Category Archives: education

Austin 6th Annual Beekeeping Seminar

It’s hard to believe it has been 2 years since my last post, but having a child certainly takes up a huge amount of your time.

While I haven’t been posting, I am still very active in the Austin beekeeping community and we have our 6th Annual Beekeeping Seminar approaching in January.

You can register at the following URL: https://aabaseminar2017.eventbrite.com

This is a daylong seminar offering 6 different educational presentations running
concurrently in each time slot throughout the day. This will provide many beginning and advanced subjects to choose from. A separate beginner track has been formatted covering a variety of startup topics for soon to be or very new beekeepers.

Afternoon sessions will include many different presentations including:
• Honey Bee Management 1 and 2
• Honey Bee Biology and Behavior
• Top Bar Management 1 and 2
• Varroa Management
• Brood Disease Control
• Swarm Capture Techniques
• Raising Queens
• Learn Honey Extraction Techniques
• Harvest Economics
• Beneficial Bee Flowers
• Texas Ag Exemption
• Ask an Expert
• Queen Finding and Requeening
• Honey Bee Reproductive Biology
• Colony Supersedure and Management
• Making Splits
• Nutrition Management
• Spring Management
• Cut-Outs
• Products of the Hive
• Equipment Building Workshops
• Increasing Hive Productivity
• Mead Making

Presenters:
• Professor Juliana Rangel- Posada Entomology Texas A&M
• Mark Dykes- Chief Texas Apiary Inspector
• Mary Reed- Texas Apiary Inspector
• Mark Hedley- Vice President Texas Beekeepers Assoc.
• Chris Doggett- President of the WCABA
• Tanya Phillips – Owner Bee Friendly Austin
• Elizabeth Walsh-Entomology Texas A&M
• Jay Poindexter-Owner of Poindexter Family Apiary
• Karl Acuri- Austin Area Beekeepers Assoc. (Co-organizer)
• Cameron Crane-Area Director Texas Beekeepers Assoc.
• Becky Bender-TX Master Naturalist
• Brandon Fehrenkamp- Owner of Austin Bees (formerly Eastside Honey Co.)
• Lance Wilson- Certified Master Beekeeper GMBP
• Chuck Reburn-Owner Bee Friendly Austin
• James and Chari Elam-Owners of Bluebonnet Beekeeping Supplies.
• Joe Bader- President of the Fredericksburg Beekeepers Assoc.
• Dennis Herbert-President of the Bell-Coryell Beekeepers Assoc.
• Dodie Stillman-Texas Master Beekeeper candidate

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Beekeeping Seminar a Success!

It’s been a week since our beekeeping seminar at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center, and I finally have some time to write about it. We sold out our 250 seats we had available and had a waiting list of yearly 100 people wanting to get in. There is clearly an interest for this type of information so we have already started looking for a venue to accommodate at least 400 people for next time.

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All in all, it went very smoothly and our feedback was very positive. The Beekeeping 101 class was packed. Here is Lily explaining the difference between Langstroth and Top Bar Hives.

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Our more advanced class was also very well attended. Here is Lance explaining a method of combining two weak hives into one using the newspaper method.

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One of the best speakers we had was Dr. Juliana Rangel who is the Assistant Professor of Apiculture in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. Her research program focuses on the biological and environmental factors that influence the reproductive quality of honey bee queens and drones.

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I was fortunate enough to attend both her lectures, and learned a great deal. While I’ve always suspected that the new generation of pesticides are contributing to declining bee health, her research is showing that even sub-lethal exposure to pesticides is causing fertility issues in both the queens and the drones.

I’m very happy how everything turned out. We had a great group of volunteers from the Austin Area Beekeepers Association to keep things running smoothly, and got lucky with some beautiful weather in the middle of January. I’m looking forward to next year, and I count myself lucky to be part of such a great organization.

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Austin 4th Annual Beekeeping Seminar

I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post. One of the things taking up my time (other than a small baby) is helping plan our annual beekeeping class. We’ve greatly expanded the number of classes beyond our traditional Beekeeping 101 course, and I hope that it will continue to grow and become a great annual event for Central Texas Beekeepers. Here’s the scoop:

Date: Jan. 17th 2015
What: Austin 4th Annual Beekeeping Seminar
Who: Sponsored by The Austin Area Beekeepers Association
Where: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, TX 78739
Cost: $40 Pre-registration (https://aabaseminar.eventbrite.com)

Why: The mission of this daylong seminar is to educate people of all experience levels in sustainable bee husbandry and to provide funding for The Texas A&M Honey Bee Lab.

