Tag Archives: backyard beekeeping

Colorado Natural Beekeeping classes announced 2013

We have announced our 2013 spring bee guardianship classes in Colorado!
We are excited to offer beginner, intermediate and advanced classes in
Boulder, Fort Collins, Carbondale, and Paonia.
You can register for the classes and find out more information,
at BackYardHive.com

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Excellent presentation on bees by Cornell University Professor, Thomas Seeley

Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley

Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley

We were fortunate enough to attend the presentation in Denver given by Cornell University professor and bee researcher, Thomas Seeley.  Seeley has been researching bees for the past several decades and in particular the communication of bees in a swarm. He calls it “swarm intelligence” and

Here is a link to his presentation:

http://multimedia2.geneseo.edu/GreatDayKeyHinted.mov
((he starts his presentation about 1/4 way into the video))
This presentation was not as relaxed as the presentation we saw in Denver as the crowd was asking questions and Selley was telling funny stories along the way. What an inspiration to see such positive enthusiasm towards the bees!

Seeley has written several books we recommend:
Honeybee Democracy – a great read, fun and interesting comparison to human democracy, but also fascinating information about bees communicating in a swarm
The Wisdom of the Hive -this is much deeper read,  really delving into the details of his studies

Here is a great synopsis of his work studying bees swarms:
Thomas Seeley’s work

enjoy!

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Actress Ellen Page talks about the importance of honey bees!

Actress Ellen Page talks about the importance of honey bees.

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Bearding Bees

As the days are getting hotter and the hives are all brooding up for the nectar flows, it’s the time of year that you’ll see large clumps of bees hanging on and around the entrance of the hive to keep cool and let more circulation of airflow into the hive. It’s totally normal and occurs when the hives are all brooded up in the spring and summer as the weather gets hotter both night and day.

During this time of year and into the hot summer months, be sure to check that there is adequate airflow around your hives, your hives are well shaded for a good portion of the day and be sure to keep replenishing the source of water for the bees as they can go through a lot of water on those hot summer days!

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Harvesting Honey with Karen

The other day Karen and I got up bright and early and met at 8:00 am in Eldo. to harvest honey from a totally full and very large custom built hive. We met early  to beat the heat but at 8:00 am it was already 75°. Whew! We could tell it was going to be a hot one that day!  As we opened the hive we realized they had built all the way to the back of the hive and were actually attaching to the false-back of the hive. We came just in the nick of time. What a vibrant colony of bees!!

As we worked through the hive, the bees stayed pretty mellow despite the heat.  While working in an efficient yet calm manner, we were able to successfully harvest a few bars of honeycomb with very little stress or agitation to the bees.

We had a large clean metal pot with a lid to place the clean comb into that we wanted to harvest, a crate for resting bars with bees on them to give us extra space while working in the hive (we would put these combs back into the hive when we closed it up) and a few empty bars and spacers. After herding the bees off of the false-back with the hive tool (slowly moving the flat side of the hive tool over the comb and into the hive), we cut off the attachment comb into our metal pot making sure to scrape off any pattern they  created from the comb on it so they won’t have an incentive to build comb on the false-back in future. Then, we went through the hive as if going through a filing cabinet, detaching the brace comb and inspecting the honeycombs for harvesting.

After setting the first few (smaller) combs in the crate to give us space to work in the hive, we got to the first fully built comb with about 80% capped honey. We decided to leave this one in the hive and go back to it later if we decided to harvest it. It was such a perfect comb that we thought it might be good to leave for the bees because of how straight it was. This turned out to be a good call because as we suspected from looking in the window of the hive, the combs started to get a bit wonky and not necessarily straight on the bar. This hive has the older style top bars with only a small notch in the wood as a guide for the bees to build their comb and many of the hives with these bars (rather than the triangle bars) didn’t stick to the part of the bars we would have like for them to build on. They built their combs across several bars making it harder for us to work in the hive without braking any comb as we worked. The triangle bars solve this problem by giving the bees a very clear indicator as to where the best place would be to build their comb. We worked our way through a few more bars bit by bit and chunks at a time to prevent any of the crossed comb falling into the hive. The comb was getting a bit melty at that point because of the heat. We knew we should finish up fairly quickly.

As we continued to work through the hive, we ended up harvesting quite a few of these little honeycomb sections, making sure to scrape off the old (crooked) pattern on the bars. When we started to see brood and the temperature kept climbing, we decided it was time to close up the hive and to put the combs we didn’t harvest back into the hive making sure to keep the combs in the correct order they were in the hive and the same orientation (front-back facing) they were in before we took them out. We harvested the equivalent of 4 top bars from a custom size hive similar to the golden mean hive but longer.

As we closed up the hive, we replaced the 4 bars we harvested with 3 empty tri-angle bars near the outskirts of the brood nest and 1 in the very back leaving all the other comb with bees on them near the same place they were in the hive originally. We also added spacers in between all of the honeycomb bars in the hive to help them keep in line with their natural “bee space” (1.38ths for brood and 1.58ths for honey).

Hopefully these bees will start building straight comb on the new triangle bars and have a great rest of the summer season.

Karen and I brought up the pot filled with honeycomb and crushed what we weren’t using for comb honey with our clean hands feeling a bit like wine makers as the comb and honey squished through our sticky fingers (what a treat licking our hands was afterword. Yummy!). We then poured the mashed up honeycomb into a strainer secured over the top of another stainless steel pot with the lid over it so the honey could strain down into the pot without attracting more bees.

We were both totally sweaty and hot by that time as it was nearing 11:00 am and with a mutual unspoken need to get cool, we jumped in the river (ah, the cool relief) before venturing forth to the next honeybee endeavour of the day!

(Written and photos by Claire Anderson)

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Difficult Decisions: Honeybees and Humans

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This is a story Una Morera wrote about her recent trip to Mexico, difficult decisions and her encounters with honeybees and humans in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.         Enjoy!   Claire

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At times we are asked to reflect about the qualities we like about ourselves.  We come up with list in our head, we look in the mirror at ourselves, we contemplate on our meditation cushions, or we discover it in a meaningful conversation with someone we barely know or someone we know really well.  One of qualities I really like about myself is my ability to love and care for honeybees.  It’s a deep concern and profound love I have for these amazing insects.  I am always in awe when I meet others who share this love, or at the very least, this respect.  Currently, my boyfriend and I are the proud guardians of two top bar hives.  These hives not only provide us with honey but also relaxation, curiosity and the kind of pride that happens when you know you are doing something right.  We both feel that it’s improper to try and make money from the honey or even mess with the honeybee’s way of life.  We take a truly hands-off approach. Continue reading

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Transferring a top bar nuc into a hive

For the intermediate class, Corwin and I demoed transferring a top bar nuc into a normal golden mean hive. Everything went smoothly and I’m really excited to have another hive of honeybees! The weather was perfect at about 75 F with just the right amount of sun! Continue reading

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