Welcome - Explore my Blog

I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I began my 13th year of beekeeping in April 2018. 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, February 07, 2019

A Spunky Little Swarm

On May 2, 2018, I got a swarm call to go to the Inman Rail Yard off of Marietta Street in Atlanta. I had no idea Atlanta had such a large train yard. Atlanta did start as Terminus, rather than Atlanta because of the many rail lines coming into the city. The rail yard is HUGE, covering many acres of land - I believe they said thirty acres.

The men at the rail yard were quite concerned and wanted to save this swarm of bees, so I gathered my swarm kit and drove very carefully into the rail yard. To get to the swarm, I had to cross track after track, each labeled with a large sign that said: DANGER, TRAIN DOES NOT STOP. 

As I waited to enter the monitored area, I watched the huge cargo trains go by my car:

Here's the fierce swarm I was summoned to rescue:


I shook this simple swarm into my box on the white sheet, covered it with a ventilated hive top, and waited a while to allow all the bees to join their sisters and the queen.




And to give you perspective on this Charlie Brown Christmas tree, here's how the tree looked post-swarm removal:

I imagine this swarm is from a feral hive because there are no obvious places for a backyard beekeeper to be within the thirty acres so I had high hopes of their survival. But I captured them on May 2 and in Atlanta, the nectar flow is almost over at that point. In Atlanta, a swarm in May is not worth a load of hay! 

I installed them in a hive at the community garden in my neighborhood. Because they were installed at the end of the nectar flow, they didn't have enough time to build up their hive and gather nectar for the cold months. Going into winter, they felt very light to me so I gave them two feedings of bee tea in a rapid feeder.


We've had a string of very cold days and now we are experiencing several February days that are like summer. Today the high is predicted to be 78.

I walked up to the garden yesterday to see if the bees are flying and indeed, the spunky little Charlie Brown swarm is flying and they have survived the cold.

When I opened the hive, I found the bees exploring the feeder in hopes that it would be tea time. So today I am going to pour just one quart of feed into the feeder to top off their stores, as it were. I don't want to feed them heavily because then the bees think there's a nectar flow on and start building up brood before there really is anything for them to forage.






Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Mary Oliver, poet and naturalist, has died

Mary Oliver loved nature and wrote about many parts of it. I've mentioned her poems about bees before, but since she died on January 17, 2019, last week, I want to note here about her contribution to the appreciation of bees. I love her poems about the bees because they are so close to how it is to be among the bees. Here's one I don't think I've posted before called "Hum."

Hum


What is this dark hum among the roses?
The bees have gone simple, sipping,
that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They’re small creatures and they are
filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not
moan in happiness? The little
worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.
Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand
that life is a blessing. I have found them-haven’t you?—
stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings
a little tattered-so much flying about, to the hive,
then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing,
should the task be to be a scout-sweet, dancing bee.
I think there isn’t anything in this world I don’t
admire. If there is, I don’t know what it is. I
haven’t met it yet. Nor expect to. The bee is small,
and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and
read books, I have to
take them off and bend close to study and
understand what is happening. It’s not hard, it’s in fact
as instructive as anything I have ever studied. Plus, too,
it’s love almost too fierce to endure, the bee
nuzzling like that into the blouse
of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course
the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over
all of us.
I've posted other poems of hers here, here and here.
The natural world has lost a beautiful voice with her death.

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