Archive | August, 2010

Randy Oliver “Scientific Beekeeper” is coming to NM!

23 Aug

It’s time for the annual summer gathering of New Mexico beekeepers — this weekend in Santa Fe.

  • WHO: Randy Oliver from
  • WHERE: The Church of Christ in Santa Fe (map) NOTE: This is not a church-affiliated event but they’re generous enough to share the space with us.
  • WHEN: Saturday Aug 28 from 10am-5pm
  • COST: $20 for NMBKA members | $30 otherwise

In addition to Randy Oliver, we’ll have presentations and video from local beekeepers as well as Q&A.

See you there!

Psst… want to carpool from Albuquerque?


Bee gear I love

20 Aug

Oh it’s only a small tilt into obsession. And my husband has promised to warn me when I teeter toward the abyss. Or at least when I start to carry the theme too far — Cow Christmas anyone?

So until then, here are a few handcrafted items for bee-lovers that I personally adore. Or at least lust after, for owning them all might trigger my man’s radar.

"Wonky Bee" tee

Bee mugs

Custom beehive cards

Wall decals for the kids' room

5 things I learned from Jürgen Tautz’s “Buzz About Bees”

18 Aug

It’s a book that will change your perspective about honeybees.

Though the American title, “Buzz About Bees” seems flippantly trendy, Jürgen Tautz’s book is loaded with data-backed analysis of bee behavior and insight into the latest genetic research. It’ll make you think differently too about the aggregate behavior of another social species, Homo sapiens.

Buzz About Bees: The Biology of a Super Organism

5 Things I Learned

The hardcover book is lushly illustrated and packed with mind-blowing information to fuel a beekeeper’s endless thirst for understanding. Here are just a few of my favorite revelations.

1. Bees don’t form hexagonal comb.

Wax, like glass, is a liquid. Once the bees build comb, they melt it slightly and that’s how it naturally forms hexagons much like adjoining soap bubbles do.

2. Bees turn off color vision on the way back home.

Bees use color vision selectively, turning it off to conserve energy when it’s superfluous. Who needs color on the way home, for example? Though they view objects in color when flying out to forage, they switch to B&W for the rote journey home.

3. Bees can sting each other without dying.

Apparently, it’s mammalian skin that thwarts the honeybee stinger. Honeybees die after stinging a human because their barbed stinger can’t be extracted easily but honeybees can sting each other as well as other insects without such dire consequences.

4. The honeybee waggle dance is NOT about visuals.

It’s about vibration. When honeybees dance, they’re actually sending vibrational communication through the medium of the comb. In fact, the front face of honeycomb is thickened slightly to enhance the network’s transmission capacity.

5. “Mass-orienting” flights are really practice mating flights.

Those gorgeous afternoon displays are not actually bumbling baby bees learning how to fly. Rather, they are apparently an ongoing drill of  the workers that would accompany a virgin queen on her mating flight. Interestingly, these mass-orientations only occur in hives with a queen.

Check it out for yourself: Buzz About Bees: The Biology of a Superorganism

The Bee Killer

9 Aug

Like a super-powered sniper, Mallophora fautrix fixates on my Russian sage in full bloom. She waits patiently, not for the nectar, but for my honeybees that farm like a thousand seasonal workers, bobbing up and down in the purple blooms oblivious to the fact that they’re being watched. Grateful for the monsoon season’s bounty.

Unexpectedly, the bee killer swoops in like a hawk and snatches a bee mid-air!


Whether the bee is dispatched mercifully, I don’t know, but Mallophora fautrix soon settles in the crook of a nearby vine to suck the honeybee’s fluids like a warm mango lassi on a blazing summer day. She luxuriates, wickedly sipping for nearly an hour on her prey. And then drops the carcass to the ground before resuming her ominous vigil.

Welcome Local iQ readers!

5 Aug

Thanks for reading the beekeeping article in this week’s Local iQ. Welcome to my personal beekeeping website.

Interested in Albuquerque beekeeping? Here are some resources:

Or, if you’re just looking for a website, here’s my consulting firm.

My glamour girls featured in Local iQ

5 Aug
Photo by Joy Godfrey

Photo by Joy Godfrey

Oh my! Me and the 40,000 vixens that call my backyard home are bashfully giddy about our feature in this week’s Local iQ. If it looks like we (me and the bees) are in love with each other, it’s because we are! Over the past 3 years, beekeeping has become one of the simple joys in my otherwise high-tech life.

“Bees are a reminder of our interdependence on one another,” Foster said in a recent interview. She elaborated that having bees in her life has changed the way she looks at nature. “I notice the rhythms now.”

Read the full article at Local iQ

Thanks to writer Kay Vinson and photographer Joy Godfrey for checking out my girls and learning more about Albuquerque’s amazing community of local beekeepers.