My name is Karl Arcuri, and I have been beekeeping in South Austin since April 2010. I’m using this blog to chronicle my experience for my own benefit, but I also hope it will be a good resource for first time beekeepers.
I love your blog! Thanks for letting me see your hive!
Hey Karl! Such great photographs–what an awesome adventure!
Hello – we want to start a bee hive on our property in Granger, Texas. Know nothing about bees – where do we start?
Unless you happen to catch a swarm, you can’t really start a hive until next spring. I’d recommend getting a few books to read over the summer. Beekeeping for Dummies and the Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum are two books I got that had a lot of valuable information. You can also try taking a class. Round Rock Honey offers one, and I would check to see if there was a local beekeeper association near Granger.
Karl — I’m a reporter researching a story for the Oak Hill Gazette on the dwindling bee population. Can you call me at 512-233-6443? Thanks.Tony
Hi Karl, I just found your blog and read it all the way back to the beginning! My parents did some beekeeping when I was in elementary school in the 70s, and I loved it and would get in there to inspect the hives with them. Lately I have been wanting to get into beekeeping again and have read the Kim Flottum book and another great book called Plan Bee by Susan Brackney. I live here in South Austin (Sunset Valley) and I want to meet some other bee people… do you attend any clubs or gatherings with other urban beekeepers? Thanks! I really am enjoying your blog! – Lorie
I’m going to take a flyer here, based upon her picture and reference to her school years, that Lorie does not wake up and pull her pants up with suspenders nor does she grocery shop in a mechanical chair. HOORAY! This CCD initiative and urban beekeeping will require younger folks getting involved…Can we get her to be a national spokesperson?
Jeff, you’re cracking me up! No, I definitely don’t shop in a mechanical chair. I think beekeeping is a great way for us “young folks” to do something really smart for our environment and for the world’s food supply. As for the national spokesperson part, we’ll see! That would be fun! 🙂
Hi All! I am an avid supporter of honeybees and have been trying to spread the word about CCD for some time. I recently posted http://www.vanishingbees.com/trailer/ on my FB page and had a few responses. One of them was that they had a huge hive in their garge and that their husband did not want to pay to have them moved and was going to kill them. Is there a free relocation service in the Austin area or do you have suggestions? Thanks!
It depends on where the hive is in the garage. Most beekeepers do charge to remove bees especially if they have to cut out sections of the wall to get to the hive. Also, with winter fast approaching, most beekeepers would not want to try and relocate a hive as they would most likely not survive the winter in their new home. I would suggest posting on Craig’s List to see if there are any takers as well as reaching out to various beekeeping organizations like Williamson County Beekeepers.
Karl, you are now forever linked to our DC Honeybees blog. Please pray for my District bees through the winter.
Good morning, Karl & everyone! I ate at The Grove yesterday afternoon, in west Austin at 360 & Bee Caves Rd. They were reluctant to seat anyone on the patio because they said “the bees are going crazy.” They had a LOT of bees out there– we sat there anyway, of course. They had put some cups out with honey in them to concentrate the bees away from the (few) diners & tables. I got really upset because some young punk waiter came out with a can of wasp spray and sprayed one of the cups, killing a dozen or so of the girls. I told them to stop, and I called a local beekeeper I found on my phone’s web browser– Brandon– and he said there was not much they could do about the bees on the patio because they are just foraging. That’s what I thought he’d say. It was amazing to watch how incredibly frightened people are of bees and how they react to them. I picked one up who was walking along the ground weakly and let her up on our table to observe– she had a varroa mite right on her back. 😦 Anyway, we had a bee encounter yesterday and I was thinking of you!
Thanks for the reference today from Bee Brooklyn. Appreciated!
Where did you purchase the components for this hive at?
I’ve bought most of my hive supplies from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. When I bought my first hive, Dadant didn’t have near the selection of 8-frame hives as Brushy Mountain, but I just received the Dadant catalog, and they now have an excellent selection of 8-frame components as well.
Hi Karl, we are beekeepers from Sacramento CA visiting Austin – it’s great to read your blog and hear all the positive responses.
Thanks for reading Kate. Enjoy your visit to Austin!
