Monthly Archives: September 2010

It’s amazing what a little (okay a lot) of rain can do…

After a very hot and dry August, September has seen a higher than normal amount of rain due to some tropical storms in the Gulf working their way up to central Texas. When we left for India and France on August 31st, everything was brown and dry, but after a few short weeks of good rain, Austin is green again and all the plants are taking the opportunity to bloom once more.

Everything is green again...

The girls are also taking advantage of this new nectar flow and have drawn out comb in the 3rd super and have filled it almost all with brood. This is the super I added right before our trip so in three weeks they have drawn out comb on 8 new frames and already have capped brood.

The 4th super is now a mix between brood and honey with the 5th and 6th supers entirely honey. I really don’t want to add a 7th super on the hive which would effectively make the hive taller than me. Instead, I’m going to take advantage of this nectar flow and harvest some more honey next weekend.

Last inspection I also noted a lot of white pollen being stored in the hive and was curious about its source. We think we have solved this mystery. Bind Weed is everywhere now and upon closer inspection of the blooms, we noticed lots of white pollen on the tips of the stamen.

Bind Weed

Our closer inspection also turned up lots of bees who are quite taken with this plant.

Bees love Bind Weed

All in all, this hive has totally exceeded my expectations for my first year as a beekeeper, and I’m hoping for a good fall so that Large Marge and the girls will be prepared for the upcoming winter months.

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Pollen Analysis – Breakdown

I meant to post this earlier, but here is the official breakdown of pollen in the honey sample I sent in.

Pollen Taxa Count %
ASTERACEAE (sunflower-type) 1 0.5%
BORAGINACEAE (borage) 1 0.5%
FABACEAE (legumes) 1 0.5%
LAMIACEAE (mint) 2 0.9%
Lagerstroemia (crepe-myrtle) 162 75.3%
Ligustrum (privet) 17 7.9%
LILIACEAE (lily family) 7 3.3%
Melilotus (clover) 3 1.4%
Prosopis (mesquite) 20 9.3%
Unknown pollen 1 0.5%
Totals 215 100%  



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Pollen Analysis Results

I received my pollen analysis from Dr. Bryant this morning, and I was a bit shocked. It turns out the girls love the crepe-myrtles. Austin had great rains starting last fall into early summer, and I will say the crepe-myrtles had amazing blooms this year. I just never saw any bees on them. We have several in our yard and while I saw the occasional bee buzzing around the blooms, I just assumed they were not a major source of pollen or nectar.

Here is some of the technical information from the report:

Category I: contain less than 20,000 grains/10 g.  Often, honey in this category represents samples that have been pressure-filtered, honey from floral sources that produce little pollen, honeys that were partly produced by sugar-feeding bees, or honey that has been adulterated by adding high-fructose syrup.  Usually, honeydew honey samples also fall into this first category.  Pollen concentration counts in Category II: contain between 20,000-100,000 grains/10 g and indicates the honey has come from normal floral sources.  Category III: pollen concentration values range from 100,000-500,000 grains/10 g and represent floral sources that are high pollen producers or indicate that some of the comb storage cells containing pure pollen may have been mixed with the extracted honey.  Category IV: includes pollen concentrations between 500,000-1,000,000 grains/10 g.  That category along with honey in Category V: (containing pollen concentrations of more than 1,000,000 grains/10 g) indicate honey that is produced from a few different floral sources that are extremely rich in pollen (i.e., Myosotis sylvatica, Cynoglossum officinale).

Here is the official summary:

Your honey is an excellent example of a “Unifloral Honey” because it contains a dominant pollen type in the amount of 81%.  For a unifloral honey, the International Bee Commission states you must have at least one pollen type in a percentage greater than 45%.  The pollen concentration value of 35,650 pollen grains per 10 grams of honey is low, but it is within Category 2, which is in the range dominated by many Unifloral Honey samples. Because crepe-myrtle pollen is fairly large, much of it would normally be removed during a bee’s flight back to the hive.  This phenomenon results in a low pollen concentration value in honey produced from the nectar of certain taxa, such as crepe-myrtle.

