Archive for the ‘Beekeeping’Category

Beekeeper’s Calendar: September

Queen Bee Arthur's hive at Myrtle Village Green in Brooklyn

For the first time in months, I didn’t feel like I would keel over from heat stroke when I put on my gear last weekend. We had a brief snap of early fall weather in Brooklyn and the bees and I made the most of it.

September’s goldenrod and aster in bloom may mean you’ll get a nice fall honey flow. If you’ve been checking your mites regularly, you’ll have a good idea whether you should extract a fall crop or whether you should be treating for mites instead. You also won’t want to take off the honey if you’re actively feeding.

Speaking of feeding, how heavy is that hive? You’ve gotten your honey, but do the bees have enough for the winter? You want at least 60lbs of honey so there are ample stores over winter. If your boxes feel light, start feeding syup until the bees won’t take more.

You’ll notice your queen’s laying will slow down even more this month. The brood nest won’t be huge, but you should be able to spot fresh larva and eggs. Drones will also start to disappear in September.

If the brood nest looks bare, maybe fall requeening is for you. While many beekeepers requeen in the spring, there are some advantages to tackling it this time of year – like having a vivacious young queen to winter over with the hive and build up your population in the spring. Bees accept new queens best during a light nectar flow, which makes the early fall work well. Queens may also cost a little less in fall than in spring.

Do your best to make sure your colony is really queenless. If the queen is still alive, you’ll need to find and kill her before introducing the new queen. Also check for queen cells in the hive before introducing.

Did any Jewish beekeepers out there use their own fresh honey at Rosh Hashanah dinner this month? Share your sweetest new year recipes in the comments below.

In bloom: Goldenrod, aster, mint, thistle


09 2013

Beekeeper’s Calendar: August

YouTube Preview Image

There are lots of things to look forward to in August — late-summer vacations, ripe peaches, hive robbing like in the video above… wait, maybe not that last one.

By August, the summer nectar flow has definitely tapered off for most of us. If you haven’t already harvested honey, it’s time to remove the surplus, leaving some space for any late summer or fall flow as the goldenrod and asters bloom.

The hive population will continue to decline from its peak in the high summer and the bees’ attention will turn to the winter ahead. So should yours. That means ensuring you have a strong colony with ample honey stores.

When you inspect, make sure you’re seeing good laying activity from the queen. If you can’t locate the queen or there appear to be problems in the broodnest, now is the time to start thinking about fall requeening. Don’t wait till it’s too late! We’ll talk more about requeening next month.

If you got a late start or just haven’t built up as much as you would have liked, you might also think about feeding during the dearth to help build up winter stores.

But be careful not to start a feeding frenzy on your bottom board, caused by a strong hive raiding a weaker one. The smell of honey, from opening the hive or putting the feeder on, can trigger robbing that may be difficult to contain. You’ll see aggressive fighting between bees at the entrance and on the ground in front of the hive.

The best way to deal with robbing is to prevent it. Use your entrance reducer to help the bees defend their colony. Cover up the supers when you’re harvesting and be careful not to spill any syrup while filling the feeder.

The other big August task is checking your varroa levels, especially if you did only cursory checks during the summer flow. Take varroa counts using your preferred method whether it be a sticky board drop count, drone brood checks or the sugar roll. I like the sticky board approach because it gives you a cross-section of the whole colony and doesn’t kill any bees.

So how many mites is too many mites? That’s a good question. You definitely want low mite levels to ensure healthy winter bees, though. The threshold for treating ranges by location, by time of testing and by your general sensibility, but I would think about treating if your mite drop count hits double digits per day on average, over a 3-day count period. If you do decide to treat, make sure all supers are off the hive before using any chemicals.

In bloom this month: Not much. You may get buckwheat, smartweed and some early aster and goldenrod.


08 2013

The Honeybee Conservancy celebrates Earth Day at the Battery Urban Farm’s EARTH FEST!

EarthFest 2013 at the Battery Conservancy Urban Farm

Join us as we work with to raise awareness about bees and beekeeping at EARTH FEST, an exciting event by The Battery Conservancy and Battery Urban Farmers and friends designed to raise awareness about food and farming and the roles that both play in sustainable communities.

EARTH FEST is free and open to the public, and will take place at Battery Urban farm on Saturday April 20 from 11am to 3pm in NYC.

This family-friendly event will offer arts and crafts, workshops, site tours, educational games, a “Roof to Table” photography exhibit, a “Meet the Farmers” table, and a community Clothing & Kitchen Swap all geared to encourage food, farming, and sustainability in NYC.  Live music and Greenmarket-sourced refreshments will round out the event.



04 2013

Our Urban Beekeeping talk at Green Festival, the largest sustainability event in the world

We’re committed to working towards a more sustainable future, which is why on Earth Day Weekend, we joined to speak on Urban Beekeeping at Green Festival®, the largest sustainability event in the world, held in LEED-certified North Pavilion of New York City’s Javits Center

This year’s festival features talks and panels by esteemed experts such as as Frances Moore Lappe (Diet for a Small Planet and the upcoming EcoMind) and Mark Tercek, President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy. Over 300 eco-friendly businesses featuring the latest and greatest in sustainable products and services will be there as well.

