Monthly Archives: October 2010

Attack of the Zom-bees!

Last night was our 9th annual Halloween party, and Gitanjali and I decided to dress up as zom-bees.

In a fortuitous set of events, 4 other guests also dressed up as non-zombie bees which gave us a whole swarm at our party.

Then to make it even better, we had a friend show up as a bear…and we all know what happens then.

No honey for you, bear!

Happy Halloween!

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Bees love Blackfoot Daisy

What’s not to love about Blackfoot Daisy? It blooms all through the summer and fall, doesn’t need a lot of water, and actually smells like honey. It is no wonder the bees love it.

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The Elusive Pollen Frame

For weeks, I’ve been wanting to get either a photo or video of this one frame of multi-colored pollen that looks like stained-glass, and I was determined to make it happen this week.

Usually by the time I make it to the 3rd super where this frame is located, the girls are a bit worked up and the camera woman has to run to the house. The digital camera I have is old school, and you have to look through the view finder which is difficult while wearing a veil. I decided to try and get some video using my iPhone, but it is also difficult to operate while wearing gloves, but I managed to get some footage that isn’t terrible but not as focused as I wanted. Hopefully it conveys the variety of pollen that has been stored, and one of these days I’ll actually get a decent photo.

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This bee is huge. Right now, it is loving our fall aster which is a native Austin plant. It is so fuzzy I want to pet it, but I doubt it would appreciate the gesture.

Bumblebee on Fall Aster


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Beekeeping Class in Austin on November 6th

The Travis County Master Gardeners Association is a great resource for classes and seminars around gardening, lawn care, water harvesting, and now beekeeping has been added to the mix.

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Bees love our Antique Roses

We have a large variety of antique roses on our property and unlike hybrid roses you buy at the florist, these roses haven’t been bred to death to look a certain way with no hint of pollen or scent.

We followed this bee first trying to force its way into an unopened bud of Rosette Delizy.
Bee on Rosette Delizy

After an unsuccessful attempt on the Rosette Delizy, she decided that the Perle D’Or was more accessible.
Bee on Perle D'Or

Bee on Perle D'Or

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October 9th Hive Check

My in-laws are visiting from Mumbai, and I was happy to have a beautiful October day to take them out to the hive. Unfortunately, the girls were a bit defensive this morning so they had to move to a safe distance to watch and avoid getting buzzed. Usually, I can get a couple supers deep before the girls get annoyed, but today they started chasing away the visitors from the beginning.

Even though Austin is in bloom, I think we could use another round of rain to keep the nectar flow going. Not much done with the empty honey super I put back on the hive after last week’s harvest, but all the other supers have plenty of activity.

I’ve been noticing a lot more drone cells this week and last. I even saw a drone starting to emerge, but was unable to get a good picture. They will probably enjoy another month of easy living, but then the hive will kick all the drones out in November when the weather cools down. Enjoy it while you can boys.

I haven’t seen Large Marge in forever, but her egg laying pattern is still awesome and the girls are producing some beautiful frames of brood. They are also stocking away pollen, and I’m really going to try and get a picture next week of a frame filled with multi-colored pollen.

Since I couldn’t get a lot of photos of the hive this week, here are some pictures of bees enjoying the fall blooms here in Austin. These are the girls on some Frostweed.

Bees on Frostweed

Bee on Frostweed

Kidney Wood is also in bloom and is very attractive to honey bees.

Bee on Kidney Wood

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More clues on Colony Collapse Disorder

A joint research team between military scientists and¬†entomologists have identified a tag team combination of a fungus and a virus that are both present in collapsed colonies. It may not be the smoking gun, but I’m always glad to read that research continues and progress is being made.

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Fall Honey Harvest

The rains in August and September have made Austin green again and the fall nectar flow is on. I decided to do one last honey harvest before winter given the amount of available blooms that should be present at least for the month of October if not early November.

I was completely spoiled by using the bee escape for my first two harvests in early summer. For this harvest, I had two supers mostly filled with honey but wanted to mix and match frames to make sure I only took ones with completely capped honey so I had to use a bee brush to clear off the bees. By the end, they were not please with me at all. No stings, but a lot of angry buzzing around my head and the entire yard. I even had to put the chickens back in their coop in a full bee suit due to some unhappy girls.

I had two helpers for this harvest. The across the street neighbors have two young boys who were very interested in the process.

Even Harley wanted to share in the honey harvest and by sharing I mean making a bed out of my bee suit and gloves.

Harley wants to beekeep when she grows up

This honey was very different from the late spring/early summer harvest. From my previous post on the pollen analysis, the early honey (on the right) was primarily crepe myrtle, very light and clear, with a low viscosity. This harvest was a lot darker honey (on the left) and much more viscous with a richer flavor.

Dark fall honey vs light spring honey

There is a slight chance I’ll get some more honey if this flow continues, but either way, I had a great first year, and the next steps will be preparing the hive for the winter months.


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Former Jayhawk wins genius grant for her work with bees

I thought this was an interesting article.

Former Jayhawk wins genius grant for her work with bees.

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