Welcome - Explore my Blog

I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 16th year of beekeeping in April 2021. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. (678) 597-8443

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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Bee Informed Partnership Auction

 Many of us beekeepers benefit from the work of the Bee Informed Partnership. They keep records about bee deaths around the country, they help beekeepers with their Sentinel program weighing hives, they provide webinars and videos that you can watch online, and they have loads of educational material on their website.

To fund these endeavors, they offer an auction every year. The auction is going on right now until November 8. I donated a quilted bag I made (photos below) and there are so many other wonderful items available for auction. I wanted to bid on many of them and have bid on some. Go visit and see if you would like to bid in the auction and support a great website and organization.

Photos of the bag I donated:

                                            






I loved making this bag because to me it looks like the way the bees move around the hive! Inside there is a double pocket for your cell phone, reading glasses, etc. and the closure is a bee button as well as there is a bee button in the center on the front of the bag.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

New Video Series on Cooking with My Honey

 On October 18, I was invited to speak to the Tara Beekeeping Association on cooking with honey. I gave a talk to this club in 2011 and at that time, their meetings were held at a building where there was a kitchen. So I cooked during the meeting and brought all kinds of dishes that I had made with honey to share with the club members. 

This year they are meeting on Zoom. I wondered how in the world to manage a talk on food without being able to feed the people there. One of the club officers suggested that I think about it like a cooking show - like Rachel Ray, she said. I started thinking about my videos of the bee hive inspections that I did all through the pandemic on video and then on Zoom.

Why couldn't I do cooking with honey that way?

I went to the farmer's market and stocked up on all the ingredients I needed and then began cooking and filming. I used the same tripod, mic, and phone holder that I used for the hive inspections. 

My biggest obstacles were three: 

  • I am not Rachel Ray; 
  • I moved this year into a tiny house with a tiny kitchen so camera placement was difficult; 
  • My hands shake all the time when I do fine motor stuff - it's not a disease - just aging essential tremor, but it is embarrassing. 
I decided to stare down all of the above and plow ahead anyway.

Title slide from PowerPoint

I created a PowerPoint presentation with a menu from cocktail and appetizer to dessert. Every menu item had honey as an ingredient. I filmed each menu item separately and then put inserts or heavily edited portions of the videos into my PowerPoint to shorten the presentation to the 30 - 50 minutes that were allotted. I had a fabulous time.

The program went well and I got positive feedback, so I decided to put the videos up on my YouTube channel. There are about seven up there now, and I am going to keep a list of the videos on the Pages for Bee Information on the right column of this blog. If you are interested in cooking with honey, I'll keep updating that page as I add videos to my YouTube channel. 



Monday, October 18, 2021

Cooking with Honey: Making Cocktail Sausages with Honey

 A quick and easy appetizer that includes honey in the sauce are these cocktail sausages:




Recipe for Honey Sauce and Sausages

Ingredients:


2 lbs cocktail sausages

2 T toasted sesame oil

½ cup honey

2 T soy sauce


Instructions:


Preheat oven to 425. 

Stir together all liquid ingredients

Place sausages in an iron skillet or roasting pan (skillet is preferable)

Pour liquid over the sausages and roast for 20 - 25 minutes.

Stir about every 10 minutes.


Serve with toothpicks to spear the sausages.


Cooking with Honey: How to Make a Bees Knees Cocktail

 

I gave a talk to the Tara Beekeepers Association tonight and included all the elements of a good honey dinner in which every menu item had honey as an ingredient. The first item on the menu was a Bees Knees Cocktail. Here's the video of how to make it.

Recipe for a Bees Knees Cocktail:

Serves 2


Ingredients:


¼ cup hot water

1 tsp lavender blossoms

¼ cup honey

6 T gin

2 T lemon juice


Bring water to a boil. Pour ¼ cup over the lavender blossoms and allow to steep for five minutes. Mix the honey into the hot water/lavender mix. Strain into another container.


To make the drink put 3 T of the honey simple syrup that you just made, gin and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and then pour into a glass to serve.


The remaining simple syrup can be used for other drinks, to make lemonade, etc.


Monday, August 23, 2021

ANOTHER pesticide kill!

 What a year! As you know, I am the beekeeper at SPARK elementary school (Springdale Park Elementary School - part of the Atlanta public schools. I've kept hives at SPARK since the summer of 2017 so this is my fifth year. We've done inspections there (Meghan M., the science person at the school) and I - you can see the hive installations this year by clicking here. And you can see an inspection of these hives here.

This week Meghan texted me that there were dead bees all over the rooftop garden at the school where we have the hives.


The sidewalks were lined with thousands of dead bees. On the ground level bees and other pollinators (bumblebees and lady bugs) were also dying. Many were lying in pools of their own feces.


I urged her to report this to the Department of Agriculture in Georgia. They will send out an inspector. 

