardboard box that serves as a temporary hive. The frames from the nuc are then installed in a permanent hive. The good thing about a nuc is that the queen has already been accepted by the bees and she has been verified by the nuc-maker to be laying eggs. I thought this was the best way to go for a beginner.

The installation of the nuc frames into my hive went very smoothly. The weather was a tad chilli and it was a little bit breezier than I would have liked, but all in all it wasn’t too bad. The temperament of the bees was great. I just blew some smoke into the nuc box which immediately chilled the bees out. The whole time I was juggling around the frames the bees were as calm as Hindu cows. The bees had glued the frames in the nuc box pretty good, so I had to do quite a bit of prying to get them out. It seemed like there were zillions of bees on the frames so it was tough to see if there were eggs or larvae in the comb. I did notice a good deal of nectar and honey which is a good sign. The comb on the nuc frames was drawn out far enough where it was a bit of challenge to fit them, along with six frames of foundation, into the new hive.

Check out the queen bee in the above pic. She is the one with the yellow dot on her back.

The last step was to add some sugar syrup to the hive top feeder to get the bees to draw comb on the new frames. In about a week I’ll crack the hive open again and make sure they are drawing comb and I’ll check for eggs and larvae. They're home at last!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Operation Desert Swarm

Tis’ the season for swarms, so I want to say a few words about them as a public service to non-beekeepers.

First, a swarm is when about half the bees (including the queen) decide to leave the hive all at once and look for a new place to live. The bees in the hive that stay behind raise a new queen and otherwise continue business as usual. Swarms are how bees start new colonies. Most animals, like people, perpetuate their species by rearing young that leave the nest and start new families. Social insects, like bees, need to produce new colonies in addition to new individual bees. Thus, Swarms are the means in which bees “leave the nest” and make new colonies. In other words, swarms are perfectly natural bee behavior.

Secondly, bees normally sting to defend their hives, their brood, and their food stores. Since swarms have no hive, no brood and no food, they are gentle. In fact, a swarm of bees is the gentlest state in which you can find bees. You can literally paw through them with your hands to find the queen and you won’t get stung (as long as you are gentle).

Third, Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) are not yet in Maryland. It is doubtful that AHBs will ever be able to live in Maryland since they do not survive northern winters. If you a see a swarm in Maryland, it is probably not a swarm of so called “killer bees”.

Swarms usually hang out for a few hours or a few days while scout bees go out and look for a new place to live. As soon as one is found, the swarm will head to the new home and take up residence. If you see a swarm, the best thing to do is take a few pictures and enjoy the miracle of nature that it is.

If you see a swarm and do something like this, you are a moron.

Friday, May 4, 2007

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay...

Here is a brief news video on a swarm that was captured today in DC. I wonder where the swarm came from? Is there someone keeping bees in the city (which I suspect is illegal) or are there feral colonies out there that have not been killed off by mites?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bees in the Court System

Honey bees just cost Monsanto some sales. By transferring pollen from Roundup Ready alfalfa to regular alfalfa, bees cause the Round Up resistant trait can be transferred to the regular alfalfa. Many people, including the judge, are unhappy about this.

A Federal judge today made a final ruling that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) 2005 approval of Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" alfalfa was illegal. The Judge called on USDA to ban any further planting of the GE seed until it conducts a complete Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the GE crop.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Call me anytime…

How did the “cell phone” theory as a cause for CCD become so popular? Even the scientists who conducted the experiment did not link cell phones as a cause of CCD.

Monday, April 30, 2007

CCD: it's anybody's guess

Here is a great article on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and race to find a cause. Theories run the gamut on what the cause of CCD might be. My favorite is that God is calling the bees to heaven (someone actually suggested this to the researchers). Another one, which sounds like it might be possible but the science does not support it, is that cell phones are causing CCD. It might not make sense scientifically, but I won’t take any chances. When my bees finally arrive, I will not be allowing them to have cell phones!

The Sun had a good article today as well.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Just waiting for my nuc to arrive...

I have selected the site for my apiary, assembled and set up my equipment, so now I just sit back and wait for the nuc that I purchased to arrive. Hopefully, it will arrive in the next 2-3 weeks. I have most likely missed the nectar flow already, so a crop of honey is probably not in the cards this year. I will focus on building a strong, healthy colony of bees to get a crop of honey next year and possibly split this hive into two. In the meantime, there are plenty of bee books to read.

The goofy looking thing between the top cover and the brood chamber is my fancy pants hive top feeder. I will leave that on at least until I have two brood chambers of drawn comb and then stop feeding for the summer or switch to a feeder jar with only a few holes to simulate a light nectar flow.