If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper, or you want to become a better beekeeper, join me for thoughts on beekeeping in the news, honeybee research, book and equipment reviews, interviews, and other beekeeping topics.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Writing a Novel About Beekeeping

Some of you have been wondering where I've been and why I haven't updated my podcast in quite a long time.

Well, first off, I'm doing just fine. However, I have been busy, and although not entirely on the subject of beekeeping, I thought I would share this anyway.

I have been distracted by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those of you who don't know what it is, it's an annual event whereby professional writers, authors, or just wannabe writers, of which I am none of the above (I'm just a regular person who tries different things). All attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.

I'm currently at 32,652 words or 65% complete. My novel is about a terrorist plot to destroy the worlds honeybee population and the race to stop it. So, it is kinda beekeeping related, in a way.

So, that's what I've been up to. Planning and now writing my novel. Something I've always wanted to do.

I have gotten some good feedback lately and I'm excited about the next few episodes of the podcast which, hopefully will be out soon.

Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Genesis Crash, Paying the Rent, and Final Inspections

I've been meaning to get out to my hive for a while now to do a final inspection and prepare the hives for the winter. The weather here has turned cooler with temperatures dipping down into the 40's at night. The days are still warm, but winter is surely coming.

First, I payed the 'rent'. I took the landowner/farmer four pounds of honey. I think that's pretty fair given that I only got about 23lbs total. As suspected, he was very appreciative and commented on how light the honey looked.

Upon my arrival at the hives, I immediately noticed that there was absolutely no activity at Genesis. I donned my full beekeeper suit and smoker and cracked open the lid to find nothing but cockroaches, wax moths, and a stray bee or two. Interestingly, there were very few dead bees inside the hive. It looked like someone had decided to turn my hive into a haunted hive with all of the cobwebs, moth damage, and the silence.

Exodus continues to amaze me. I wasn't sure about this hive, but the incredible number of bees inside was exciting to see. There were lots of baby bees which tells me I still have a good, healthy hive at this point. I had left a couple supers on this hive, hoping that they would capture some of the late honey, which they did, but not I have a few frames of uncapped and capped honey. My mentor told me to freeze it, and then give it back to them in the spring if I don't mind blending spring with fall. No problem there.

I did see capped brood, eggs, and some honey stored up for winter. These bees will need fed in the next few days and I'll be brewing up some heavy syrup for the winter feeding.

Overall, I'm excited that at least one of my hives made it. It's been two years and I was fortunate to get some honey and learn a lot about the Genesis hive during the time it thrived. I'll be doing a good cleaning and painting of Genesis and will be welcoming a new package of bees in the spring.

Thanks to all of you who offered advice on what to do and how to save Genesis, but it just was not meant to be.

Monday, September 28, 2009

013 - Interview With Linda Tillman

In this episode of The Beekeeping Podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Tillman, better known as 'Beekeeping Linda.

Linda is actively involved in the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers association as well a titan of the beekeeping blogs. She was gracious enough to answer lots of questions about what makes a good beekeeping club, beekeeping and technology, and her experience in chronicling her beekeeping experience on the web.

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Friday, August 7, 2009

2009 Boone County Fair Results

Back in February, I stated that one of my goals for the 2009 beekeeping season was to enter the local Boone County Fair with my honey. I think showing honey is a great way to share the rewards of beekeeping with non-beekeepers and, hopefully, encourage others to get started in beekeeping themselves. It's also a friendly way of competing with fellow beekeepers.

Well, I did it! This year, thanks to the bees, I took 2nd place for a full frame of honey and 3rd place for a 1lb jar of white extracted honey. I've recieved beautiful red and white ribbons to show for the effort, five dollars total prize money, and more importantly, I learned about the judging and correct display of honey and frames of honey. This will certainly be a topic of a future episode of The Beekeeping Podcast.

Congratulations to my beekeeping mentor, Susie, who took 1st place in both the same categories I entered. That's really the way it should be, for as it is wisely written, "The disciple is not above his master..." (Luke 6:40).

