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Honey Bees

“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” 

― Henry David Thoreau

Bad Bee-havior: The Nectar Robbers

Bad Bee-havior: The Nectar Robbers

As mentioned in this post, during late summer and fall in this area there is a relative dearth of nectar available for our honeybees, as they depend heavily on native forage. One of the best native nectar sources this time of year for honey bees is Coyote Brush...

Of Drought, Dearth, & Drones

Of Drought, Dearth, & Drones

Last fall, and early winter, we experienced some significant rainfall events. One large storm after another sent water racing down our slopes, and off into the creeks. By December we were genuinely concerned that if that pattern persisted we’d slide into the creeks by...

Beeswax: Solar Wax Melter

Beeswax: Solar Wax Melter

One of the byproducts of harvesting honey is beeswax.  A couple of weeks ago we took the last of our honey for the season from our hives. Although most of the frames will be reused for another year, a couple of frames were damaged during the extraction, and we also...

A Late Summer Honey Harvest

A Late Summer Honey Harvest

Although we primarily keep bees for pollination, we'd be lying if we didn't admit that at some point we also hoped to harvest at least some honey.  Last year, as the colonies were building up, we left the honey stores with the bees. We've had a smackeral or two of...

Inside the Hives After the Swarm

Inside the Hives After the Swarm

Last week two of the hives in our apiary swarmed.  The Lavender colony swarmed on Sunday afternoon, followed 24 hours later by the Salvia colony.  Both hives had been split this spring prior to the swarms, Lavender was split as recently as two weeks ago, but after...

Can You Hear That Buzzing Sound?

Can You Hear That Buzzing Sound?

I said that twice this weekend.  Saturday morning we started working on the new native garden in front of the house.  A little after noon, as we were struggling to wrestle the fountain rock into position, I suddenly heard a distinctly loud buzzing sound.  Then I...

Hive Management: Splitting the Salvia Hive

Hive Management: Splitting the Salvia Hive

It is difficult to believe that we're already embarking on our second year of beekeeping! Despite struggling with Varroa mites last fall, and losing two weaker colonies in our apiary over fall and winter, one to robbers, and the other to a Queen that abdicated, the...

Rosemary Hive: A Queen Abdicates Her Throne

Rosemary Hive: A Queen Abdicates Her Throne

Sometimes, beekeeping doesn't go according to the beekeeper's plan.  Bees are dynamic creatures, with free will, and sometimes, despite all the preparations, reading, attending guild meetings, and talking to beekeepers who are vastly more experienced than ourselves,...

Hive Management: Feeding The Bees in Fall

Hive Management: Feeding The Bees in Fall

The ability of bees to obtain and store food is a function of weather, resource availability, and colony size.  The question is, if feral colonies can store enough food without a beekeeper ever feeding them, why do beekeepers feed bees?  Well, part of the answer is...

The Collapse of the Chamomile Hive

The Collapse of the Chamomile Hive

It's a little early for a Hallowe'en tale, but yesterday we made a rather grisly discovery in the apiary.  After only 5 months, the Chamomile colony, despite our efforts to help, is completely dead. If we weren't paying attention to our hives, we might have been...

Varroa Management: Drone Brood Sampling & Removal

Varroa Management: Drone Brood Sampling & Removal

In our last bee post we noted that despite the outward appearance of our large swarm colony hive, which seemed to be thriving, that the colony in fact was coping with a significant, and potentially deadly infestation of Varroa mites.  Even though the hive currently...

Hive Health: Varroa Monitoring

Hive Health: Varroa Monitoring

It's no secret that honey bee populations have been struggling to survive in recent years.  Hypotheses abound in regards to the causes of honey bee decline, and it's likely that no single factor will prove to be responsible, but it's clear that the presence of Varroa...

Hive Inspection: Calm Bees, and Queen Cups

Hive Inspection: Calm Bees, and Queen Cups

The weather this spring has been a little off, and less than ideal for bees.  The temperatures have been below normal, days often overcast, breezy, and late season rains have thrown hives all over northern California for a loop in recent weeks. We attended an all day...