Description:
This is a daylong seminar offering 3 different educational presentations running concurrently in each time slot throughout the day. This will provide many beginning or advanced subjects to choose from. Morning sessions will include two separate and thorough presentations on Beginning Beekeep-ing and Advanced Beekeeping Management.
Afternoon sessions will include many different presentations including:

  • Honey Bee Foraging
  • Varroa Management
  • Brood Disease Control
  • Swarm Capture Techniques
  • Taking Advantage of the Texas Beekeeping Tax Exemption
  • Colony Examination and Frame Reading for Beginners
  • Learn Honey Extraction Techniques and Alternative Hive Products
  • Beneficial Bee Flowers
  • Queen Finding and Requeening Techniques
  • The Latest in the Texas Bee Lab Research
  • Colony Supersedure and Management
  • Keeping Bees in an Africanized Zone
  • Nutrition Management
  • Spring Management

Presenters: 

  • Professor Juliana Rangel- Posada Entomology Texas A&M
  • Mark Dykes- Chief Texas Apiary Inspector
  • Karl Acuri- Austin Area Beekeepers Assoc. (Co-organizer) and natural beekeeper.
  • Dennis Herbert- Author of original bee tax exemption bill.
  • Fred Hall- Williamson Co. Extension Specialist and 2nd generation beekeeper
  • Lily Rosenman- Austin Area Beekeepers Assoc. (Co-organizer) and natural beekeeper
  • Becky Bender-TX Master Naturalist
  • Brandon Fehrenkamp- Natural Beekeeper Activist and owner of Austin Bees (formerly Eastside Honey Co.)
  • Lance Wilson- Certified Master Beekeeper GMBP

This organization is non-profit and all proceeds of this event will be used to promote sustainable beekeeping practices and provide support to our much appreciated Texas A&M Honey Bee Lab. This should be a lot of fun, everyone please come out and see us.

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Flat Stanley Visits the Hive

Flat Stanley arrived courtesy of my niece Riya shortly after the holidays. Part of the instructions suggested “dressing” him to reflect either the season we were in or an activity he performed.

We took these instructions to heart and got Flat Stanley all suited up and ready to do a hive inspection complete with cowboy boots since we are in Texas after all.

Flat Stanley's Texas Visit

We had a nice break from the cold weather this past week. It was perfect for a quick peek into the hive I requeened with the Hawaiian queen at the end of October 2012. The hope was the hive was still full of bees with plenty of honey to make it through spring. It would also be a plus if they didn’t try and kill me.

To calm the bees before the inspection, Flat Stanley first smoked the hive.
Flat Stanley the Beekeeper

After smoking, we opened up the hive and started inspecting frames in the top most super. All 8 frames were all mostly drawn out combs of honey.

Flat Stanley the Beekeeper

The next two supers after that were still all honey as well. The bees were also calm and only started getting a little annoyed towards the very end of the inspection. I didn’t go any further into hive because it was late in the day and the temps were starting to go down. If we have another warm weekend this week, I’ll do another inspection and go straight to the 2nd super now that I know the top three are all honey. I’ll hopefully see some activity of brood meaning the queen from Hawaii was accepted.

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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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After my wife watched me go from an obscure beekeeping blog to an international success (seriously, I had three views from Indonesia this week), she obviously wanted in on this blogging action.

She has now started her own blog titled Game of Thorns where she chronicles her love of gardening with a special emphasis on antique roses. Her latest post made it easy to use in this shameless plug as it relates to native bees using our roses for their nesting materials.

Enjoy!

Game of Thorns

After the rains, the roses in the garden are blooming in a rainbow of colors.
Souvenir de la Malmaison is blushing pink.

Valentine unfurled its velvety red petals.

Perle D’or is living up to its fancy French name.

I’m not the only one who has noticed the roses. For the past week I have seen these shiny, dark blue-green insects hovering frantically over the rose bushes. Here is the clearest picture of one I could get.

Leaf Cutting Bee

Now I would say that I have an above-average experience with insects, but I couldn’t nail down a positive ID on this one. That was when I noted some peculiar things about the mystery bug. First, it kept flying under our outdoor teakwood table. Karl, being adventurous, crawled underneath and saw these man-made holes on the underside of the table that the creatures found delightful to hide away in.

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I then noticed that…

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Austin City Ordinance Meeting

Last evening, I got to participate in a review of a section of the City of Austin’s Beekeeping Ordinance. A resolution was passed last November basically stating Austin wanted to be more bee-friendly and prioritize removal and relocation of bees whenever possible over extermination.

The current language reads as follows under a section entitled DESTRUCTION OF WILD OR ABANDONED BEES:

Without notice and a hearing, the health authority may destroy:
(A) a colony not residing in a hive;
(B) a swarm of bees; or
(C) a colony residing in an abandoned standard or man-made hive.

The proposed language would add this language to the section:

Wherever reasonably possible, the City shall prioritize the removal and relocation of wild or abandoned bees over destruction.

It is not a large change, but at least Austin is attempting to update their codes in the recognition of the plight bees are facing in this day and age.

Perhaps the best change, in my opinion, is updating the contact list 311 uses when people call in with bee swarms or wild hives on their property. The list currently has extermination services first with bee removal services near the bottom. The new updated list will have removal services first with those that only provide extermination services at the bottom. Priority on the list will also be given to beekeepers and services that will come get swarms free of charge. The hope is to encourage people to use relocation services as opposed to killing the bees.

One of the local news stations was out covering the story that you can watch by clicking the link below.

KEYE TV :: News – Top Stories – Participants abuzz at meeting to decide how Austin can be bee friendly.

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