Monthly Archives: September 2012

Keeping Bees in Towns & Cities

Luke Dixon is a London beekeeper whose new book Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities was just published.

In addition to giving the basics on starting a hive, he talked to 23 other beekeepers around the world about their experiences and added it to his book. I was one of the lucky ones he picked so if you buy a copy or see it in your local book store, open it up to page 148 to see my smiling face. I guess now I can just sit back and wait for the movie offers to come rolling in.

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The Queen is Dead! Long Live the Queen!

Last week’s requeening of Rue’s hive got postponed due to some much needed rain in the Austin area. We decided to requeen Friday after work in the early evening. The thought was even though we’d have more field bees coming back to the hive for the evening, that would also play in our favor as the girls would have to settle down and return to the hive when the sun went down.

Rue’s hive is currently six medium supers, and of course we didn’t find her until we got down to the first super on the second to last frame. By that time, the girls were really worked up, and I felt I was touring a banana factory with all the alarm pheromone in the air.

My initial thought was the hive had requeened itself like Large Marge did, but the queen I found was marked so it was the original queen installed in April. I do think she was perhaps starting to fail as I found more empty cells in frames than I would have expected as I went through each super. She also didn’t seem to be moving as quickly as I’ve seen in the past.

Here’s a shot of the stingers I found in my gloves after the inspection.

Honey Bee Stingers

I picked up the new queen this morning and installed her in the hive. I wasn’t about to open up the hive again, so I’m trying the method of just placing the queen cage on the bottom board through the front entrance. I tied a piece of twine to the cage so I can easily pull it out in a week to see if the queen has been released.

Now I just have to sit back and wait. Other than checking on the queen cage, I’m going to leave this hive alone for at least two weeks. Hopefully this new queen will produce some gentler bees.

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What’s going on behind that capped cell?

During the last honey extraction, while inspecting the frames to kill any small hive beetles still lurking about, I noticed one lone capped brood cell in a frame otherwise filled with capped honey. I carefully removed the developing bee since I didn’t want it in the honey.

Once the cell has been capped, the metamorphosis is well on its way and it is very obvious now that this is a bee in the making.

Honey Bee Larva

Honey Bee Larva

Honey Bee Larva

Of course, these great macro shots just don’t happen by themselves. The Worker Bee Honey team uses the latest photography techniques and exotic reflective materials to bring you these fantastic photos. Here is a behind the scene shot of the state of the art facility used.

Behind the scenes bee shoot

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News from the Hives

I’ve bad been about updating since our return from Seattle, so a synopsis post is in order.

We did another honey harvest this past weekend with a super from Sunshine Community Gardens and a super from Rue in Baab-Brock Farms. I was pleased to see that the Sunshine honey was just that. Nothing weird about it although the light floral honey from early spring has now given way to the darker late summer honey.

Rue had 4 frames of good honey and 4 frames of the mystery honey. I finally got to the post office and mailed off a sample to A&M for analysis today so perhaps an answer is just a week or two away.

I am also planning on requeening Rue this weekend. This hive has gotten aggressive as of late, and one of the neighbors got stung (on her birthday no less). I don’t want another Large Marge experience so I’m taking the steps now to try and nip this problem in the bud. I’m anticipating a fun Saturday trying to find the old queen.

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