Tag Archives: beekeeping

Batten Down The Hatches! Prepping for Hurricane Sandy

28 Oct
Ventilation holes up top, Pre-Duct-Taping

Ventilation holes up top, Pre-Duct-Taping

Duct-Taped Ventilation Holes

Duct-Taped Ventilation Holes. Ready to ride out the storm!

With the impending storm, I have finally gotten enough pressure to clean up the roof and tie down anything loose with a bungee cord. The hives have always been storm proofed, tied down to four concrete blocks with two cargo ratcheting straps. Along with about 100+ lbs of honey, the hives are not going anywhere.

Since Hive A had the modification from last check-in (where I doubled up on the top ventilation shims to accommodate the beautiful work of “freestyle” combs they created right off the inner cover), I sealed up all of the ventilation holes on the shims. The hive still has the main ventilation in the inner cover and bottom screen board has not been covered up, so I hope that should be enough ventilation but keep the water and wind out during the storm.

Freestlyin' Inner-Cover

Freestlyin’ Inner-Cover

I confess, I still have not prepped the hives for the winter.

My main decision in making sure that the bees survive the winter, is to not harvest at all this year.

Kickstarter sponsors: Please bear with us as we are setting ourselves up for a good, plentiful summer harvest in 2013.

Before the first frost, my intention is to create a new shim for Hive B, so that there is enough space to insert a chunk of dry sugar in there. For Hive A, I’ll insert the sugar next to the freestyle combs, which are only covering about 50% of the inner cover. The freestyle combs look like the combs in a top bar hive or skeps. Next year, I plan to cut the combs out and tie them to frames, but for now, they look too beautiful for me to mess with them.

I laid out a whole lot of intentions and plans, but the bees usually laugh at all of them, and I usually have to invent something new…

May everyone and their bees stay safe.

Here’s a glob of propolis I scraped out in the last check-in. For good luck.

Gob-O-Propolis from last check-in for good luck

Gob-O-Propolis from last check-in for good luck

UPDATE: The honeybees made it through Sandy!!!


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 NotCot.org:

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.

Third Check-In: Got Stung. And Burnt.

20 Jun

I checked in on the bees for the first time, solo, and here’s the report I wrote to our beekeeper Phil:

date: Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 10:56 PM
subject: Third Check-In

Hi Phil,

I checked in on the bees today, cleaned up the feeder and replaced the syrup.

I saw the queen as well. Our queen is only slightly bigger than a drone, but definitely had longer, pointy tail and did not have big eyes like the drones.

I think they were happy and OK, but one thing concerned me. They built upwards, and began a big comb right into the feeder.

I did not want to take it out, as I didn’t know what to do.
So rather than do something drastic, I just left them in there.

It seems that because they built upwards, they haven’t gone sideways. Like last time, only 4 five wax foundations are filled (pollen, bigger grubs, and more capped comb), and they haven’t expanded to the six five other foundations on both sides….

Should I take it out?
When are you going on vacation?
Wanna come look before you go?

I got stung on my finger when I accidentally grabbed a bee along with a frame, but it didn’t hurt as bad as when, earlier, I accidentally overreached for the smoker and burned the same finger.

I think I flicked the bee in time so the stinger didn’t stay in the skin, and the finger didn’t swell. Got a blister for the burn though.

Live and learn.


Second Inspection and “The Queen is Dead???” Incident

5 Jun

Here’s the video from today’s check-in:


Today, I woke up to check in on the hive, and there was a big bee, stuck at the entrance. It was so big and stiff, I could not get it out of the entrance. I wasn’t sure if it was the queen as I couldn’t get a good look, but it was a huge one, so I got very concerned and emailed Phil. He wasn’t scheduled to come check-in for another three days, but decided to come take a look after work.

Some questions kept popping up in my head throughout the day, such as:
What if the queen was dead?
Did the queen lay eggs before she died?
If so, will there be a queen cell and will they start over?
Do we need to get a replacement queen?

When Phil got here and opened the hives, the dead bee turned out to be a drone, to everyone’s relief.

The hive was buzzing along fine and it was much further along that the first check-in.

And lo and behold, we spotted some grubs (larvae)!!!

We also spotted queen-like bees that were definitely not drones…but we’re still not sure.

In the next check-in, I intend to find the queen.

First Beehive Inspection + Q&A between neighborhood kids and beekeepers

26 May

It is wonderful to see them outside the window from our kitchen/dining room, busily flying in and out of the hive every day.

The first inspection was done on May 26. Here’s the video from the inspection.

The bees had begun building a comb around the queen cage, locking what seemed like some worker bees inside. At least, the queen was alive and we’re hoping she will begin laying eggs in time for the hive to keep going.

At the end of the inspection, the kids from the building across our roof, saw the inspection, and started yelling out questions from their window.

Phil, our beekeeper, and his girlfriend spontaneously responded to their questions. I’ve included the transcript of their Q&A session below the video.

Q&A between neighborhood kids and beekeepers

Q: What do they eat?
A: They eat pollen from plants and flowers

Q: From where?
A: All over…They can travel a really long time…They fly about 2 miles

and then they come back with pollen…They know this is their

home…They live here.

Q: Where did you get them?
A: From Georgia

Q: Can we see the bees flying?
A: Yes, they are everywhere!

Q: What’s that blue thing?
A: It’s the lid – the roof of their home…This is where they live…

Q: Do they have a bed? They sleep on the wings?
A: No, they make a home inside.They make little rooms for themselves called honeycombs. This is where they sleep. (correction: Bees don’t sleep.) It’s their house.

Q: Why are there many bees [around the entrance]?
A: Because they are going to get more food…Those are the awake bees.

Q: What’s that in your hand?
A: It’s the brush – so I can sweep the bees – if they are on me.

Q: Why?
A: Because they can sting you! and you don’t want that! But these are nice bees. They won’t sting you unless you are breaking into their house, like
we just did!!!

Q: How do they get in?
A: There’s a little door! It’s only big enough for one bee! (for now)…They fly out all the time

Q: Are there any ants?
A: No ants. The bees would kill them. Only bees.

The first batch of flower seeds were planted in flats on May 30.

Thanks for all your support, and stay tuned!

Bees have Arrived!

17 May

After many delays, the bees finally arrived on May 17, 2011.

Here’s the video from the “Hiving”.