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Heat Wave! This Year, We’re Prepared

22 Jun

NY has been hit with a heat wave again! BUT (unlike what happened last year when they died off after the heat wave) we ARE prepared! Umbrella! – check! Plenty of water! – check! Fully open entrance! – check! Ample space and top ventilation! – check!

So I think the girls will ride it out this year.

On cooler days, the bees keep the hives warm, and I can feel the warmth when I open the hive. Now they don’t have to make so much effort to heat it up. They may have to cool it down, but if the outside temperature is 93, then that’s the target temperature for brood. I’m assuming they can just relax and “beard out” on the landing board, which is what they’ve been doing since the heat wave hit.

Also – got first squash harvest of the year – very yummy with basil and ranch dressing.  Getting the Emsco SIPS container was the best decision for the roof garden. The sunflowers are getting taller by the minute. Thanks to the wonderful pollinators, backyard gardens around here will have great yield this year.

The roof garden has been watered solely on used bathwater to not add anymore to the water bill – which we hope makes the landlord happy.  It’s a lot of effort (for Omar) who has been hauling the bathwater to the big plastic bin outside our kitchen window. I thought about rainwater collection, but the rain barrels are kind of expensive and I didn’t want to drill holes in the drain pipe. So we just got a plastic trash can at Home Depot, and a bungee cord to fasten a mosquito screen on top.

Check-In Log 6/21:
I checked the hives on Monday June 21. The third hive bodies with plastic foundations (the ones I added a few weeks ago) are now finally getting built up and getting filled with nectar. I’m still feeding then once a week. I’m not sure when to stop, because they always eat up what’s in the gallon bags every time.

I am reluctant to harvest honey this year – I have not put the queen excluder for harvesting, because they are so slow to build on plastic foundation and won’t stop eating the syrup. I plan to order 2 more medium hives with wax foundation next week, and then let them build these up fast for their own use.

Article in NY Times:
There was an article on NY Times about blessing of the bees. Today, I was on the crowded, hot subway platform, and I was thinking of the Great One who created the bees, then thought, wow, the subways are like hives with swarms of humans in it…

NYT was also asking for submissions from beekeepers across New York, so I sent in a photo – which made it into their slideshow:


Featured in a Documentary + Tree Hugger Debut = Good News

30 Jul

After the bad news last week, at least there is one good news.

The footage of the last remaining bees can be seen in a beautifully edited short documentary about urban beekeeping, featuring Phil’s teacher Tim, and Yours Truly.

The documentary was created by Adrian Bautista, Martha Glenn, and Brooke Tascona for the Design and Technology: Sound and Vision course at Parsons during the summer semester 2011.

The video was also covered by Tree Hugger (yay!)

Also posted on

Queenlessness and Heat Wave = Bad News

23 Jul

I am sad to report to you that in the past three check-ins, the following has happened:

1) The hive replaced the original queen with a new one

2) The new queen then left (we were hoping she will mate and come back, but she has not come back for 3 weeks)

3) The heat wave is killing of what’s left of the hive (usually, a thriving hive can regulate its temperature, but we’ve lost too many and the hive is dwindling.)

We have been recommended to re-queen (get a replacement queen), but there may not be enough bees left in the hive after this heat wave.

Packaged bees for sale (to repopulate the hive) are all gone at this point in the year.

Worst case scenario, we will have to start over again next year — We hope to start the season earlier next year, and continue to take classes and visit other hives in the city to learn to be better beekeepers.

PHOTO: Gardening has been a steep learning curve as well – The first batch of seeds simply got baked in rooftop heat because I left the flats’ lids on. The second batch is doing well, but only the toughest of the seedlings are surviving the heatwave. The flats in the photo with the biggest seedlings have a layer of coir (coconut fiber) pellets underneath the soil. The ones that are not doing so well, are just solid soil.

Honey made in Queens, NYC

8 Nov

This project was successfully funded on! Thanks for your support!

I live in Astoria, Queens, in an apartment where you can walk out onto the flat roof from the kitchen window.

The roof is about 500 sq. ft, and I have been lucidly visualizing this barren roof as a green roof.

This began as a simple post on Facebook by a friend —
just finished the first of three beekeeping 101 classes and it was totally awesome and inspiring. Does anyone have a roof I could borrow to keep some hives?
This post then lead to an initial meeting yesterday, in which we discussed the plan and how we will proceed.

It opened up a whole new world of beekeeping for me — I never knew this was possible in an urban setting like Queens, NY.

Turns out, it is very possible. I also didn’t know it was just legalized in NYC back in March 2010.

Schedule and Milestones:

Nov 2010 – Feb 2011:
Take courses in beekeeping, Plan green-roof
Visit sites with hives, such as Queens County Farm and Added Value
Get funding, investors, support
Join NY Beekeeper’s Association and go to Beekeeping Meetups
File for NYC Beekeeping Permit

March 2011:
Prepare / Green the roof (or at least put in a bunch of flower boxes)
Get composter and rainwater collector
Order bees and supplies

April 2011 – ongoing:
Get the hive going, inspect the hive from time to time, make sure they are built up to survive the winter

Wait, inspect
Wait, inspect
Wait, inspect

Sometime in 2012 or 2013, when the hive is well established, we will harvest the surplus honey.
Dividends for investors will be paid in honey.