I'm already looking forward to next years competition.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Episode 012 - Brewing Mead With Your Honey

In this episode, I discuss one of the best things a beekeeper can do with their honey, brew a delicious batch of mead. Mead is an adult beverage somewhere between beer and wine and dates back thousands of years. With just a few ingredients, a few pieces of basic brewing equipment, and some time, you too can brew a five gallon batch of mead.

Here are the links mentioned in the podcast:

Finally, here is my recipe, adapted from Papazian's Antipodal Mead recipe.

(This will make roughly 5 gallons or 30 750ml bottles)

15lbs Light Honey
Filtered Water
1 Package of Dry Champagne Yeast
Yeast Nutrient

Optional, but recommended:
Gypsym - Amount as recommended by manufacturer
Irish Moss - Amount as recommended by manufacturer
Yeast Nutrient - Amount as recommended by manufacturer
Acid Blend - Amount as recommended by manufacturer

Combine honey and water to equal 5 gallons in stainless steel pot. Add Irish Moss directly to pot. Boil for 15 minutes, removing scum and any other undesirable foam. Remove from heat, cover immediately, and allow to cool to room temperature (this may take several hours). Transfer to carboy. Hydrate yeast using one cup warm water, heated in microwave. Warm, not hot! Pitch into carboy. Add gypsum, acid blend, and yeast nutrient. Immediately seal carboy with airlock. Allow to ferment completely at room temperature for about 6 weeks or until airlock completely stops bubbling, and only after taking a hydrometer reading. Transfer to new container and allow to clarify for 6 months or more. Transfer as needed to clarify. Bottle, enjoy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Episode 011 - Starting With Two Hives?

In this episode, I share reasons why starting with two hives is important for beginners. I also give an update on my hives and talk about my extraction and getting ready for the fair.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 Honey Harvest

Today was honey harvest day. Perhaps the best day of a beekeeper's season. A close second would be the first spring inspection where live bees are found inside a hive. But, I digress.

Since the local county fair is next week and I made it one of my 2009 beekeeping season goals to show honey this year, I went out and harvested what the bees have produced since April 9th.

Early this morning I dropped by the county extension office and picked up the extractor. Both hives had honey in the supers, but Exodus had nearly 6 of 10 frames complete. Genesis had barely a combined 3 of 10. I was really suprised because I had thought this year would be even better than last years 36 lbs.

We decided to make it a family event and everyone was assigned tasks. I use the method recommended to me by my beekeeping mentor and simply scratch the cappings open and then spin the honey out. After filtering the honey through a simple colander we bottled it up. We ended the day with 23.5 lbs and one full frame to show at the fair.

I was a little disappointed with the quantity thus far, but my wife (The Queen Bee) reminded me that we aren't trying to make a living selling honey. Thank goodness for that! She so wisely explained that the kids loved working in 'the honey factory' and it offered them something very special and unique to do with their dad. So true...indeed today was the best day of this beekeeper's season.

Here are some pictures.

Thriving vs. Failing Hive

Today I went out to harvest the honey from Genesis and Exodus so I would have some honey to show at the local fair next week. More about the harvest in the next post, but a quick hive update.

Exodus: Of course, this hive continues to thrive. Lots of bees and activity and lots of honey stored up for the winter. Could this be a sign of a cold winter to come? I don't know. I need to find a good frame of eggs in this hive as well. There is so much honey that I don't want it to become honey-bound. I have seen minimal eggs in my latest inspections.

Genesis: If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think this comparison tells it all. This is a failing hive. Not a single egg, minimal brood, and no queen cells from the frame I transfered last week into this hive. Honey levels remain low and unless I get a new queen in this hive, I believe it will fail very quickly. Another concerning thing that I saw were hundreds of dead bees on the screened bottom board (after tearing into this hive). The bees are just too depressed to do any housecleaning, or my making the hive entrance too small has limited their ability to clean out the hive. Anyone have any ideas on this? I also believe that this hive is being visited by a skunk or raccoon. I also did a powdered sugar shake on this hive to knock down some of the Varroa.