Our talk is at 3pm on Sunday. Come join us!


04 2013

The Bee Course: For Bee Lovers & Beekeepers in “The Big Apple”

© 2011 NYC Beekeeping

Since the beekeeping ban in NYC was lifted in March 2010, urban beekeeping has taken off in The Big Apple. NYC Beekeeping is offering their annual free in-depth course in beekeeping, “The Bee Course,” which resumes December 8th.  Here is the description on their site:

If you are curious about bees and beekeeping, now is a great time to start The Bee Course.  We will be offering this in depth program in cooperation with NYC Parks Dept for the 4th year in 2011-2012.

The first sessions give you foundations in bee biology and behavior and will help you determine whether you’ll be ready to keep bees on your own this Spring, would prefer to join a community team, or just want to learn and volunteer with us. In spring as weather permits, we progress to hands-on sessions in our urban apiaries, exposing students to dozens of hives at various stages of growth.

The Course is offered free of charge.

Registration is here.

Feel free to share this info on your blog or social media accounts (esp. Twitter)!


11 2011

Artist John Stark’s “Apiculture” exhibition at the Charlie Smith London – opening October 6th

One of our favorite artists, John Stark, will have an upcoming exhibition, Apiculture, opening on the 6th of October at Charlie Smith Gallery in London.  We published a short blog post about his art back in August of 2010.

Copyright John Stark

Copyright John Stark

An interview with John Stark in Spoonfed sheds some light on beekeeping imagery that is woven through a number of his paintings:

These beehives form the narrative crux of the exhibition, and lend a new “conceptual cohesion” to John’s work. Under the title of Apiculture, the works trace the ritual undertakings of a series of strange figures, like a cult of bee-keepers, anonymous under brightly coloured hoods and black face-masks. These bees, for John, are  “a really nice open metaphor, that can be read in so many different ways. All through the history of literature and art, the beehive has been cited as an example of utopian society, of a selfless existence. Do these hives represent the world? An idealised world? Art, even? Are the keepers the artists, producing the art, or the collectors harvesting the art?” Importantly, these possibilities are kept delicately open.

Copyright John Stark

Copyright John Stark

John Stark – Apiculture can be seen at the Charlie Smith London gallery from October 6 to November 12,  2011.


09 2011

A better place for us all

There is something palpable about these new MacArthur Fellows, about their character as explorers and pioneers at the cutting edge. These are women and men improving, protecting, and making our world a better place for us all. “   ~~ Daniel J. Socolow, Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program

Big news for the honeybee.

Earlier today, Marla Spivak, an entomologist from the University of Minnesota who is studying the impacts of nutrition, pesticides, and bee diseases on bee health, was named a 2010 MacArthur Fellow.  These so-called Genius Grants provide $500,000 to each fellow, with no strings attached.

Go Marla!

It’s nice to see people who are working to solve the mystery of colony collapse get a little recognition … and support!

Finding the answer will definitely make the world a better place for us all.

That buzzing-noise means something …

“That buzzing-noise means something. If there’s a buzzing noise, somebody’s making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you’re a bee … and the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey … and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.” ~~ Winnie the Pooh

I love Pooh.  Really, I do.  But as Piglet says, “Pooh hasn’t much Brain.”  So, as National Honey Month comes to a close, I’d like to point out a few other amazing things that honeybees do that give us humans more reasons to love them.  As if making honey (the only food produced by an insect that is eaten by man, by the way) and doing the lionshare of pollinating food crops wasn’t enough! Read the rest of this entry →

5 Reasons To Get A Taste For Local Honey

Photo by jfschmit

September is National Honey Month. It’s an ideal time to celebrate honey and indulge in your craving for this sweet and viscous food known as “liquid gold.”  While indulging, why not focus on local honey, or honey made as close as possible to your home?  Here are five potent reasons to step away from the generic honey bear at your local supermarket and instead reach for a jar (or more!) of local honey. Read the rest of this entry →


09 2010

Put yourself in the shoes of a commercial beekeeper

Imagine that you are a commercial beekeeper. The rule of thumb is that you need 500 or more hives to justify keeping bees as a full time job. That is a lot of money tied up in equipment.
You have a bank note that you pay on annually for said equipment with proceeds from the honey crop. Uh oh. You see mites. You follow the advice of the experts that monitor the bee problems. They recommend you take action with some chemical or other intervention. Whew! You make your order and while you are waiting for it to arrive…
…You go to your monthly local bee club meeting. And the new guy is talking about natural beekeeping. He has found that you can stop placing chemicals and high fructose corn syrup in your hives.
“Geez”, you say, “but the HFCS is so much cheaper than honey. How can I compete with the commercially produced and imported honey that is sold at the local grocery store? You want me to let my bees eat honey all winter? How will I make my payments to the bank? You say I need to stop medicating? What if I lose all my bees? I have my whole life tied up in this operation. I can’t take that risk. If the government will compensate me for my losses, why should I take that risk?” Read the rest of this entry →


08 2010