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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. 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.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. ‪(404) 482-1848‬

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Give a Bee Hive

If any of you are doing last minute charitable contributions as the clock approaches midnight and the end of 2012, a great thing to do is to contribute to the Heifer project.  Only $30 provides a hive of bees to someone in a country where they need help to make a living.

Here's the link.

Their page is a little slow tonight as many US citizens try to do last minute donations, but it is well worth it and you will be adding to the honey bee population as well as increasing the number of beekeepers in the world.

If you didn't know this about Heifer, when they give an animal or in this instance, a beehive, then the recipient has the responsibility to pass their knowledge on to another person.  In other words,  a new beekeeper should, next year, split the hive they were given this year and give the split to another person as well as help the person get started as a beekeeper.

It's the old teach a man to fish approach rather than feed the man fish.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bees on Christmas Trees

Every year my collection of ornaments bee for the tree grows a little.  Here's what my tree looked like in the "bee" section this year:

There's a bee from my daughter, Becky, a beekeeper's glove from my friend Nancy, a honey jar from my friend Mary, a lady beekeeper (her face is obscured but she has appeared in other holiday posts from previous years).  

This year I was given two new ornaments bee.  My friend Gina gave me an adorable skep and my sister Beth gave me a metal bee:

Sadly, the honey jar jumped off of the tree when nobody was anywhere near it and shattered so it will be no more - that's of course, is one reason why it's nice to get these two new ones.

Then last night I went to a lovely post-Christmas dinner with women friends and my friend Nelia presented me with this fabulous female beekeeper to grace my tree for years to come:

She was made in Germany and is a woman after my own heart - she has a bee in her "bonnet" and a bee on her arm.  Since I'm not in the mountains any longer, I put her on my Atlanta tree so I can enjoy her for the next few days until I take the tree down here.  I only decorate that tree with candy canes so that my grandkids can take one home each time they come over, so this little beekeeper really stands out on the tree.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stocking Stuffers for Beekeepers

I saw this on Facebook and thought it might be useful for some of you out there.  Here's a convenient list of stocking stuffers for Beekeepers:


What I would add to her list:

  • A box of Ziploc sandwich bags:  great for carrying wax scrapings, etc. back from the beehive
  • Rubber bands - the giant kind - for holding comb into frames that is catty-whumpus and you want to straighten out.
  • Bee Christmas ornaments - I now have a small collection, the latest of which is a metal honeybee that my sister bought for me at a craft fair
  • Molds for soap, lotion bars, or candles
  • an 8"square baking pan - if you enter wax blocks in honey contests, you can never have enough of these since you almost need to use a new one each time
  • Permanent magic markers - innumerable uses
  • Bee related magnets for your car 
  • Any bee item from Etsy
  • Small jars of someone else's honey - always fun to taste and compare - although most beekeepers will always think their own is the best
  • A subscription to a bee magazine
  • A propane grill lighter - great for lighting smokers
  • A honeybee cookie cutter

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Dean Stiglitz on Honey Bee Genetics

ApiNews this week included a link to a video by Dean Stiglitz.  Dean ran the Treatment Free Bee Conference that Julia, Noah and I went to this summer.  He is also the author with his wife Laurie of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping - which is a great book (so far--I'm reading it cover to cover this winter and am not through yet.)

Dean gave a version of this talk at the conference in Massachusetts.  The slides in the video that I am sharing in this post are a little off - don't know what was wrong in the YouTube video - but you can make sense of them anyway.

He obviously had a very short amount of time to give this presentation, but he did a good job of explaining how the drone's genetics work in the mating with the queen.

I thought you all might enjoy it:

Friday, December 07, 2012

Alexander and the Red Ribbon Year

I love Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.  Poor Alexander - nothing goes right for him.  He even has to wear his railroad train pajamas and he hates his railroad train pajamas.  When he goes with his brothers to buy shoes, everyone gets cool ones, but they only have boring uncool ones in Alexander's size.

It's a great book to read when things aren't going well.