I think this is why it is important for new beekeepers to always have more than one hive. One can compare and contrast the health and well-being of one hive with another.

Monday, July 20, 2009

From Exodus to Genesis - Transfer of Brood and Eggs

Today I went back to the hives to check on Genesis.

Genesis: Again, there was very little activity outside. The queen cells remained uncapped, no eggs in sight, and no sign of a queen. I decided to transfer a brood frame from Exodus to Genesis. Needless to say, both hives were a little unhappy with my taking them down to the brood chamber. No stings, but plenty of buzzing around and bumping me. I also reduced the entrance to the bare minimum in order to help them defend the hive. Minor honey stores.

Oddly, I saw some mud on the front entrance which could indicate skunks visiting Genesis. The next time I go, I'll have to place some rolled up wire fence in front of the hive.

Exodus: Plenty of bees, activity, and massive amounts of honey in this hive. Way to go girls!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hive Check - Good News and Bad News

Today I took advantage of the nice weather and went out and checked the hives. Here's the report:

Genesis: My concerns about this hive and its well being have been confirmed. First, there was very little activity coming or going. On my last visit, I had put the second super on this hive. Sadly, the bees had not even touched it. The bottom super was still at about 70% complete with no frames looking completely full. Plenty of honey, but no eggs in the top brood chamber. I did see swarm and supercedure cells, but no evidence of a queen. I did see emerging bees so that mean
s that I had a queen at least 22 days ago. If counting by the few larve I saw, then I could safely say that I had a queen 10 days ago. That being said, I believe that this hive either swarmed or has superceded the original queen. My concern is not for honey stores at this time, but rather the population. I'll do another inspection in a week to ensure that a queen does exist and is laying. If not, I'll transfer a frame of brood from Exodus into Genesis and let them raise a queen themselves. I did see a wax moth larve, but only one. This hive will take some monitoring to ensure it survives the winter. (in the photo above, notice the classic honey arch. The interior of the frame should be filled with capped brood and/or baby bees, instead, it's empty. Classic sign of a loss of a queen)

Exodus: Surprisingly, this hive is doing great. The bees were 'boiling' out of the hive. They had completed one super and are onto the second. The top brood chamber is full of honey, massive amounts. No signs of trouble, but I did only see a few cells with eggs. That's good enough. I'll defiantly be taking some honey off of this hive.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Changes Coming...

After getting some constructive feedback from a friend of mine who is a professional media expert, I am going through the process of changing things around a little with regards to this blog and The Beekeeping Podcast. I'm working to polish up the website and make things a little easier to navigate.

I'm also working on the format of The Beekeeping Podcast. Stay tuned...

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please send me an e-mail.

For starters, here's the new iTunes icon:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Episode 010 - Hive Inspections - Part I

In this episode, I share ideas for performing external hive inspections. This episode is part one of a two part series where I cover both internal and external inspections.

If you would like a copy of my hive inspection log sheet, please e-mail me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back Checking The Hives

Time: 5:30pm
Temp: 82'
Weather: Hazy, clouding up with scattered storms, no wind

In one of my previous podcast episodes, I talked about the importance and effectiveness of simply observing your bees. Today, I employed that technique. Instead of smoking my bees, opening up the hive, and disturbing the work that the bees were doing, I just stayed a few feet back from the hive and observed the bees coming and going. Most beekeepers will tell you that it sets the bees back a day or two of production when you open the hive. Well, I don't know if that's true or not, but I don't like to open up the hive, or disturb it more than I have to.