In addition to this honey being an excellent example of a Unifloral crepe-myrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.) honey, it also contains a small amount of nectar from another two sources, mesquite (Prosopis sp.), and privet (Ligustrum sp.).  There are also a few other pollen types represented in this sample, which might reflect very minor foraging activity of your bees on other flowers such as those of clover (Melilotus sp.), some species of mint (LAMIACEAE the genus of which I cannot be certain since many mint types produce very similar pollen), and some species of plant in the lily family (Fig. 1).  The lily pollen is very similar to the pollen of yucca (Yucca sp.) or crow poison (Nothoscordum sp.), but there are other pollen types that are nearly identical and thus without further work I could not be certain of the precise species that is represented.  Overall, this is and excellent example of a good, unifloral crepe-myrtle honey.


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Top bar hive vs. Langstroth (I’ve tried both and here’s my verdict) (via mistress beek)

Back in August, I posted an opinion that I thought Langstroth hives were probably better for beginner beekeepers, but as I have never used a Top Bar Hive, it was based purely on what I had read about them. Mistress Beek has used both and has an excellent summary on how she rates the two that I think is great.

Top bar hive vs. Langstroth (I've tried both and here's my verdict) Forget beekeeping ideology, I’m a pragmatist. And here’s what I’ve come to realize about the benefits and drawbacks of top bar and Langstroth bee hives. Download the PDF version with more notes Characteristic Top Bar Hive Langstroth Notes Easy on your back A TBH is a dream for anyone with a back problems. Hive management To me, TBH requires more time to manage due to frameless combs and non-moveable boxes. Ventilation Lang hives make better use o … Read More

via mistress beek

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Additional Worker Bee Honey Art for the People

I had a few concept designs created, and while I ultimately chose the one I thought would look the best on an actual jar of honey, the other designs were still amazing. I’ll most likely use them for posters and t-shirts, but I thought I would share the Worker Bee Honey love.

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Introducing Worker Bee Honey

I wanted a cool and distinct label for my honey, but I have zero skills as an artist. I had all these ideas in my head on what I wanted though, and the extremely talented Essi Zimm was able to take my ideas based on old Russian propaganda posters and making it a reality.


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Pollen Analysis

For those that are interested in getting a pollen analysis done on your honey, here is the information you need. I just sent off a sample today, and I’ll post the results when I get them.

Pollen extraction and analysis of pollen from honey $50/sample
This includes extraction of pollen from honey, pollen concentration values, a CD of photographs of key pollen types found in the sample, and a complete analysis of the recovered pollen data including probable geographical region where the honey was produced and a list of the primary nectar sources. We generally examine 200-400 pollen grains per sample. When appropriate, we will provide verification documents for export, and interpretations based on pollen coefficient values for the primary taxa present. We generally use 10 grams of honey from each sample but prefer to have additional honey available should we need to reprocess a sample. Therefore, we suggest sending approximately 30-50 grams of honey per sample.

Send sample to:

Vaughn M. Bryant, Professor of Anthropology
Director, Palynology Laboratory
Department of Anthropology
Texas A&M University (TAMU 4352)
College Station, TX  77843-4352

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Post-Vacation Hive Check

After two weeks out of the country, I had a chance yesterday to check in on the girls and see how they are doing. I had added an empty super to the hive before we left to be on the safe side. There was some comb drawn out but nothing significant. Everything else looked pretty normal but I did notice a huge increase in the amount of pollen being stored.

Unlike the pollen in the spring and early summer, this pollen is very white. I’d be interested to know what plants are in bloom right now that has white pollen. Austin did have a massive amount of rain last week, so I’m wondering if all the rain lilies are the source of this pollen. My only concern is that they seem to be using cells formally for brood to store this pollen in. There was also a reduction in the number of queen cells as well which is a good sign. At the end of the day, I just have to trust that they know best.

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Chocolate Bees!

We just returned from a two week vacation to India and France. Our last 5 days were spent in Paris. Since Paris has a huge beekeeper population, I was hoping to find some evidence of hives while we explored the city, but I did not have any luck.

However, I did not leave empty handed because of a trip to Patrick Roger Chocolatier. He is known for having amazing window displays made entirely of chocolate, and it was almost like he knew I was coming because his current display is all about the bees.

Patrick Roger Chocolatier

Giant Chocolate Hive

Chocolate Bees

Chocolate Bees on Comb

Chocolate Bees

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