Friday, May 27, 2011

Honeybee Democracy Author on NPR

I'm becoming known as the bee lady around the workplace.

My colleague Linda came in earlier this week and said, "There was this guy talking about bees swarming on NPR this morning!"  A brief conversation revealed it was an interview with author Dr. Thomas Seeley, author of Honeybee Democracy.

Then, beekeeper Linda posted it on her blog.

So today on my lunch break, I listened to the interview and read the article, "Nature's Secret: Why Honey Bees Are Better Politicians Than Humans." 

The musical interpretation of the bee dance is worth it.

Image from Princeton University Press.

Porch Bees & a New Veil

John Barham came for his bees tonight.  They started as a swarm near his house. They've been on our porch for a couple of weeks while he got his equipment and stuff settled.  He was with Mark for the Kossuth adventure.  He got one hive from Kossuth, and  told me tonight those Kossuth bees were mean, and would boil out of the hive and head straight for him.  Ouch.  The bees on the porch are docile and easy to work.

Mark got to try out his new veil.  It folds down, is well ventilated, and with the helmet-style hat it doesn't fall in his eyes.  I think he's pleased with the new purchase.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping Bees in Hong Kong

Over at Global Swarming Honeybees, there's a link to a video about a bee keeper in Hong Kong.  The video is beautifully done, and makes me incredibly grateful I live in an area of the world with clean air, clean water, and no light pollution.

Urban beekeeping is growing in popularity. In the U.S., there are so many yards, gardens, balconies with plants, and green spaces, that bees often do well as long as keepers take precautions. These include checking local ordinances, using a high wall to direct bee traffic up and away from neighbors, and having a water source to keep the bees out of the neighbor's swimming pool.

What I love about the video from Hong Kong: using a tea kettle to pour wax into candle molds and the hive construction with the pop-open/pop-closed entrance.  Clever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

100 Posts and a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Welcome to Post 101 on the PBBF blog!

I subscribe to The Herb Companion in an attempt to figure out how to use all of the herbs I'm growing. The magazine features recipes for food, spa products, and health remedies, among other helpful articles.

They also post many of the articles online.  As this author points out, one garden won't make a huge difference, but if everyone planted just a few pollinator-friendly herbs and flowers, we could help save these fragile workers.

Currently, I have borage growing from seed simply because bees are supposed to love it. I have cilantro, sage, basil, chives, pineapple sage, parsley, and rosemary too.  What do you have planted for pollinators?

Photo of a bee on borage from The Ojai Garden.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vanesha Williams' Photography featured me!

Last week I got to shoot some photos of my friend and photography teacher Vanesha Williams.  She gave me a shout-out on her blog today.  Too sweet.  It's so nice to meet other women who pursue their creative ventures with enthusiasm!

Midnight Dance of the Crazy Beekeeper

If Frances Barham had looked out her window near midnight on Thursday, she'd have seen two men wildly jumping around in her cotton field, waving their arms and ripping off their clothing. Well, some of it anyway. Wish I had a photo of THAT.

In the bright moonlight, the bees exacted their revenge for the bumpy two-hour ride from their home in Kossuth, MS. They relentlessly attacked, crawled under veil edges to sting necks, and buzzed angrily.

Last week Mark traveled to Kossuth to buy out a hobby beekeeper who was no longer interested in his hobby. The gentleman had three hives of bees from the Minnesota Hygienic line, plus equipment and tools, including a homemade bee vacuum. Mark brought home a load of stuff on Tuesday, then returned Thursday night to retrieve the hives. His friend John Barham, who is interested in taking up beekeeping, joined him for the dramatic relocation process.

On Sunday, I went with Mark to  move frames of bees into our hive bodies.  Some of the originals were missing corners.

I've heard of alternative entrances, but I don't think this is what the experts had in mind.
And let's face it: my husband's OCD will not allow him to have mismatched hives stacked up.  So, first we went to the Barhams' Bee Yard. The population of this hive is immense.  There were bees *everywhere*.  Lots of honey, too!

 We moved them into new supers, added two medium supers to give them more space, and will have to return soon as we didn't realize two of the original hives were shallows, not mediums. The bees will have a heyday building brace comb to fill in the space between the bottom of the shallow frames and the tops of the frames below them.

BB6 is "The Leaning Tower of Beez-ah"

After we finished at Barhams' we went to Harley's.  Mark had put a single deep nuc from Kossuth there.  We quickly transferred those frames -- an interesting assortment of new frames, one plastic frame, and dark wood frames, only half of which had comb built.  When we stopped back by Barhams' to see if the bees had calmed down enough to put oil in the trap, Eldon gave us a fresh head of cabbage, and some frozen corn and peas.

I can't wait to give them some honey!