Genesis:A beekeeping mentor of mine told me that if the bees are bringing in pollen that there are baby bees being born in the hive. There were also lots of bees coming and going. And, as an added bonus, I saw 'washboarding' bees. For those of you who have never seen it, it's either a lone bee, or a group of them, steadily rocking back and forth in rhythm. I haven't found a good explanation, but it's sure interesting to watch. (They are lined up above the mouse guard on the left side of the picture below)

Exodus:This hive had more activity going on as well. I saw some orientation flights and lots of bees coming and going.

I'll likely still do a full inspection next week and look for eggs, brood pattern, and check on the second super I put on earlier this week. I'm still preparing a few more podcasts with suggested show topics.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Honey and the County Fair

Here in Boone County Kentucky we have a great fair every summer. This year, I'm really looking forward to entering my honey and a frame of capped honey in the competition. Here are the list of possible entry categories.

Open to the World HONEY - SECTION 402
(Honey is entered in the Vegetable & Crops Bldg. on Monday)

No Class 1st ($5)2nd ($3)3rd ($2)
001 White Extracted Honey 1 lb.
002 Light Amber Extracted Honey 1 lb.
003 Amber Extracted Honey 1 lb.
004 Dark Amber Extracted Honey 1 lb.
005 Chuck Honey 1 lb.
006 Chuck Honey 2½ lb.
007 Frame of Honey, shallow or medium, any color

Episode 009 - Pests and Diseases - Varroa Mites

In this episode, I share ideas for detection and management of one of the most destructive pests that beekeepers will likely come across, the Varroa Mite.

Here is more information on treating for Varroa:

To subscribe via iTunes: Subscribe in iTunes

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hive Inspection - Show Me The Honey!

Time: 11:30 am
Temp: 73'
Weather Conditions: Hazy, Winds Calm

Today I visited my two hives. I realized it had been a while since my last inspection and I needed to cut the grass and weeds around my hives. The weather here has been a combination of both warm and wet which has given plenty of growth opportunity to the plants and flora in the area.

Both hives were extremely quiet. Not too many bees coming or going, no orientation flights, and not much activity when I opened up the hive. I'm not sure what this means and next week when I have more time, I'll have to do a very through inspection. When I checked the supers that I had put on back in April, each frame showed a beautiful amount of capped honey. The frames were about 70-80% complete. I added another super and closed up each hive.

I hope that I'll get at least one really nice frame to show at the fair this year. My friend let me borrow a really nice display case for frames which I'll detail in another post.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Episode 008 - Why Are Winter Beekeeping Losses Acceptable?

In this episode, I share my thoughts about an e-mail exchange with Dr. Tom Webster. Dr. Webster is a specialist in Apiculture at Kentucky State University. He responded to my e-mail question, Why Are Winter Beekeeping Losses Acceptable?

To subscribe via iTunes: Subscribe in iTunes

Here is a copy of my e-mail to him and below, his response (posted with permission).

Dr. Webster,

I'm a second-year beekeeper here in BooneCounty, Northern Kentucky. You may not remember me, but you helped me deal with a Varroa problem this past summer. Thank you.

I'm not what I would call a 'typical' beekeeper and find myself reading numerous resources, including web forums, blogs, books, magazines, and papers on beekeeping. One question, or thought, that continues to perplex me is the idea of winter losses of hives.

Let me explain...

As a beekeeper, I can certainly appreciate that honeybees are susceptible to various diseases and pests, similar to every other domesticated species. I can also appreciate that honeybee biology is very complex and their systems have the potential to be exponentially effected by diseases, pests, pesticides, and other factors due to the way in which they live (i.e. crowded conditions, reproductive cycles, division of labor). However, if I was a rancher and experienced significant losses in my numbers or cattle, or, in this case, the number of hives surviving the winter, how is it that, or why is it, that beekeepers seem to accept significant losses in their numbers and yet, seemingly continue to keep bees in the same manner in which they were lost? One example I recently heard was that a local beekeeper who looses his bees in the winter reasons that "the strong will survive and those that don't, oh well". I find this reasoning to be disturbing. In thinking about this issue, I thought about who I could contact for an academic and educated opinion about the matter. I can only imagine the following...