My honey contest year was a little like Alexander's day.  When I entered my wax block, in each show the winning entry was poured into a design mold instead of a block.  It's much harder to pour a solid block but since most honey contest rules don't designate specifically a solid block with no design, then fancier looking entries always win.

So this was a red ribbon year.  I never won a blue ribbon in any of the many categories I entered.  And I should remember that there were plenty of people who entered honey contests this year who didn't get any ribbon at all, but it was still disheartening.

Usually one wants to improve, not go downhill!

Ordinarily I'd say, "Well, there's always next year," but I'm thinking I might skip entering contests next year and focus on honey production instead.

I'm pretty sure I've entered my last wax block, although I feel so drawn to that effort.  I didn't get to enter the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers' honey contest this year because I was in Ireland, and our honey contest rules do not allow a design mold poured block.   Here are our rules for wax block:

Class 7:  Wax block
1.      The block must be at least one inch thick but not more than two inches thick.
2.      The block must weigh a minimum of two pounds, (but no more than three pounds)
3.      The block should be smooth-surfaced and free of decorations or embellishments.

We worked really hard at Metro to develop a complete and comprehensive set of rules.  If your club needs guidelines for how to write honey contest rules, we ran ours past Robert Brewer (who trains most of our country's Welsh honey judges) and Keith Fielder before completing them.  Here's a link to the MABA honey contest rules.

So, we'll see next year.  Maybe I'll enter the wax block, but probably skip the honey entries for next year.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

GBA Newsletter

At the Georgia Beekeeping Association's fall meeting, Gina, my friend and president of Metro Atlanta Beekeepers, and I volunteered to write the monthly newsletter for the association.  We came up with a basic formula for what we wanted to include and began with our first issue in October this year.

We now have done three issues and are getting good feedback.  The issues are not only sent out to the registered GBA members, but also are posted here, if you'd like to see what we are doing.

Here's our plan for each month:

  • We feature a photo about beekeeping taken by a member at the beginning of each newsletter.
  • We ask the president of the association to make a short statement each month.
  • We try to feature an article of importance. 
    • The first month we featured the Georgia beekeeper of the year;
    • in November we featured an article from a well-known Georgia beekeeper, and 
    • this month we featured an article by Cindy Bee, a nationally known beekeeper who recently left Georgia to move to Maine 
  • We try to come up with a beekeeping tip or a piece of interesting bee information from ApiNews or some other source
  • We feature a funny beekeeping adventure from one of our members
  • We ask one bee club in the state each month to write up what their club is doing, what speakers they've had that they particularly liked, etc.
  • We try to put in about three quotes that are about beekeeping
  • Finally, we beg people to send us articles, photos, and informative items
We figured that if we had a basic plan, then we wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel each month.  We ask everyone only to write a paragraph or two to take the pressure off.  However, most people write us more than that.  

So far, so good....but this is only the third month!  We have gotten pretty good feedback so far and I'm having a great time working with Gina.

I've never done a newsletter before.  It's a lot of work.  Literally, we pushed "Send" today to send out the December issue, and Gina said, "Whew.  Ok, now what are we going to do for January?"  And it will take that long to get enough articles and information to do our next issue.

We're hoping our newsletter will help promote beekeeping in Georgia and maybe up the membership of the state organization (it only costs $15 to be a member of the GBA).  I've noticed that the presidents of the three bee clubs we have featured so far are not members of GBA!  

We're open to ideas or suggestions.  If you go to visit the site and read the newsletter, let me know if you have any feedback or thoughts about how it could be even better.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Asters in December

It's December - usually in years before Global Warming, we would actually have cold weather.  The supposed first freeze date in Georgia is generally November 15.  So far this year, as last year and the more recent warm years, we haven't had a freeze yet.

The temperature dipped into the 30s at least two nights, but still was two degrees above freezing.  The problem for bees is that if they fly out of the hive, it is usually to relieve themselves.  There isn't food to be had.

However, walking today I came upon an aster blooming happily and covered with bees!

There are beekeepers all over Virginia Highlands in Atlanta where I live.  I just hope these joyful bees are mine!

For more on Global Warming, here's a TED talk:

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