Monthly Archives: May 2011

Ramona likes to mix it up

Now that I have two hives, it is interesting to see how each one has its own personality and quirks. Like most first borns, Marge is very organized and responsible. Most of her frames were dedicated to one purpose be it brood, honey, or pollen. As the second born, Ramona is more of a free spirit and not so orderly. Take the frame below which is a combination of pollen, brood and honey.

Frame of Pollen, Brood, and Honey

Frame of Pollen, Brood, and Honey

A good majority of her frames are like this although she does have 2-3 dedicated completely to brood. If she didn’t have those, I’d be a little worried of having a queen that didn’t lay well, but the hive appears to be growing albeit more slowly than I would like.


Filed under beekeeping

The Art of Hive Placement

Fellow Austin blogger and gardener extraordinaire Pam Penick recently visited an amazing Dallas garden. While the overall garden is pretty amazing, the photo that grabbed my attention was this herb “bed” complete with bedside tables. It is a very cute idea although as they add supers to the hive, they will look less like bedside tables and more like bedside armoires.

Here is a closer look at the beehive bedside tables complete with a doily and small potted succulent.


Filed under beekeeping, Fun

There can be only one…

So after inspecting the hive on this hot and humid day, Ramona is still the only queen I can find in the hive.


It is hard to tell without watching her move around, but this photo is the best one so far where you can see her bad leg (upper right front). It is still a mystery of what happened to the supersedure cell, but at the end of the day, the hive has accepted Ramona gimp leg and all.

I’d like to see a bit more brood in the hive, but on the frames where there is capped brood, the pattern is excellent.

Brood in Ramona's Hive

I also removed the top feeder today. It didn’t look like they took any of the honey/water mixture I added last week so I’m taking that as a sign they are getting enough in the wild. Large Marge’s hive is actually filling out the top super with honey so the rain we finally got must have kicked off a nectar flow of some sort.

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Filed under beekeeping, queens

Worker Bee Honey T-Shirt

Last year, I had a bunch of t-shirts made with the artwork I had done for my honey label. I’ve since had several folks ask where they could get a t-shirt of their very own so I’ll soon be placing another order. The t-shirts are cheaper the more I have made so I thought I’d see if any of my blog readers would like one. Let me know if you are interested and once I get a final count, I’ll have a better idea on price. I think last time I got them around $15-20 a shirt. We can figure out size and such later.

Update: If we get 25 shirts made, it is a straight $10 per shirt. Since we always have folks wanting one, we are just going to go ahead and order 25. If you are interested, please let me know size and style based on these links.

Unisex or Women’s cut.

Here are some photos so you can imagine how dead sexy you’ll look.

Worker Gitanjali

Worker Karl


Filed under equipment, Fun

What big eyes you have…

In my opinion, there aren’t too many cute insects, but I think bees make the cut.

What big eyes you have!

It always boggles my mind when people mistake wasps for bees.

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Filed under beekeeping, Fun

I hate hive beetles.

Large Marge’s hive (if she is still in there) has tons of hive beetles.

Hive beetles everywhere

Luckily, I don’t see them in the actual hive. I think the girls must drive them up into the outer cover and keep them up there where they are easy to squish. I still have a bunch of Beetle Blasters so I may put a few into the top super this weekend to see what happens.

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Filed under beekeeping, pests

Ramona Lives!

I was totally expecting to find a new queen in Ramona’s hive today after the discovery of the supersedure cell a few weeks ago. Not only was the supersedure cell completely gone, but Ramona was spotted and is alive and well.

Ramona is still alive

Does anyone else think that Ramona’s marking looks like a Rorschach ink blot? How does that make you feel?

I guess it is still possible there is another queen that I just missed, but I looked pretty carefully. Someone is at least laying well.

Ramona Frame of Brood

I’ll check again next week but there were no more supersedure cells in the making so it looks like the hive decided they were happy with Ramona after all.


Filed under beekeeping, queens

Round Rock Honey Beekeeping Class

Today I went out to Round Rock Honey to help teach an Intro to Beekeeping Class. I took the full class back in 2009 which really gave me the hands on experience I wanted to make sure beekeeping was for me. For folks interested in keeping bees, this one day class will run down the essentials of beekeeping as well as suiting up and visiting a hive. Round Rock Honey often runs a $39 special via Groupon so I recommend keeping an eye out for this deal.


Filed under beekeeping, education

Latest Honey Pollen Analysis

I got the results back from my latest pollen analysis, and it was much different from the first batch of honey I sent last year.

The honey you submitted contains a large variety of pollen types many of which occur in very small amounts, suggesting that those floral sources were important but minor nectar contributors to the honey.  The pollen concentration value of 99,250 pollen grains/10 grams of honey is high but is within the honey placed in Category II, which is the category generally attributed to most unifloral and mixed floral honey produced throughout the world. 

The relative pollen count of this sample is dominated by various members of the rose family (ROSACEAE), and elm (Ulmus).  Other significant nectar sources include blackberries (Rubus), and members of the buttercup family (RANUNCULACEAE) that include a number of different genera including Clematis.  Some of the other minor pollen types, and by inference some of the nectar sources, include Texas persimmon, honeysuckle, crepe-myrtle, wild plum, and sunflowers.  Overall, your honey is classified as a Multifloral Wildflower Honey.

Pollen Taxa


ASTERACEAE (ragweed-type)  


ASTERACEAE (sunflower-type)


BRASSICACEAE (mustard family)


Clematis (clematis)


Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon)


Fraxinus (ash)


Lagerstroemia (crepe-myrtle)


LILIACEAE (lily family)


Liquidambar (sweetgum)


Lonicera (honeysuckle)


Melilotus (clover)


Prunus (plum, peach, cherry)


Quercus (oak)


RANUNCULACEAE (buttercups)


ROSACEAE (rose family)


Rubus (blackberry, dewberry)


Salix (willow)


Sambucus (elderberry)


Ulmus (elm)


Vitis (grape)


Unknown pollen



Filed under beekeeping, pollination

Where in the World is Large Marge?

I opted not to check Ramona’s hive today. I figured if there was a newly emerged queen, disturbing the hive at this point was probably not a good idea. I just topped off the feeder and decided to take a quick peek in Large Marge’s hive.

I found a disturbingly high number of hive beetles on the underside of the telescoping top cover which was initially concerning. After going medieval on their tiny asses, I took off the screened inner cover to start my inspection. The 6th super is still only partially drawn out but still full of bees. With this current drought, it will probably remain like this for the rest of the summer, but I don’t want to remove it to avoid crowding in the hive.

The 5th super is now all honey. It looks like the girls decided to move all the honey to this super which just reinforces my decision that queen excluders are a waste of time and just disrupt the natural order of things. No sign of any beetles in this super which makes me think the girls drove them up to the top cover.

The big shock came inspecting the 4th super. It isn’t the greatest picture because we weren’t expecting to see a new queen and had to hastily get this picture.

New Queen

I last saw Large Marge on March 3rd during the first inspection of this spring. At the time she was laying well and the hive was full of bees. I’m not sure what happened. I guess it is possible that Large Marge is still in the hive and in either the 1st or 2nd super, but I’m not about to tear the hive apart looking for her. I also don’t think the hive swarmed because I think I would have noticed if half the bees in the hive absconded.

I didn’t inspect the hive any further after seeing the new queen. I’ll wait a week and do a more thorough inspection next week when I open up both hives.

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Filed under beekeeping, queens