One, that there are a lot of bad beekeepers. Perhaps they don't manage, or mismanage, their colonies well by providing health treatments, poor location of their hives, not enough supplemental feeding, not monitoring the strength of hive numbers (perhaps having been depleted by swarming), neglect, or some other factor.


Two, that those things that are effecting the bees are so powerful that accepting winter losses is the new paradigm. I know that several older books that I've seen mention dwindling, but certainly not to the degree that it is talked about and mentioned today. How did beekeeping survive to this day?


Three, that the 'way' in which we keep bees has drifted so far from good management practiced by the early pioneers of beekeeping, even going so far back as the earliest records (medieval or earlier). Did early beekeepers have 'acceptable losses' as well? Perhaps using smaller hives, more natural treatments, natural attrition, allowing swarming, etc.


Four, some combination of the above. i certainly hope that I've explained my questions well enough. As a new beekeeper, I certainly want to establish good beekeeping habits by being informed, practicing solid management, and being proactive rather than reactive. That being said, I hope you can shed some light on my question/thoughts.

By the way, I checked my two hives of Italians the other day and they were alive and well.

Thank you.

And, here is his response...

Hello Darcy,

Your thoughts are very well reasoned and bear on much of what is happening in beekeeping. In general, the second point you list is probably the most important in winter losses.

Most of us are struggling with pathogens and parasites that are relatively new to the US. The center stage is occupied by the varroa mite. It is bad enough by itself, but it also seems to make pathogens like Nosema disease worse. The newly discovered Nosema ceranae has become quite widely distributed across the US. We have much to learn about it. I have heard some very alarming reports, mostly from large-scale commercial beekeepers, about enormous colony losses which are probably caused by Nosema ceranae and perhaps other factors. Most difficult are the viruses, which can be detected only by sophisticated techniques. They can be controlled mainly by keeping varroa mite levels low. There are 19 known honey bee viruses, and probably more that are to be discovered.

Your first and third points are significant. Some beekeepers are not managing their bees well. But there have always been bad beekeepers. In much of the country winter losses have become worse, and poor beekeeping cannot really explain this. The third point should be focused on commercial beekeeping activities and perhaps new pesticides that affect the behavior of the bees. The practice of hauling hives thousands of miles for crop pollination has almost certainly caused greater varroa and pathogen problems, both directly and indirectly.

However, many hobby beekeepers are like you: Taking good care of their bees and certainly not driving them across the country. My hunch is that many small scale beekeepers have some level of pathogen in their hives. All of us have varroa mites at some level. Possibly some hives are near pesticide-treated crops. If there is little large-scale farming within a 2 or 3 mile radius around your hives, you can probably rule this out. Tracheal mites and small hive beetles are a problem only for a minority of Kentucky beekeepers.

I have wanted for years to get a better understanding of winter losses. As you say, it's disturbing to see many beekeepers accept these losses. Often this happens with colonies that seemed to be healthy the previous fall.

A big part of the problem is in observing and understanding winter losses. We can't check our hives during winter. In our first spring inspection we might find a sad little cluster of dead bees or, more commonly, no bees at all. We can't do an autopsy without a corpse.

So my approach has been to find a way to monitor bee colony health during winter without disturbing the bees. Last Friday I met with a group of techno-whiz folks at UnivKy. They are designing a system which will allow me to monitor temperatures at many spots within the hive. When the bee cluster temperatures start to drop in a particular hive I will know they are in trouble. Then I can open the hive and collect the bees for examination before they disappear. Understanding the problem is the first step toward controlling it.

For beekeepers who have been over-wintering successfully I suggest: 1) Stay with your current management practices. 2) Keep varroa mites at low levels with screened bottom boards, varroa-resistant bees and "soft" chemicals like Apiguard, Apilife, Mite-away. 3) Avoid buying bees, as that could be a source of new pathogens. If you want to increase your number of hives, split what hives you have (typically in May or early June).

