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Bear Destroys Bee Hive

29 Oct

It was a rough week for these East Mountain honeybees. Located in bear country, their stores of sweet honey turned out to be irresistible Wednesday night.

Photos sent by TJ Carr.

How to Bear-Proof Your Apiary

Get more detailed photos and instructions at


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.

Bosque fire licks my beehive!

2 Jul

Fire licked so close this week to the beehive we manage for City Open Space that leaves on the cottonwood tree above were singed. Ouch!

It was a 5 acre fire that torched a chunk of the riverfront forest (that’s “bosque” if you’re from New Mexico) burning down the entire field of trees next to the beehive and starting a grassfire  just yards away. Driving up to the hive, once the area was open to access again, we had no idea what to expect — did the bees abscond? Did honeycomb just melt off its foundation?

Surprisingly, the girls were buzzing along seemingly oblivious to the smoldering forest and the hive itself was filled with combs of honey and worker brood. We sampled a buttery chunk of honey, half expecting it to taste like smoke but it was pure and warm and… to its proud keepers, perfect.

We packed up our gear soothed by this amazing survivor hive. And I swear, as we pulled away, the bees were bearding in the shape of the Virgin, like any other modern day miracle,

Yes, your pesticides are killing the bees.

10 Jun

It’s not that complicated really: If you spray your fields with pesticides, you kill the honeybees in our community.

Farmer Rasband sprays the fields.

Literally 10 yards from the hives

Piles of dead bees from pesticides earlier this spring

New bees dying on the landing board immediately after spraying

These photos were taken 10 minutes apart at hives in Albuquerque’s North Valley, near some of the poshest “country estates” in the city. Farmer Scott Rasband, owner of Rasband Dairy was out spraying his fields just yards from the beehives we manage as a public service for City Open Space who sells the honey to generate funds. The hives had already experienced a pesticide kill from Rasband’s spraying a couple weeks ago but 10 minutes after the spraying today, bees were perishing yet again on the landing board. Makes you wonder how he treats his cows, doesn’t it?

As I took the photo of Farmer Rasband, I attempted to puff up like a menacing Valkyrie but honestly, I just felt helpless and sad. Truly, to keep bees in these times is to live with a broken heart.

Chemical kill at one of the hives

Related articles:

Evidence That Pesticides Are Seriously Messing Up Our Honey Bees
USDA: Pesticides and the Honey Bee
Accountability: Pay Beekeepers When Pesticides Kill Their Bees
City Bees are healthier than country bees (because of pesticides)

Update 5/25/2012: It has taken almost 2 years, but today the City decided to require Rasband NOT spray herbicides or pesticides on this farm on Open Space lands.  Congratulations on the health of humans and bees nearby!

My new Serge Labesque hive

31 May

Ventilation is not what most new beeks consider when crafting their first bee hive. But that’s just what Sonoma beekeeper, and my personal favorite philosophe des abeilles, Serge Labesque recommends to keep your hives healthy.

After 2 seasons keeping bees, I couldn’t agree more. Even in the American Southwest, known for being dry as a bleached cattle bone, I find condensation, mildew, and even lichens each spring after opening our hives. To me, the girls don’t need more insulation, they actually need less.

In fact, a survey I conducted with local beekeepers in 2010 shows that nearly twice as many beeks winterize their hives by ensuring there’s adequate ventilation than by suffocating their dames with a downy blanket.

From the 2010 Albuquerque Beekeepers Survey

But Serge Labesque takes ventiliation to a whole ‘nother level by leaving his hive bodies unpainted, save for the joints. As he described at last year’s NM Beekeeping Summer Seminar, the idea is that unpainted wood can breathe, allowing the bees to have more control over ventilation. Here’s what Labesque’s hives look like.

And so voila! We’ve decided to go au naturel this season, leaving our new boxes unpainted. We simply bought unassembled hive bodies from Mann Lake, uncorked a bottle of champagne one Friday night and set to work.

Learn more:

Another bee kill in Albuquerque

10 Sep

This week, another local (and longtime) beekeeper was devastated by a massive kill in one of his strongest hives. If only bees could form a class action lawsuit…

This is the first of the bee kill from Sept 9th which continued into today the 10th. I have tried to find out who sprayed what where and will hopefully have some leads tomorrow. This hive WAS three stories with a brand new queen.. WAS… Better Living through Chemistry… .

A massive bee kill in Los Ranchos

A massive bee kill in Los Ranchos

Chemical Kill @ The Polski Hive?

7 Sep

Overnight, the Polski Hive seems to have been poisoned and just like last year’s bee massacre in July, it was sudden and excruciating to witness.

Apparently, pesticide poisoning is a neighborhood tradition.

The Bee Exploiters

29 Aug

Apparently, I’m not the only one.

The Bee Exploiters The Bee Exploiters
The Bee Exploiters
The Bee Exploiters

Mantis attacks my bee hive

28 Aug

Silence of the Honeybees

30 Jul

As we speak PBS is airing a documentary about colony collapse disorder, “Silence of the Honeybees.”

If you missed it, watch it online at