I have a hive of honeybees that have nested in my front yard, inside a underground water meter box. It has a removable lid and a small hole in the top which the bees are using for entry. I have long wanted to keep bees myself but this was a surprise to see a hive living in my front yard. Since I am not prepared to transplant these bees and dont have enough knowledge yet, do you know anyone that might want these bees and be willing to help me remove them. Since its so accessible, it should be fairly simple. I live in south Austin, around Mopac and Davis Lane. If interested, email me at: jonathan.sempsrott at gmail dot com
I’d post it on http://www.meetup.com/Austin-Urban-Beekeeping/ to see if anyone there would be interested. If you had photos of the area and meter box, that would be great as well.
Hi! I recently moved to Austin and I’ve been interested in beekeeping for some time. Do you know of a place I can find to do some volunteer work and pick up on the art of beekeeping? Thanks!
Hey Liz, I’m not sure about volunteer work, but check out the Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup group (http://www.meetup.com/Austin-Urban-Beekeeping/).
Thanks for the links, Karl! Some reader from Ann Arbor found me through you today.
May I ask if you had smoked your hand last week before you were stung? Usually those package bees are pretty demoralized, and don’t have much anger in them.
I had not smoked my hand, but I was still a bit surprised by their reaction.
Where (approximately) in Austin are you? I’m in Tarrytown and was thinking of getting a little 8 frame hive for the house here in town, or shoot, just go with the standard 10 frame. We have plenty of distance between our house and property lines (we are on a corner), so I don’t expect to be impacted by the regulations from the city regarding section 3-6 (25 foot).
I just placed 2 hives out on some property out of town last weekend (Fredericksburg) and also took the intro class from RR Honey (nice class). That is where I learned I could have a hive in town!
Just not certain about having the bees here at the house, so looking forward to hearing other thoughts.
The two hives are in Travis Heights. As long as you have enough space to meet Austin regulations, I don’t see any issues.
Karl: Nice blog! Found it when searching for help with a problem: some bees have taken up residence under the tool shed in our backyard. Any advice on how to get them out of there? Any chance of putting them into a hive instead of under the floor?
Steve: I haven’t done any extractions out from a building. It is possible to move them if you can easily get to the comb and then wire the comb into frames which are then placed into a hive. There are plenty of beekeepers who will come do the job for you but usually charge some amount based on the difficulty level.
Too bad. I think this will be difficult. There’s no access under the shed.
Yah, if there is not way to get under the shed from the outside, you are looking at sawing up the floor on the inside to get access to hive. There is also a technique called a trap out which is another possibility if it is easy to seal up all the entrances the bees have to the shed.
Love your blog – and wonderful photos! Very inspiring…
Any chance the Worker Bee Honey t-shirts will be for sale? Love the design.
How many are you wanting and what size? I did get several extra when I placed the order.
I’d take 2 large if available 🙂
First, Great site. Easily laid out and full of great info. Thank you for that. Second, have you heard of BeeWeaver (http://www.beeweaver.com/Bee-Weaver-Breed.html) in Austin? or had any experience with clipped or marked queens? I’m just left Austin and loved it. I’m looking into moving from Brooklyn to Austin and want to have a hive or two. So I was looking for local beekeepers to buy a swarm from. Any recommendations besides the BeeWeaver mentioned above? Thanks again for the great work. Best of luck with the heat and upcoming winter.
Thanks for reading. All my hives initially started out with BeeWeaver queens and packages which I have loved. The hives ended up replacing the existing queen after time so the queens in there now are half BeeWeaver stock and half whatever feral hive she mated with. However, for starting a new hive, I highly recommend BeeWeaver packages as waiting for swarm in the spring can be hit or miss if you really want bees that season.
Hi Karl :: I’m writing a book about beekeeping for Storey Publishing, and I’m including profiles of beekeepers around the country. I’d be interested in talking to you. I love your sense of humor and style! Please respond if you are interested. Coincidentally, Bobbi Marstellar of Sweet Hive Chicago is profiled, though I didn’t find you through her. Please email me if you are interested and give me your contact info!
best :: alethea
I am in need of around 10 lbs of beeswax to make solid lotion bars. Do you happen to have any to sell?