I hope this helps.

Tom Webster

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Episode 007 - Top Bar Hive Beekeeping, Interview With David Beard

In this episode I interview David Beard who is a Top Bar Hive Beekeeper. David's beekeeping is a great alternative to the traditional ten frame Langstroth hive.

For more information on Top Bar Hive Beekeeping, here is David's blog: http://tbhbeek.blogspot.com/

To subscribe via iTunes: Subscribe in iTunes

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Guest Columnist

I wrote the following for the Boone County Recorder, printed Thursday, April 16, 2009.

Thank A Beekeeper

As the trees, shrubs, and flowers in our area awake from their winter slumber, take note of the emergence of another, less appreciated, but no less important, visitor to our gardens, the honeybee. Honeybees are emerging from a long, cold winter and are hungry for nectar and pollen. By now, you have no doubt heard of the plight of the honeybee in the United States and worldwide; disappearing bees, dying hives, and a laundry list of pest and diseases that threaten to wipe out honeybees everywhere. As scientists struggle to come up solutions, let alone reasons for the decline, one may ask, what can I do?

You can encourage honeybees to visit your garden by planting a small area for wildflowers and other plants that honeybees like to visit. Limit the use of pesticide applications, and by all means, if you see a swarm of honeybees this spring, call a local beekeeper, they will usually remove the honeybees for free! Finally, take the time to educate yourself, your children, and your neighbors on the benefits of having honeybees around, and, if you are interested, become a beekeeper yourself.

At the very least, thank a local beekeeper. After all, they are working (or their bees are) to put food on your table. The local fresh fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market, grocery store, and get from your own backyard garden are the direct result of pollination by honeybees.

If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper here in Northern Kentucky, please visit the Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Association website at http://nkybeekeeepersclub.blogspot.com/.

Darcy Pach is a member of the Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Association, the host of “The Beekeeping Podcast”, and a local beekeeper in Burlington, KY.

Circular Bees

While visiting my hives last week I snapped a few pictures. I was looking at one of them in more detail and I saw something that is rather odd. Look how the bees have arranged themselves. The queen was not on this frame...at the very least, it's odd.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 006 - Weather for Beekeepers

The weather plays a big part in the beekeepers life. Not only are there good and bad times to check your hives, but also great websites that beekeepers can use to help them get the most out of good weather opportunities.

I also mention these websites in this episode:

Listener Sites:

Weather Websites:

To subscribe via iTunes: Subscribe in iTunes

Thursday, April 9, 2009

First Sting and Reversing Spring Hives

Today was one of the warmer days forecasted for the week so I headed out to the hives. First and foremost, my goals were simple, to reverse each of the brood boxes in order to assist in preventing swarming and to super my hives in hopes of catching some of the spring nectar flow. Because bees move up high in the hive during the winter the bees think they are running out of room so they swarm. Reversing the brood boxes gives the bees plenty of room upstairs. The spring nectar flow is on, so I may be able to catch some of the nice, light spring honey.

When I arrived at the hives I saw plenty of activity outside of each one. Here's how each one looked:

Genesis Observations: A hive full of bees. Bees everywhere! Lots of capped brood, burr comb, and drone comb. The top and bottom brood box had ample stores of honey, nice dark, capped with almost a blackish color wax. I was challenged by multiple bees and the smoker kept them at bay for the most part. However, several bees made it up my pant leg and one managed to sting me. The effect was lessoned by my thick white sock, where later I found the stinger. It felt like a needle prick. No redness or swelling, but I doubt that I got anywhere near the full effect.

This hive looks strong. Plenty of bees, honey, and activity that gives me confidence in the health of this hive. I removed the screened bottom board tray and saw lots of pollen, debris, and yes, mites. I'll have to do a spring count soon. No swarm cells.

