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Bee-Friendly Gardening: How to Spray (If You Must)

10 Mar

Spring is here! For many gardeners, this means spraying clouds of herbicides and pesticides that can kill or weaken neighborhood bees. Fancy a cool drink of Round-up, anyone?

Here’s how you can minimize damage to neighborhood bees if you absolutely must spray chemicals in your yard or garden.
Bee Friendly Gardening

Of course, this won’t help with a new kind of garden evil — neonicotinoids — but every little bit helps. Even better, pull weeds instead of spraying and keep everyone healthy, happy, and safe.

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The Gift of Honey

21 Dec

Happy holidays, fellow beekeepers, readers, and honey lovers! Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing your experiences here on my site. Here’s to 2012 supporting healthy hives full of rich floral honey to share with friends, family and the peanut butter-honey sandwich eaters in your life.

My niece Ella sends her thanks.

Ella making peanut butter-honey sandwiches with "Aunt Coco" honey.

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

Let them eat quiche

28 Apr

A lady never forgets to bring quiche when out checking her bee hives.

Under the great cottonwood Let them eat quiche
Inside the Jerry hive Beekeeping Cat

Take the Albuquerque beekeeping survey

28 Mar

A great idea came out of yesterday’s packed beekeeper’s meeting… a beekeeping survey.

Take the survey now

Only 16 questions, the survey is designed to gain some insight into the typical practices of beekeepers in Albuquerque. Please encourage all local beekeepers to participate!

Huge thanks to everyone for sharing your experience and insight.

Beekeeping in Poland (and other tales of my sudden demise)

27 Dec

Poof! Like a hive intent on new horizons, I disappeared this autumn for a long vacation in E. Europe. Some might call it a honeymoon, but my man and I preferred to call it an exploration.

Among the things ingested both visually and orally on our 6 week sabbatical (honeymoon? never!) were these sweet hives at the edge of the primeval Białowieża forest. Technically, they’re not on the protected UNESCO land but rather on the former palace grounds of Polish princes and Russian tsars.

bialowieza honeybees

Honeybees at the edge of the Bialowieza Forest in Poland

Though we didn’t see evidence of this hot new beekeeping revival or these sexy little rustic hives on our drives through the country, we saw backyard hives everywhere. Really, everywhere. Tiny villages in the rolling green countryside invariably had at least one local beekeeper selling “miod.”

At Białowieża, we bought honey mixed with propolis which is a thick sour-ish affair that my better half enjoyed deeply.

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

Swarming Action?

9 Mar

Le bons temps roulant unseasonably early this year and my new girls have issued a license to swarm.

Here’s the scene at the Kerry hive around midday yesterday:

We opened the hive yesterday for the first time since Bill closed ’em up last Fall and removed some honey to curb their enthusiasm for swarming. Perhaps that wee bit o robbing and some rain today will check their wayward inclinations.

Work it, girls! How to manage a top bar hive

8 Jun

This is one of the best folksy walk-throughs I’ve read yet describing the process of inspecting a top bar hive. For newbeeks, it’s like that doddering professor who actually knows what he’s talking about:

If the entrance holes are at one end, I puff a small amount of smoke at the entrance, and wait perhaps a minute. If a good honeyflow is on and the weather is good, smoke probably would not be necessary with my Italian bees but I use a little anyhow. Some smoke is puffed underneath the arching top covers in case paper wasps have started a nest under the tin. Next I remove the covers and the strip that covers the rear half of the notches in my tb’s which lets me see how far the bees have drawn out comb. If the bees seemed to be alarmed because of inclement conditions in which I might need to work or some other factor, most of the notches can be kept covered . Continue reading

Bee porn (and a story too)

20 May

by Chris from Beautiful BokehSplendid shots by a photographer whose friend invited her to snap away at his hive. Incidental eyebrow stinging optional.

Splitting the Hive

Our friend Jason has a beekeeping hobby. Yesterday he invited us to come watch him “split the hive” and even though we weren’t 100% sure what that meant, we were pretty sure we’d get to see a beehive up close. We couldn’t resist. When we got there, he and the rest of the hive team (his mom and a cool bee guru friend of theirs) were all decked out in serious bee-garb which was a little off-putting. We were told we’d be ok as long as we didn’t wear black (which for us is actually really hard, but we found some white shirts and were feeling pretty brave). We got briefed that the way to survive being around a hive without protection is to wear white and move very slowly, and remain calm even when they come buzzing around you. No sweat.