Monday, August 17, 2009

Bee Culture Seeks City Beekeepers

Hi all -- this comes from "Catch the Buzz," an emailed publication from Kim Flottum at Bee Culture: This ezine is also available online at

If you are a city beekeeper, your time in the limelight may have arrived!

PLEASE NOTE: EMAIL IS CORRECT in the version below:


Help Us Celebrate Urban Bees, and Urban Beekeepers
Bee Culture Magazine and want to celebrate the incredible explosion of City Beekeepers. We want all urban dwellers with beehives and beesuits, with hive tools and smokers, with supers and covers and frames galore to stand and be counted, to be recognized and noticed. We want everyone that uses five frame, eight frame, ten frame or top bar hives to raise their hands to the sky and shout! We want every and all of America’s backyard, roof top, window box, fire escape, empty lot, and anywhere else in the city honey makers to join the hive and let the world know you’re alive. Let’s get everyone with every hive, in every large or small, crowded or sparse asphalt landscape around the towns and the cities, the suburbs and gardens of America’s everywhere and anywhere to share what they do, show what they grow, and feel pride in their work, their passion and their hobby. It’s no matter if you just started out or are already seasoned in city bees. And if it’s not Kosher to keep bees where you are, we won’t tell, we won’t share because we don’t care…we want the world to know there are thousands who are working to make the bees at home. Thousands who want only the bees, only the peace, only the gentle gift of helping things grow. Thousands who are part of the larger citybee community. Thousands!

If this is you, if this is your time, send us a photo, a gift to share with those who share with you , and especially those who haven't yet but want to. Send a high quality photo, 50 or so well chosen words about your specific, or general location and operation…depending on you and your neighbors and the law of the land where you are. We need contact information so we can get back to you (an email is just fine) if there’s a question so we get it right the first time. Please send all this to Dan Shapley, the Editor and web and guru at at He’s a whiz at making all this work. When you send your photos and descriptions, you give The Daily Green and Bee Culture the right to publish the material and share it with its partners. For details, visit

It’s time for the bees. Help us show what you do and how you do it. It’s only for those who have, and those who want bees. Join the Community of UrbanBees. Be part of the Revolution. UrbanBees Now!

This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

DC's Own Girls Are Flying High!

lederer hive before visitI look after ten hives now, one of which does not belong to me: it's the colony located at the Lederer Youth Garden in NE DC. The hive was started from a package this Spring, and I had a devil of a time getting them going: I donated the bees, equipment and all, a few months ago, so they are officially government honeybees.
Here's the hive when I arrived today. The medium sitting on it's side is full of recently extracted frames from the roof bees, something I hope will give the girls a head start on additional winter stores. (I guess that means that DC is now the owner of yet another chunk of hive gear!)
My last visit took place on July 8, just before travel. At that time, I checked that the queen was still laying, gave them that green medium super with a few frames of comb, filled the feeder and hoped for the best. Those hopes were truly fufilled!
lederer bees eating honey drips between boxesI also brought cappings and honey to put in the feeder, but decided to take a bit of a look inside since so much time had passed.
Here's a confession: even though it had been almost a month since I had even looked at this hive, even though it is a particularly important and privileged colony, it took every bit of self-discipline I had to push forward> You see, it was about 95 degrees F (33 degrees C) by the time I arrived, and I had been stupid enough not to bring any water or socks into which to tuck my jeans!
But the reward was great. Sweet, good-tempered bees were present throughout the top box, and by peeking between the frames I could see that every single one was filled with capped honey. And some drone brood. Hmmm.
lederer capped honey frameThis was the second frame in, even the frame at the edge of the box was completely drawn and filled. Somewhat worrisome: the third frame in had a mass of drone brood, and nothing but drone brood. This was a concern because I have dealt with three unreliable young queens this year, and even though the weather is frying-hot at this time of year, we really have to be thinking about the upcoming winter and whether the queen who is in place will be producing that big batch of fat, healthy cold weather bees we need to take us from October through the end of January (at least).
So once again I had the rare privilege of hefting an 80-pound (about 30 kg) box full of bees and honey gently to its resting place on an inverted telescoping hive cover. Sigh. Luckily, even though it is August, the bees were in no mood to get sting-y and I had enough coordination to keep from squishing anyone.
Also luckily, the first deep frame I pulled from the top brood box was full full full of lovely flat-capped worker brood: mom just laid all those drones in some frame that was warped when I transferred it over before vacation!
So I put back the frame, cleaned up those blobs of honey on top of the whole box (the ones that the girls above are eating) and reserved them to give back, replaced the honey medium, added the extracted box, replaced the hive top feeder, filled it with the blobs I had scraped and several pounds of cappings and honey, and closed up for a while. If I play it right, I can let the girls clean up for about a week, come back to get the now-clean wax (I use it for making soap), and begin the heavy feeding regime that helps keep the hive happy and ready for the season ahead.
lederer hive after visitHere's the newly-extended hive! Let's be honest: I've been worried how this season would go–anxious about potyential vandalism, about inadvertent interactions with the public, about being able to make the bees relevant to the whole gardening programme. The first two issues have simply not applied: the bees have a perfect location with the most desired flight path heading right over a field of corn, straight at a tree-lined creek. There are visual barriers and lines of trees and shrubs that keep anyone who is not already looking for the hive from stumbling across it.
I'd like to do better for the people–especially the kids–who use that garden, and my usual ideas (a soap making seminar, a presentation with an observation hive) are not bad, but they are not really tuned in to the garden's specifics. So there is room for growth there, too.