Sorry Sherry but I only have a few pounds of wax from my honey harvests that I’m saving for my own projects. Brushy Mountain Bee Farm has 1 pound wax bars for $4.95 each though (http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/1-lb-Raw-Settled-Beeswax/productinfo/450/)
Ordered from them. Thanks for the link.
Hello, I am working with a group of students at Fulmore Middle School and I am planning to start a study on bees. I am looking for someone to do a presentation for my students and from reading your blog was fascinated by what you do. Would you be interested in doing something like this? Please email me at email@example.com
My name is Krista Quiroga, and I am a student at Texas State University in San Marcos. I am very interested in learning more about beekeeping in Austin. So much so, that I would love to create an artist book for a book design class I’m currently taking. I was wondering if there is any way I can visit your hives to learn more about them and/or possibly feature your hives in a book I design?
Thanks for your time (and I love your blog!),
I’m a biologist at UT working on raising some bumble bees — and I’m looking for a fresh pollen source to feed them. Do you have any of this available from your colonies or do you know who in Austin might have enough to spare/sell?
Sorry, I meant Karl! Thanks!
I personally don’t use pollen traps in my hives to gather pollen, and I don’t know any beekeepers who do. Beekeeping companies (http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/Fresh-Pollen/productinfo/618/) do sell fresh pollen however.
Thanks for the site. I had many hives until 1990 when my father sold his land. I am retired and interested in bee keeping again. Read your recent blogs, and really wanted to suit up and take a look.
Just finished building my new first hive, and am looking for a swarm. Several people here in Lago Vista interested. Would you email me a contact phone where I might get a swarm in the area?
I’m not exactly sure what you are asking. I really don’t know any beekeepers in the Lago Vista area. You may want to call the city and see if they have a list of folks willing to pick up swarms.
Thanks for the reply. You now know someone in Lago Vista willing to pick up swarms. I have 3 full suits, and a 4 frame motorized slinger. Any interest? I have a lot to learn, as beekeeping is complex, but still remember a few things. I think that I can find others in this end of town that can benifit from your site.
My 3-year old daughter loves bees and I was wondering if there is an apiary near Austin that offers visits for children.
Round Rock Honey will sometimes offer a class specifically geared towards children, but 3 years old may still be a little too young for that. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower will often have series to teach kids about all sorts of native insects and animals, and I believe last year they brought in an observation hive so kids could actually see the inner workings. You may want to give them a call and see if they have any planned for this year.
I am an Urban Beekeeper in Central London, England. I will be visiting Texas for a week in April (9th-16th) and was hopeing at some point to meet up with some Texan beekeepers. I will be staying with a friend of mine in a town called New Braunfels.
If you know of any local beekeepers who might like to meet with me, please let me know.
My face book address is:
My facebook name is: Iain Judge
Hey Iian, New Braunfels is about an hour south of Austin. I’ll check around to see if anyone knows about a local beekeeping chapter there. Let me know if you’ll be in the Austin area and we can always go grab a pint and talk bees.
Hi Karl, I think that we will be in Austin at some point, i don’t know what our exact plans are at the moment but when i do i’ll let you know when I shall be in Austin,
I’m always happy to talk about bees, and would love to hear about the difficulties that are being faced by Texan beekeepers.
Hi! I’ve been following your site with much interest. My husband and I are moving back to Austin after many years away and I’m hoping to set up a hive at our new house in Holly. Plus the Scott Pilgrim hive is just sweet 🙂
I’m going to be in Austin this Friday afternoon, if any Austin Beekeepers would like to meet a british beekeeper from London.
Are you just going to be here Friday afternoon or will you be in Austin anytime over the weekend?
Hey unfortuneately i’m just here in Friday afternnon.
Who can I contact to learn some basic info about beekeeping??
I think the best source of information is getting a good book and reading it cover to cover. I like Beekeeping for Dummies and The Backyard Beekeeper. If you are in Austin, look for a Groupon for Round Rock Honey’s beekeeping class. It is just a few hours, but for less than 50 bucks, you get a crash course on bees and the opportunity to suit up and open a hive.
Thank you for linking to my blog this last year.
I wanted to announce that I have a young minds’ bee book available free:
pdf or web page with illustrations.
