Tag Archives: new york city

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:


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”.

The Bees are Coming! The Bees are Coming!

11 May

Finally, the bees will be arriving this Saturday morning.

Posting a picture of the painted hive. I found a wooden pallet discarded on the street, so I decided to use it as a base. Cinder blocks are coming this Friday to prop them up.

My landlord has also gotten very enthusiastic about this, as his uncle was a “master beekeeper” and lived to be 105 years old. He sent me this article in Edible Queens, as a clipping, in snail mail. Here’ s the online version for young folks: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/queens/spring-2011/queens-bees.htm

(Note: Not all the hives will be used in the beginning, but that’s how they look if they are all stacked together).

Waiting for the Queen Bee

16 Apr

Phil and I have gotten all the parts of the beehive, and have put together the hive. It was like going to IKEA and putting everything together, ourselves, all 55 of them (50 wax foundations and 5 outer frames). I’ve uploaded the pictures of us assembling the hive on Flickr:

The weather has not been cooperating:

The Queen Bee has not been mated due to bad weather (…yes, she’s got to get laid before they can send her and the worker bees from Georgia), so we’re patiently waiting for the estimate time of arrival which is now “sometime after Easter”. In a nutshell, the bees mate mid-air. The drones (the guys) from other hives congregate in one area, and the Queen Bee flies to them. She gets all she needs at this “congregation” to lay eggs for the rest of her 2-3 yr lifespan.

This weekend, if the weather is good, then I can paint and weatherproof the hive, but so far, it’s been rainy and cold…

As for the “Green Roof” part of the project, my son Kai and I went to the workshop for gardening at Queens Botanical Garden. I checked out their Bee Garden while we were there and have uploaded the pictures of that as well.

The folks at Seeds of Change have been extremely generous in sending us a whole box of organic, heirloom seeds (100 packets, worth over $300 retail!!!) FOR FREE — All we paid was shipping. They had a campaign called “Sowing Millions” where they gave out a million seeds for free to people. I also got a packet of “Save the Bees” seed blend at Whole Foods, just to see what flowers were in it. I’ve uploaded the photos of the seed packets.

Until around June August when the flowers get in full bloom, the bees will be on a diet of organic cane sugar syrup so that they have enough nutrients to build out the hive. By then, I hope to have the garden beginning to bloom.

Beekeeping Class at Central Park

10 Jan

Here are the notes from the beekeeping class I attended at Central Park in December 2010.

Textbooks can be downloaded from here:

They will soon make announcements about group-purchasing the bees and supplies for this spring, so we can get a group discount.

Next session is January 4th.

Lecturer was “Jim”, and he went over topics such as:
– Red Hook Red Honey (trending topic for sure)
– Bees – as a colony – are more like mammals than insects
– Distinguishing Drones, Workers, Queens
– Anatomy & Mating
– Pheromones & Communication

– “Scientists can’t prove how bees can fly”…only if they have “fixed wings” like aircrafts. Bees move their wings; therefore, they can fly.
– Honey is NOT regurgitated — it’s kept in a separate “honey stomach”. That’s why it is kosher — it is not “excreted” by an insect, which would have made it un-kosher.
– GMO foods and cellphone towers are NOT the cause of hive collapse
– Queens do have a stinger, but they are not barbed, and they can sting again and again without dying like a worker bee. However, they almost never sting.

Bee breeds:
– Italian bees are recommended for beginners
– Russian/German bees are aggressive
– Carnolians are good for more advanced beekeepers
– Africanized bees are more tame at high altitudes
– Minnesota Hygenic – recommended for beginners
– SMR/VSH Carnolian – varroa sensitive
– New World Carnolians. Beekeeper’s favorite. Not for beginners. Best $making
– Guy named Adam Finkelstein (?) is developing a resistant breed

– Any books written before 1985 does not account for invasive pests, varroa, etc.
– “Beekeeping for Dummies” is a good book