Exodus Observations: This hive has always been the weaker? of the two. I'm glad I can compare them. These bees are generally smaller in size, a little more lethargic, but willing to challenge me quicker then Genesis. There were plenty of bees, some capped brood, and I managed to spot Mrs. Exodus herself making her rounds. She was in the bottom brood box in the middle frame. Surprisingly, the frames were not as full of honey like Genesis, but the bees were packing in pollen and some nectar. I'd say that this hive was 1/2 of the weight, population, and capped brood of Genesis. Similarly, the screened bottom board tray was full of debris and dead mites, at least 6 months worth of gunk.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Interesting Article on Colony Collapse Disorder

I just read an article, published by the BBC on March 5, 2009, regarding Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD has been blamed for the recent disappearance and/or failure of honeybee hives around the world. According to the article, in the U.S. alone, over TWO MILLION hives have been lost! There are dozens of theories about the exact causes of this phenomenon, but no hard evidence as of yet. The basic gist of the article is that some scientists believe that there is no one direct cause of CCD and that it may be, in fact, due to multiple events including rise in parasite populations, agriculture methods, etc. In fact, large population declines may be a natural part of honeybee populations.

I think this article demonstrates the lack of information that science has with regard to honeybees and the complex relationship to the environment honeybees have. So, if science can't solve the problem, what can?

I think good honeybee management practices by beekeepers, even hobby beekeepers, is a start. Taking good care of hives, educating yourself on pest and disease management, and promoting beekeeping within your community is something every beekeeper can do.

Your thoughts?

Here's a link to the article: 'No Proof' of Killer Bee Theory

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 005 - Location, Location, Location

It really matters where your bees call 'home'. If you bees aren't happy with the location, you won't be maximizing their efficiency. In this episode, I discuss how to choose the right location for your hive. And, even if you can't keep bees on your own property, I'll share with you some ideas on how to find someone who will 'host' your hives.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Beekeeping Podcast, Now on iTunes...Sort Of

Finally, after a few days of technical difficulties, The Beekeeping Podcast is now available for download on iTunes. Search for "beekeeping" or click here to subscribe on iTunes. You can always listen online by clicking here.

However, from time to time, it keeps disappearing. Therefore, if you don't see it, just click on the link above to subscribe via iTunes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 004 - Record Keeping for Beekeepers

In this episode I discuss why good record keeping is important for beekeepers.

Be sure to record your observations, the weather, ideas, notes, photographs, videos, and anything else related to your beekeeping. You'll really enjoy looking back on it one day and see how far you've come.

If you would like to keep a blog about your beekeeping, you can sign up for a free blog here.

To subscribe via iTunes: Subscribe in iTunes

Listen Now:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 003 - Beginner Beekeeping Kits

In this episode, I share my thoughts on beginning beekeeping kits, the differences, and I give my recommendation for purchasing one.

Show Notes:

Beginner kits range in price from about $130-$300

There are significant differences between beginner kits. The main differences are in the type (wood or plastic) and amount woodenware (number of brood chambers and supers supplied) and a veil or suit. Other more minor differences will be in the accessories (i.e. smoker fuel, included book, or tools)

If you're on a limited budget, then a simpler kit is fine. Realize that you want to harvest honey have to add on at some point soon. If you're serious about beekeeping, by all means, get a deluxe type kit and go for it! You'll save a little money and have everything you need (except bees) to get started today...

To subscribe via iTunes: The Beekeeping Podcast

Listen Now:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 002 - Honey Flow Chart, Bee Updates, and A Book of Bees (Review)

In this episode of The Beekeeping Podcast, I share my thoughts on my Honeyflow Chart, give an update on my hives, Genesis and Exodus, and also do a brief book review of A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell.