–Jack (austin bee helpers)
Your link to my web blog is no longer good. It is still Austin Bee Helpers, but it is now no longer at web.me.com.
It is now:
Thank you very much!!
Thanks for the heads up Jack. I’ve updated the link.
I have a veggie plot at Sunshine Gardens and I’ve been visiting the hive you installed there. I just set up my first hive this April. Kinda looking for a mentor/fellow beekeeper to bounce ideas off of. When you are next out at Sunshine to do an inspection mind letting me know so I can tag along? Thanks! -Lindsey
Sure thing. It will probably be this weekend.
Okay, third attempt ( I hate WP…):
Howdy sir, I’ve been on your site for a few hours now and can’t escape it except to follow the links you provide. I’m planning on starting a hive in Cenral Austin next spring and my (FIRST!) question to you would is: if you were starting over from scratch again, would you start with the same equipment you began with or would you purchase a different ”start-up” kit? Thanks in advance!
I don’t have any regrets on the 8-frame garden hive I started out with from Brushy Mountain. I have started buying more and more equipment from Mann Lake because they offer free shipping on $100 or more which makes a huge difference since beekeeping equipment is heavy and bulky.
Thanks! Just saw RRHoney is offering a 3 hour class for $45 too, and even less the more people you bring. Will be back again to pick your brain, I’m sure!
I took the RRHoney class in 2009, and it was really helpful.
Looking to get a hive started in East Austin if anyone has any info on how to get bees relatively inexpensive it would be greatly appreciated… spentplanet AT gmail DOT com
Most packages of bees will cost anywhere from $100-$150 depending on the apiary. These are only available in the spring as you don’t want to start a hive up this close to the winter months. The cheapest way to get bees is to catch a swarm in the spring, but this can be hit or miss.
Hello! I’m a fourth year student at the University of Texas at Austin. I love your blog, and interest in bees! (I’m definitely going to establish a hive once I finally establish a permanent place for myself!). I’m enrolled in an Animal Behavior class, where as a project we are required to observe, or perform experiments, on chosen aspects animal behavior. My group has chosen to study bees. My group and I are trying to design a foraging experiment (simple, as is the nature of this class). We plan on measuring foraging frequency of bees on different model flowers, each with different sucrose concentrations, and one control. Unfortunately, in our initial trials, we either had too much foraging competition with native flowers, or the likelihood of a bee randomly running across our sources of sucrose was too rare (we are not given much time for this study; the bee colony would likely have to be given time to acclimate to this source of “nectar,” time which we don’t have). Do you have an established beehive? With a beehive nearby, the acclimation time to the model flowers would be significantly shorter. We are required to perform 10 hours of observation, which we could do over 3 days or less. Is there a way we could arrange to perform some experiments 10-20 yards or so from your hive? If that is not an option, do you have any beekeepers in Austin that you could refer me to? Thanks will be included in our small research write-up, as well as in our powerpoint at the end of the semester. Thank you for your assistance! Have a wonderful day! Feel free to contact me via my email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
John, I’m going to post this in the Urban Beekeeping discussion board to see if anyone is interested. I don’t think my hives are good candidates for this experiment.
Okay, thank you so much! I hope that your new queen is accepted into the hive!
Hi Karl! My name is Madi and I’ve always had a passion to beekeep but I can’t keep a hive at my house. It’s a huge bummer and I was hoping that instead I could apprentice for another Austin beekeeper (given any could use/want the help). If you have a list of emails or know anyone who might be interested in having a helper around I would greatly appreciate knowing! I’m not sure exactly how or where else to reach out to a pool of beekeepers so I was curious if you could possibly refer me somewhere. I can definitely provide my own suit and I’m not looking for a pay check, I simply want to beekeep but can’t! If you would like to email me separately my contact is: email@example.com. Thank you so much!
Hey Madi, thanks for stopping by. I’d recommend joining the Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup group (http://www.meetup.com/Austin-Urban-Beekeeping/) and posting your request there on our discussion forum. It will reach a lot more beekeepers who may want some help. We also have a meeting coming up on March 18.
Thank you so much! I joined the site today, will be posting soon.