As we talked and as she asked desperately about what might have happened, she found out that the school system's landscapers were at the school the day before from 9 - 11. She texted "No one at the school sprayed for anything. The landscapers were here yesterday but they are contractors. We don't know if they did something." 

The bees fell dead right out of their flight paths. 

The next day, one of the hives had a huge pile of dead bees in front of it. These girls managed to get back home, but died and were dragged out of the hive. This pile does not include the thousands dead on the sidewalks.

on the front edge of this photo, you can see yellow diarrhea...

Of course, when Meghan called the Department of Ag, they said if APS (the Atlanta Public Schools) had done the spraying, contractor or not, they can't issue a citation to APS for APS. They said if a neighbor had sprayed, then they could issue a citation and send out an investigator, but could not cite APS for something APS did, nor could they investigate.

However the Dept of Ag will report this to EPA.

I am heart sick. I was out of town when this happened and the first day I can go look at the hives is Wednesday. It will be amazing if these two hives can now make it through the winter, so short on bee resources as they now are.






Friday, August 06, 2021

Successful Late Summer Split

 Starting on June 21, the summer solstice, the queen slows down her laying and continues this decrease until the winter solstice in December. So in Georgia, where we generally harvest all the honey we are going to take by July 4, the queen also doesn't lay as many drones as she did pre-June 21. 

Making post-harvest splits is a fine procedure, but you do need to know that your new queen, assuming you let the bees make their own, may not be well-bred when she goes on her mating flight...less drones, less opportunity. So when I do make splits in July, I hold my breath until the new queen proves herself.

I moved to a new house in June and moved my bees at the very end of June to their new location. I had planned to split one of the hives to put a new hive of bees in my daughter's yard where the swarm we housed had absconded. My bees needed to adjust to their new location before I interfered and split them so I went to the mountains for the month of July, planning to cross my fingers and do a split when I returned.

As luck would have it, I came home for three days in mid-July, so while I was in Atlanta, I made a split for Sarah's yard on July 13. It was a tiny split - a frame of brood and lots of eggs, a frame of pollen, and a frame of honey and brood. That was it. I housed it in a medium box and crossed my fingers. I put a Boardman feeder on top of the inner cover, filled it with sugar syrup, and surrounded it with a deep box. 

A split in mid July provides a brood break which is a natural beekeeping IPM method of varroa control, so it helps the new hive stay healthy. Since our first frost is in mid-November, they had a good head start on building up for winter with a laying queen. I will, of course, make sure they are fed up until then. If the hive can make it through the winter, there's a good chance it will come into spring strong with a big population.

When I returned at the end of July, I exchanged the Boardman for a rapid feeder surrounded by a medium. There were plenty of bees (clearly some of the brood on those three frames had emerged) and the hive was calm. I didn't go into the hive for fear of ruining a maturing queen cell as I lifted a frame.

Sarah has kept the feeder full of sugar syrup which the bees have been devouring. On August 5, I returned to the hive to add a box. I didn't want them to backfill all of the laying space with syrup and I wanted to see if they had a laying queen by now. The split was twenty-three days ago and she should be laying, if she was able to survive and get mated. 

The first good sign as I arrived at the hive was that bees were carrying in pollen on their legs, often a sign of a laying queen. Not a great picture, but the bee on the left in the photo below has pollen on her legs.

The hive was still using about three frames for brood raising and the rest for storing syrup. I started the inspection on the side of the hive fartherest from the activity in the hive. Five frames were being used for syrup storage - only one was filled. The sixth frame had tons of eggs on both sides of it. You can see the frames on the occupied side of the box in the photo below.


I added the box, closed up the hive and celebrated!


A successful late season split! HOORAY!


Saturday, May 22, 2021

I was part of an educational bee article!

 I was asked to be a part of an educational resource website, Twinkl, in an article about the honey bee and other bees. Here it is, if you'd like to see. The resources on the page are fantastic and really helpful to students meeting the honey bee for the first time.


I was asked to provide a fun fact about bees. I sent two and the author decided (rightly so, I think) that the first thing I sent was too racy, so he used the second. But if you'd like to know my first fun bee fact, here it is:

The boy bees (drones) have one purpose in life which is to give a queen bee a special hug. They hang around in the sky at areas called drone congregation areas (like a club for boy bees) until a queen bee from another hive (not their mother) flies by. Then all the boy bees do their best to be the one to give the queen a special hug. They have waited all of their bee life for this opportunity, but when it happens a very important part of their body breaks off and they fall to the ground dead. They never get the joy they have been waiting for. But because none of them live to tell the tale, the boy bees keep lining up for this end to their life. Of course, the upside is that for the bee populations, this special hug allows the queen bee to go on and lay 1000 eggs a day for the rest of her life.



Impressive Treatment Free Video from Great Britain

 My friend Kathy Bourn sent me this video which is very heartening if you want to be a treatment free beekeeper. I haven't treated in my entire sixteen years of beekeeping but this guy doesn't treat and does research to support what is happening with his bees:


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