Archive | May, 2012

There’s a Virgin Queen in My Pocket: A Photo Essay

25 May

The queen bee’s gone missing. And all the tell-tale signs are there: no brood, a restless wings-spread stance, and an anxious hum when you open the colony. I’ve got to give this otherwise strong hive a new brood mare, pronto.

Last night, I scored a virgin queen from Zia Queen Bee Co but night’s no time to install a queen. So Queen Elizabeth and I spent the night together chastely waiting for sunlight and attempting to stay warm.

Keeping the queen warm in my pocket til I can take her home

The queen spent the night in a sock on a shelf 6 inches above my head

This morning before my 9 a.m. meeting, I installed Good Queen Bess in the lonely hive. And now my job is to wait 3-4 weeks for her to:

  1. Engage in a productive sky orgy
  2. Return safely and start laying
  3. Be deemed acceptable by the colony

In the meantime, nature doesn’t need any meddling from me.

Anatomy of a queen cage

The chicken wire keeps our chickens away from the hive

I hope to see something like this: Fresh bee eggs on black foundation with spring pollen nearby

UPDATE 6/14/12: Success! The queen was successfully mated and is laying a monster batch of brood as we speak. View photos if you’re curious.


A Happy Birthday Bee Swarm

11 May

For almost a year now, this hive has stood silent in my backyard. Today, just in time for my birthday, we caught a wayward swarm (likely from my other hive)  and installed the girls all snuggly into their new home.


A gorgeous swarm in the neighborhood

Our swarm transfer process


Exposing their Nasonov glands to waft a “homing” pheromone

For more on technique, see:

Ideas for Beautiful Honey Packaging

7 May

I won’t lie: Beautiful honey packaging matters more to me than it should.

“Why are we spending $80 on labels?” my husband asked. “We don’t even sell our honey!” And he’s right. Our 1040 reads a fat zero on the “Honey Income” line but, I might argue, if the IRS measured quality of life, mine would skyrocket every time I bottle a jar of honey. This weekend I harvested 2 gallons of honey from my Nob Hill hive, and the bottling process was pure pleasure.

My honey jars, inspired by the Chicago Honey Co-op

If you’re an aesthete like me, or if you aim to sell your honey, here are a few ideas for inspiration and sourcing.


Beeline honey jars

Beeline cylinder jars

Abella’s custom jars

Concept by Ah&Oh

Chicago Honey Co-op

Classic hexagon revisited

Honey trio by Bee Raw

Jar Sources

For interesting jars, consider alternative glass sources like candle jars or salve jars. Here are a few low-cost options to move beyond the plastic honey bear. Click an image to find the product page.

Tall French square

Candle bottle

Blue straight jar

Black lid straight jar

Unusual round jar

Tall cylinder jar

Find a few more ideas at:

Label Sources