Archive | June, 2009

The Day of the Swarm

30 Jun

This beekeeping thing is endlessly cryptic.

Take yesterday, for example, when bees from the Ann Hive swarmed TWICE and yet due to a clipped queen, remain stuck in our backyard.

Alex tells the dramatic tale of exodus and return…


The Summer Nectar Series

21 Jun

Just before the heat of summer in Albuquerque, lavender and blue borage flow like a speakeasy still.

Get a bee-friendly planting guide for your area

The summer gorge

The summer gorge

Bee Sting: You gotta know when to fold ’em

16 Jun

My first minute in the hive, I was stung.

It’s an otherwise innocuous day, the first after a long string of late nights launching this new website. The first day in weeks I’ve had a chance to nurture myself or my hives. But something wasn’t right in the Ann Hive.

Perhaps they’re crowded or hot or moody, but whatever they are it’s not desirous of my presence in their lives today. First the sting, then head-butting, and finally a low threatening hum.

And that’s when I walked away.

So instead of an update on the quite busy Ann Hive, a new colony this year from a B. Weaver nucleus, all I’ve got is this photo. It’s a tarantula hawk wasp, the beautiful blue NM state insect, capturing a wolf spider on my back porch. And if it’s stings we’re worried about, I ended up on the right side of my backyard bargain as the hawk wasp has one of the nastiest stings known to man.

Wasp vs. Spider

Wasp vs. Spider

Where the wild bees grow

9 Jun

Just past the cluster of roadrunners and lizards, not far from the Rio Grande bisecting Albuquerque, there’s a wild hive of honeybees.

The girls work quietly in an old cottonwood along the bosque bike trail near Paseo del Norte.




Bird of Paradise: Bee-Friendly & Xeric

8 Jun

Its gifts are double, this strange flowering bush-tree. It’s called Yellow Bird of Paradise ( Caesalpinia gilliesii) and it grows shockingly well in Albuquerque without much supplemental water which is a boon for city-kept bees.

Currently, my girls are harvesting both nectar and pollen from Caesalpinia gilliesii like sincere clowns in a circus display. Some dangle and bob from long red stamens plucking what pollen they may. Others, more aggressive perhaps, dive straight in and deep where nectar lies at the bottom of petals the color of egg yolk.

Harvesting nectar from the yellow bird of paradise bush

Harvesting nectar from the yellow bird of paradise bush

Langstroth + Top Bar = A Very Confused Bee Hive

1 Jun

This here’s a little tale about how we supered our top bar hive. Yep, I hear the purists cringing and the aesthetes too. And they’re right — we’ve got a Frankenstein on our hands.

All super-ed up and ready to grow

All super-ed up and ready to grow

Why did we do it?

The Kerry hive is full beyond belief — every bar is packed with honey, pollen, and fresh worker brood. No matter how many bars I harvest, the girls are drawing more within a short week or two and showing no signs of a slow down. It’s a full house.

So, rather than fight the gift of a madly productive hive, we’re rolling with it.

How did we do it?

First, let me admit it’s all my partner’s idea.

He’s obsessed with Langstroth hives and secretly bought a couple to “experiment with.” Next thing I know, I hear myself saying it’s OK to add Langstroth honey supers to a top bar hive which, were I sober or not in love with him, I’d have thought the most perverse of sins.

So here’s what we did:

  1. Remove one bar from the back of the hive
  2. Cut spacers about 3/8 inch (enough to allow “bee space”)
  3. Put spacers between bars at the back of the hive
  4. Place an empty super on top of the spaced bars at the back of the hive
  5. To provide evenness for a cover, place an empty super at the front of the hive (there’s no space yet between the bars underneath this super)
  6. Place a cover on top of both supers

And here’s the photo essay version…

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