Welcome - Explore my Blog

I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I began my 12th year of beekeeping in April 2017. Now there are almost 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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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Own Private Pesticide Protest

Honey bees and other pollinators are all in danger from the pesticides that are currently being sprayed to kill the mosquito in the panic over zika. Pesticide operators apply the poison without discretion, often not paying attention to the instructions for its application.

In addition, they spray indiscriminately in the daytime when all of the pollinators are flying, despite the fact that pollinator organizations have spoken out about the need to spray after dark. After all, they would have to pay their workers overtime to do so. And the definition of after dark in the summer is typically after 9 PM - can you imagine them actually following that directive? Does the photo below look safe to you?



Please try alternative methods.


I have my own private pesticide protest. I walk my dog two to three miles a day through our Virginia Highlands neighborhood. At least ten beekeepers live in my area within a couple of blocks of me. Every time I see one of the signs indicating that mosquito spray has been used in the yard, I pull the sign out of the ground and lay it on its side on the grass so people won't see it as they go by. On Mondays (which is trash collection day), I put the signs in the curbside garbage containers.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spiderman is Scared of Bees

Last summer I got an unexpected call.

"This is the location director for the new Spiderman movie and we need the help of a beekeeper. We are shooting some scenes for Spiderman in Piedmont park and we need someone to keep the bees in the beehives over there!"

I said, "Well, I can't do that. I can't make the bees stay in the hive and besides I don't have access to the bee hives in Piedmont Park."

He said, "We can't get in touch with the park's beekeeper. We'll pay you $20 to do this."

I laughed and told him that didn't begin to be enough money and besides, I couldn't make the bees stay in the beehive. He quickly raised it up to a lot of money and said he would pay me a minimum of four hours work a night for two nights. His biggest concern was that no one get stung - not Spiderman nor any of the many, many people working on the set. I said OK (if you get to a certain amount, I'll say yes to most anything!) and immediately called beekeeping buddies to get advice.

Piedmont Park is Atlanta's equivalent of Central Park. Many people daily walk right past these beehives so they are enclosed in a screened room with a locked door and open top. Here's how the beehives at Piedmont Park look:


I couldn't go inside the locked enclosure and simply cover the hives or block their entry for the night. And it's hot in July so many were bearding on the outside in the evenings. After getting good advice (mostly from Julia), I decided that what I should do is to cover the entire enclosure with wet sheets as one might cover just a single hive during a robbery. I gathered every sheet I had that wasn't on a bed (nine of them), put them in a bag and headed for the park. 

The movie was being shot at night, but because they were making the area brightly lit with huge spotlights, the bees were likely to continue flying if only to fly toward the lights. 

I got lots of help from many people (takes a ton of people to shoot a scene in Spiderman). We wet the sheets in a wheelbarrow.

Lots of equipment was assembled around the beehives. I couldn't believe how many people and items were needed to film Spiderman.


A water truck was nearby because they were planning to blow up a car near the beehives. This explosion was the main reason they were worried about the bees. This nice young man filled the wheelbarrow with water for me and pushed it to the beehives.

 Then he and I climbed up this ladder and draped the hive enclosure with the wet sheets.



As we finished, it was really dark. The bees stayed safely inside the enclosure and the filming began. All of this took me about 15 minutes to carry the equipment from my car to the hives and about 30 minutes to cover the enclosure. Then I could sit and watch all of the process involved in filming. 

Around 9 PM, they were ready to blow up the car, a mere 20 feet from the hives. The movie workers came over to me by the hives and requested that I move about 100 feet away to avoid being harmed by the explosion. 

I went over and sat with other movie workers on golf carts while the filming was going on. Although I had been warned, when the car blew up, I must have jumped a foot into the air!

When I left at 10 PM, there was still lots of filming planned for the remainder of the night. I went home and returned very early the next morning to remove the sheets. In that process, I did get one sting from a bee who was tangled in the folds of the sheet and felt irritated by my interference to rescue her.

So Spiderman was filmed in Atlanta's Piedmont Park with no bee stings to Spidey or his supporters. The only single sting was mine the next day.

If you see the movie, when the car blows up, think of me!



Best Part of a Mother's Day Bee Inspection!

My two-year-old grandson wanted to try on a bee hat and help his daddy and grandma with the bees:


Parker: the future of beekeeping!



Monday, May 08, 2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted!

The other day I looked out of my window and saw this on the front of a hive:


This looks like maybe 1 1/2 cups of bees - tiny swarm. It's probably a secondary swarm with a virgin queen. So I decided that I would try to capture them and brushed them into my swarm box, topping them with a ventilated hive top. But many of them flew right back to the hive front. 

I brushed again and this time, the bees started signaling that the queen was in the swarm box.

I held the swarm box up to the side of the hive and the bees systematically moved into the box.


So I carried this teacup swarm over to a waiting hive box and shook them in. In minutes the queen had led them all back to the swarm box. So now, I turned the swarm box upside down over the open topped hive box. I didn't take a photo, but the bees found their way out of the box and many flew back to the hive box.

This time, I brushed them into a cardboard nuc box and turned the nuc box on its side in front of the hive, assuming that the queen was in the upside down swarm box. I left it overnight.

The next morning all the bees were clumped in the inside corner of the cardboard nuc box. OK, your highness, I thought. My hive box isn't good enough for you...and you and your retinue are in the cardboard nuc so I'll just add frames and let you settle in there. 

So I did just that - put five frames into the nuc box and put the top on it. I opened the entry and set it on top of the hive box I wanted them to live in and left them overnight. 

  


I could see bees flying in and out of the entry - some went down into the hive box and some into the nuc box. I covered what had been covered with a hive drape with the inner cover. I thought, maybe now I've convinced the queen that this is a good place.

But this morning there was a swirling of bees. Not huge because she is not leading a huge swarm - just about 1 1/2 cups of bees - but she persisted nevertheless and the tiny group was taking off.


I waved "Bye" and wished her well. I hope they find a home they like better than my apiary.

PS, for a tiny in-joke, as I posted this, Blogger noted that this is my 1300th post and it's funny to me that having kept up this blog for twelve years, the 1300th post is titled "Nevertheless, she persisted!"




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