I have a swarm of bees in New Braunfels on my little fig tree. Not sure if any bee keepers are interested in saving them but if you are please comment here and we will figure out how to get in touch with you.
My name is Andrea Strobl, I’m 23 and am an Industrial Design student in Mexico City. I’m currently working on my thesis final project. My project has to do with bees and beekeeping, I recently discovered the great world of bees and in only to months I’ve changed completely. The way I think about agriculture and food is so much more complex now, and it is all thanks to bees. I read about you in a book by Luke Dixon called Keeping Bees in towns and Cities. What I think is great about you, is that you have created a beekeeping community, and we lack that in Mexico. There are a lot of committed organic beekeepers in Mexico, but we don’t have are not working as a team yet, and I want to do that. I write, not only to congratulate you and your wife for your lovely work, but also because I would love to meet and chat with you. Turns out I’m visiting Austin next weekend (15 – 18 nov) yes, for the big race. My dad is a huge fan, and it’s kind of a family affair. But I clearly have other interests and would love to take advantage of my visit 🙂
I don’t want to take your time, so be honest with me. And maybe you can recommend some places to visit in Austin, related to beekeeping.
Thanks in advance,
Do you sell beeswax by itself? I am looking to buy some from someone here in austin!
I do not sell beeswax. You may want to try Round Rock Honey or some of the other local honey producers here in Austin.
Hello my name is Chris, I live in south austin. I have built a top bar bee hive for the spring. What is your best advice?
Chris, thanks for visiting my blog, but you need to be a little more specific 🙂
How do I get on the swarm list. I live in Elgin. Thanks,
I can add you to the Austin area swarm list, but being in Elgin, I don’t know if that will work for you? Please let me know.
I am a journalism student at UT and I write for reportingtexas.com. I am reporting a story about urban beekeeping in Austin, and would like to talk to you to learn a little more. Please get in touch if you are able to speak with me!
Andrea, I would be happy to speak with you about beekeeping. Should I contact you via the utexas.edu address?
Yes! Please do!
Karl, I’ve followed your blog and have a gardening blog of my own. My husband and I built two Warre hives and picked up our bees yesterday from BeeWeaver. We took a class there before we left (we have read and researched, but thought the class was a good idea–it was). The young man suggested that we screen in our opening (we also have Boardman feeders in there) to keep the bees in the hive and check today to see if they are building comb, then we can take the screen off–he thought they would abscond. So we hived the bees and there were many who didn’t get into the hive (they have wings and fly, who knew?). There were dead bees this morning, but bees buzzing around both hives and they are drinking the syrup. I also placed two shallow bowls with sticks and syrup in front of the hives and the bees out of the hives are drinking that. We just checked and in the first hive, the queen is still in the cage and there is no sign that they’re building comb. Bees are clustered on the strip of beeswax on the top-bar frame, though. In the second hive, the queen box had fallen, so we retrieved it and the queen is out of the cage. No comb building in that hive either. There are now even more bees that are flying because they flew out of the hives when we opened,. Is that normal? Should we expect that many dead bees? Should we wait until tomorrow to take off the screen from the entrance. I refilled one of the boardman feeders and there were dead bees there too.
Is this going normally? I’ve contacte BeeWeaver, but only received an automated response. Would you go ahead and open up the entrance, at least in the one with the queen out of her cage? Thanks for any advice you can give.
Tina, I’m not an expert on Warre hives, but it is my understanding they are basically vertically stacking top bar hives. I also wouldn’t expect to see a ton of comb building after just one day either. I’m not a huge fan of trying to screen in your bees to keep them in the hive. I personally want my bees to start taking orienting flights and bring in nectar and pollen. The hive isn’t going to abscond without the queen and it typically takes a few days to release her although your girls seem to be over achievers in at least on the hives. You should expect some dead bees as a small part of the hive dies every day. I also typically leave my hives alone for a week, but since you have already opened it up, I would remove the screens so the bees that flew out of the hive can get back in easily.
Thanks so much for the response. I took the screen off this morning, very early before the storms. I swept a few more dead bees out, but there seems to be some activity, though not much flying. It is chilly, wet and now, very windy. I won’t open the hive again until maybe next weekend. I don’t know what is normal as far as bee loss, but there are probably 3 cups of dead bees around both hives. I’ll let you know how things progress. Thanks again.