To subscribe via iTunes: The Beekeeping Podcast

Listen Now:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

First Feeding of the Year

Today's temperatures got into the mid 60's so I took advantage of the mild weather and went out to the hives. Although it was extremely windy with strong gusts, I decided to feed the bees an extra supplement of syrup to keep them from starving. We've had a pretty good winter here, as predicted in my previous post about the Woolly Worms.
The winter recipe for syrup that I used is 2 1/2 quarts of water and 10 lbs of sugar. I used a total of 30 lbs of sugar. Each hive feeder was filled to the brim. Hopefully, this will be enough to carry the bees until the first bloom, which, according to my chart, should be the maple trees.
Both hives had plenty of activity with bees coming and going. The bees on top of the frames were a little lethargic, but that's to be expected.

One very interesting observation I made was the amount of dead bees outside of both hives. The 'undertaker bees', the ones responsible for carrying out the dead inside the hive, were very busy.

Below are two pictures, although not as clear as I like (I've made it a point to take better pictures this year)

Here is Genesis: Lot's of activity.

The work of the 'undertakers'.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 001 - Starting Off Right, Five Things

In this episode of The Beekeeping Podcast I recommend five things that a beginner beekeeper can do to get started off right in beekeeping.

Here They Are:

1. Join a local beekeeping club
2. Buy or borrow 'Beekeeping for Dummies'
3. Order equipment catalogues from equipment suppliers
4. Find a beekeeping mentor
5. Attend a local beekeeping class, seminar, or workshop.

To subscribe via iTunes: The Beekeeping Podcast

Listen Now:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2009 Beekeeping Plans

Over the winter I've thought about what I would like to do with my beekeeping during the 2009 season. Last year was my first year and I spent quite a bit of time reading, researching, and just figuring it all out. This year, I plan on doing a few new things, here's what I was thinking about:

1. Podcasting "The Beekeeping Podcast" - Last year, I actually did two episodes of this, but I really wasn't committed. This year, I've got a new microphone and much more material. My main goal is to encourage other people who are just beginning or thinking about getting stated in beekeeping. I hope you'll tune in.

2. Catch a Swarm - After reading so much about swarming, I now want to catch one. I just don't want to see my hives swarm. I've got a swarm box ready and I'm waiting for a phone call from someone who knows where an easy hive to catch is. Last year, I got several calls about 'removing' bees from the inside walls of houses or eradicating hornets, no way. This year, I'd like to start a third hive with a swarm.

3. Photograph More - I've thought about trying to photograph all of the relevant honey flow sources here in Kentucky. The idea would be to share this with other beekeepers to help identify bloom times and kinds of honey they are getting. I also enjoy looking back over my first year in pictures and have committed to taking more detailed pictures for my blog.

4. Enter My Honey In The Local Fair - Last year I only saw one jar of honey at the fair. This year, I'll be entering mine and I hope to encourage others to do the same. Non-beekeepers can't appreciate what they don't see. Besides, I like those blue ribbons!

5. More to come...

Friday, February 13, 2009

They've Survived

Today's temps got to 50' so I went to check on the hives. I gently tapped on each one and heard them respond with buzzing. That means they're alive and well. I'm so thankful because here in Northern Kentucky we've had a cold, wet winter here. Beekeepers across the country dread this time of year because, in some parts of the country, winter losses are over 50%.

Both hives seed to have good food stores, although Exodus was a little lighter than Genesis.

Now, I'll prepare for a little late winter feeding, and on the next warm day, load them up.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A New Year in Beekeeping

With the turn of the calendar so begins my second year as a beekeeper. I'm very thankful to all the people who helped me my first year, including those of you who read my blog. I'm encouraged every time I look at the visitor map and see the red dots from new locations and those that grow bigger. I know some of you are non-beekeeping friends and family. Thank you for allowing me to share my experience with you.

As for 2009, I have a few interesting ideas, including cataloging local honey sources here in Northern Kentucky, entering my honey in the local county fair, and continuing to encourage new people to start beekeeping.

There are several beekeeping schools coming up in the local area. If you are interested, please check out this link to the Kentucky State Apiarist. There, Phil gives all the details of upcoming classes, but you have to sign up early for most of these as they fill up very fast.

I look forward to hearing from you all.