Monthly Archives: March 2011

Bread Makes You Fat?!?

With the new package showing up in a few weeks, we are busy prepping the site and equipment for the new queen. As a huge fan of the Scott Pilgrim comic series (and the subsequent movie), the photography/artistic unit have been expending their energies drawing/inking/lettering the 7 evil exes on the hive supers. Here is a snap shot of the progress so far, and I’ll be adding photos in the upcoming weeks of the final results.

Queen Ramona Flower's New Hive

Obviously the new queen’s name will be Queen Ramona Flowers.

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Bees on Cross-Vine

This is the first year I’ve really noticed bees on our cross-vine.

Bees on Crossvine

We planted it because hummingbirds are really supposed to like it, but I don’t think I have really ever seen any sort of bird/insect interested in this plant until today. I’m glad something is taking advantage of it.

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They ain’t lying, dryer lint is super flammable…in your smoker

I was using newspaper as the initial ignition source in my smoker, but since I don’t actually receive a newspaper at home, it was always a pain remembering to pick one up when I was out and about. I decided to start saving all the lint from my dryer to see if would work well as an alternative to paper.

Dryer Lint Smoker Fuel

I’ve used it a few times now, and I think it works great. I also now believe all the stories about how if you don’t clean out your dryer vent on a regular basis, it is just a matter of time before your house ignites into a fireball of Downy freshness.


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Art Commission B Side

I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the opposite side of the Day of the Dead piece I commissioned from Cindy Raschke. Since the medium is basically one gigantic piece of paper-mâché, she painted both sides. I’m sad this side won’t be visible once the piece is hung, but it was a bonus I wasn’t expecting, and I wanted to share it.

Opposite Side of Art

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Lucky Number 7

Large Marge is an unstoppable egg laying machine. The girls have already filled out the 6th super I added two weeks ago which meant I had to add a 7th today. I’m getting worried that if they continue at this rate, I may need a ladder for my inspections. My second package of bees can’t get here soon enough so I can borrow some frames from Large Marge to help jump start the new hive and hopefully slow them down a bit.

I guess I need to start reading up on how to split a hive, but I’m also worried they are growing so fast that a swarm is inevitable. Anyone have any advice on next steps?


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Beekeeping meets Groupon

For those of you in the Austin area, Round Rock Honey has a Groupon available for a $39 dollar Intro to Beekeeping Class. I took this class in 2009 and really enjoyed it.

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These are some of my favorite things…

I love Day of the Dead art, so when I ran across a local Austin artist named Cindy “Crash” Raschke whose artwork also showcases this theme, I thought it would be really cool to combine beekeeping with the Day of the Dead and see what happened.

Day of the Dead Beekeepers

I just told Cindy I wanted some skeleton beekeepers, and she ran with it. I think the piece came out great, and I can’t wait to find the perfect place in my home to show off this sucker.


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A day of many firsts…

Even though I’m on day 10 of this nasty cold, I really didn’t want to wait another week to inspect the hive. Austin is bursting into bloom right now, and I didn’t want to be caught unprepared if the girls were preparing to swarm. So I donned my bee suit for the first spring inspection of my second year as a beekeeper.

The girls are pretty thirsty after hanging out in the hive for several months. We keep a bird bath partially filled with water that gives the bees a nice landing area to walk up to the water.

Bee Drinking Water

I took off the outer cover to see the girls looking up at me from the notch in the inner cover.

Peeking out of the inner cover

The top most super of the hive was all honey which I expected based on my last quick look a few weeks ago.

Full Frame of Honey

What I didn’t expect was the next super down to be pretty much all brood. Here is a frame that is partially filled with brood, but the other 7 frames had an even tighter brood pattern and filled the frames.

Partial Frame of Brood

It was at this point that the girls started getting a bit disturbed so the photography unit had to retreat to safety. I went on to inspect each frame all the way down to the bottom of the hive. It was here I discovered Large Marge on the 8th frame of the 1st super. So it good to know that she is still alive and laying well. I saw excellent brood patterns as well as eggs which means she is still going strong. I also didn’t see any queen cells which means, at least at this point, the girls aren’t planning on swarming.

I did notice that the bottom super was pretty much drawn comb without anything in it. Bees move up the hive during the winter so I was expecting this. I decided to swap the position of some of the supers to encourage them to use all the available space, and it is also supposed to discourage swarming. I also added a 6th super to give them more room to grow.

By the time I started putting the hive back together, the girls were really worked up which is not surprising since I had basically disturbed every section of the hive. At the point I was adding the 3rd super back onto the hive, my worst case scenario came true. Somehow, a bee had made its way under my veil and was buzzing around my face. I started moving away from the hive to a place where I could try and remove the bee, but she decided to go ahead and sting me behind my right ear. I got into the house to have the stinger removed and to make sure I didn’t have any allergic reaction. This is officially the first time I’ve been stung by anything in my life, so I wanted to play it safe.

After a few minutes, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to drop dead, so I put my veil back on and finished closing up the hive. This was a very memorable inspection, but overall, the hive appears to be strong and ready to take advantage of the spring nectar flow.

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Brushy Mountain Bee Farm Webinar

I’ve taken several webinars from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, and they have all been very informative. I received the information below on an upcoming webinar about something that is very topical for me as I’m starting my 2nd year as a beekeeper:

Year 2 – Build them up, keep them healthy, and produce honey
We will have a panel made up of beekeepers from different parts of the U.S. Each will discuss the steps they take coming out of winter to build the colonies. We will cover how to get the most from the colony while also keeping it healthy. Lets get ready for the coming year. Panelist include Kim Flottum (editor of Bee Culture Magazine) and Marygael Meister (hobby beekeeper in Denver, CO)
Title: Year 2 – Build them up, keep them healthy, and produce honey
Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Time: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST

The webinar is free; however, space is limited and advanced registration is required. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


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