My son would like to start his own hive
We live in a neighborhood in Austin.
Are there any rules about bee keeping in neighborhoods? Any ideas for how to get started?
Thanks so much!
City of Austin has codes: https://library.municode.com/HTML/15302/level3/TIT3ANRE_CH3-6BE_ART1GEPR.html#TOPTITLE
Some neighborhood associations have rules around beekeeping that you also need to check. I’d recommend reading books on beekeeping to understand the time and cost requirements. You can only start in the spring so now would be a good time to do research.
Hi, Karl – Our 4 year old preschool classes are Magellan International School are learning about bees next week. We would love for someone to come out and present information about bees and beekeeping to them. Who would you suggest?
Hey Melissa..sorry about the late response as I was on vacation. Is this something happening this week?
Hi Karl, I would like to purchase a true bee keepers suit for my husband for a Christmas gift. He has been keeping bees for over 4 years now. We harvested 30 lbs of honey this Spring. He currently wears a Dickies coverall but still gets stung occasionally. Would you please offer some guidance.
Hey Connie. I’m a big fan of Ultra Breeze suits especially in Texas (http://www.ultrabreezesuits.com). They are more pricey than your standard suits you can get from Dadant or Brushy Mountain, but they are essentially sting proof and the mesh makes it much cooler when inspecting your hives in the Texas summer heat.
I have an idea for your seminar venue that can let 500 folks attend. contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org =)
I’ve been interested in beekeeping for awhile and have just recently found your blog. I stumbled upon a start up out of Australia on Indiegogo.com that has been successful there but seems to be rather controversial on whether it would work here in the states due to the pests that we have. It’s called the Flow Hive and is supposed to be minimally invasive to the bees. I think it would be great if you could tell us your or your peers opinion on it in one of your blogs… Coming from someone with absolutely zero experience I think, at the very least it’s a great idea and possibly could be quite innovative in backyard beekeeping.
Hey Kyle, I certainly have my opinions on this new hive, but have not had time to get them all organized in my head and down in my blog.
I’m sure Karl has an opinion on this. I wrote one for my favorite liberal blog: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/02/26/1367016/-The-New-Beehive-that-Pours-Out-Honey
I’ve had lots of folks reach out and ask my opinion and I keep meaning to write a post for my blog. I have general concerns as well but need to get them all organized in my head.
I have 13 acres and hays county recuires 11 hives for the AG exemption. What constitutes a hive? Each box, or each stack of boxes?
A hive is a distinct colony of bees regardless of how many supers or boxes. As your hive grows, you will need to add supers on top for brood rearing and honey storage. So you will need 11 individual hives that will each start off in one brood box and grow over time.
I believe I have a bee swarm on my front door, under my porch: this morning when I stepped outside my condo, I walked into a cloud of small bees, some already dead on the concrete. I had this problem 3 years ago & had to call the HOA to come in, but it took a while for them to go away. Do you check situations such as this, or can recommend someone who can humanely remove the bees? Appreciate your help. Lia
Are you able to take a picture? Where are you located in Austin? I can send to our swarm capture mailing list to see if anyone could take them away. Is the aol e-mail address associated with this comment the best way to reach you?
Hello, Karl. I would like to buy a beehive/colony in March 2016. Could you hook me up? Thank you. Monique
You will need to place an order for a package of bees in late fall or early winter. Local options are Bee Weaver or R Weaver.
Hi, I am contacting you on behalf of Magellan Inteenational School & our 4yr old preschool class. We are currently doing a unit of study on community and how people and animals work together. We would love to have a bee keeper specifically to come and speak with the class about how bees work together in their communities. We anticipate no more than an hour of your time. Please let me know if this is something you would be willing to participate in. We are looking to schedule someone for either this upcoming week or the following. Thanks so much for your consideration! Lina Flake 512-423-2222
Hey, Karl! I mention your blog in thanks at the front of my new book, Sensitive Beekeeping. You were one of the first places to link to my blog at austinbeehelpers.net, and I really appreciate it. I hope you’re well!
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