Archive | February, 2009

Honeybee source by pollen color

25 Feb

Not sure why I haven’t found this until today:

The Oh-Niners

24 Feb

Gathering crocus pollen

Gathering crocus pollen

The Spring pollen rush is on!

“The accounts of the abundance of gold in that territory are of such extraordinary character as would scarcely command belief were they not corroborated by authentic reports of officers in the public service.”
President James Polk, 1848

And neither would I believe it if I didn’t witness with my very own eyes the overloaded pollen baskets on at least 40% of workers returning to the hive. Elm pollen, crocus pollen, and undoubtedly more which my undiscerning human eyes can’t yet parse.

Welcome to the boom, girls.


It’s spring feeding time

20 Feb

Spring feeding

Spring feeding

In the high dry desert of Albuquerque, it’s time for spring feeding. 

Our days can warm up to 60° but the nights remain precarious, often dropping to 25°. For the girls, it’s a rough time. Little is blooming and they’re close to running out of reserves.

So my bee mentor TJ recommends a bit of extra support in the form of a 1:1 sugar syrup fed until they stop drinking. I’ve added Honey B Healthy to the syrup, thinking that it can’t possibly hurt. The grateful critters are sucking up 16 oz a day.

We have Nasonov Action

16 Feb
Honeybee exposes her Nasonov gland

Honeybee exposes her Nasonov gland

Never has tail in the air looked so good.

Our new girls have officially accepted us, as evidenced by some Nasonov action on the landing board yesterday.

The Nasonov gland, hidden at the base of the abdomen, releases a special pheromone that calls forager bees back to the colony.  It’s essentially used to declare “Home, Sweet, Home” in case anyone’s confused or lost.

To me, it’s a sign the girls in the Kerry hive have decided to call us home.

The girls are here!

15 Feb

We inherited a new hive today and installed her facing east in the back of our garden.

The Kerry hive originally started by beekeeper Bill

Alex and Paul help set up the "Kerry" hive originally started by beekeeper Bill

She’s a robust hive of bees bred by B. Weaver, housed in a beautiful top bar hive of TJ and Bill’s design. Given the disheartening events of last season, we’re feeling damn lucky to have a merry band of Apis mellifera back in our lives again.

Ghosts be vanquished! As of 20 minutes ago, the “Kerry” hive (originally part of Bill’s hive duo called “Cash and Kerry”) is now safely installed near a patch of Russian sage and Goldenrod, pure bliss for bees come summer.

Their original keeper, Bill wrote a farewell in his Bee Log:

2-15-09: Sold hive with bees to Chantal and Alex. I know they will be great parents! I wish them well and anticipate good reports of  my girls making lots of honey for them. Go in peace, your beekeeper, Bill

Bill hands over the girls to Alex

Bill hands off the girls to Alex

Ready for Bee Day

14 Feb

Like a long awaited lover or maybe a flourless chocolate cake, our new hive arrives tomorrow morning. We’ve conned the whole family into helping us  prepare for Bee Day.

Pawlik paints the bee stand

Pawlik paints the bee stand

What’s killing the honeybees? The tragic ending to my first year keeping bees.

9 Feb

Five months later and with the promise of new bees arriving this weekend soothing me like a sweet low hum, I’m finally able to describe the tragic end of my first year of beekeeping.

The Bee Apocalypse

July 24 about 10 a.m., we noticed a massive exodus from the hive. This wasn’t an exuberant swarm though; this was thousands of dying bees crawling from the hive like zombies.

When we approached the hive, there were already thousands dead near the entrance. When I pulled out the bottom board, piles of bees fell to the ground. Clearly, the carcasses had been blocking the bees inside from moving between the comb.

Those on the ground crawling were clearly in great pain as they twitched and hopped amid rocks and mulch. Hundreds twitched around me at any given point in a ten foot radius around the hive. Continue reading

TJ’s Spring Bee Report

8 Feb

Albuquerque top bar bee sage TJ offers the following report: 

Poppies in my garden

Poppies in my Albuquerque garden

What’s blooming now?

  • The Globe Willow trees turned from yellow to green in the past week.
  • Anne C. noticed that the Silver Maple in her yard has bloomed and the bees are on it full time.
  • Wild mustard is in bloom. The bees will find it of course and spoil the early spring honey. Let the bees keep this first bit of honey.
  • I have dug up many dandelions. No blooms yet, but they will be out soon. Not good for the honey either.
  • Thousands of Oriental Poppies are up in my garden. Also bulbing plants are sprouting up. Lilac plants in my neighborhood are ready to blossom.

Still too dry for a good honey flow in the spring. Forecast is for rain and snow for the next several days. Could come in time.

When is swarm season in Albuquerque?

Swarm season (in Abq) usually starts around Good Friday/Easter.

Time for spring feeding

Not everyone feeds their bees, but now is a good time for supplemental feed. Try sugar water at 1:1. After the weather is warmer, try four parts of water to one part of sugar (same ratio as nectar), as this causes the queen to start laying a bit early for strong spring buildup.