Archive for April, 2011

Giant Honey Bee aka Apis Dorsata


Here is a fun, short video on hunting honey from the Giant Honey Bee. Clearly shot oversees by amateurs, it shows the technology used in 3rd world countries.

Note that Apis Dorsata only builds one comb, and it can get to be the size of a door.



Swarm Traps working – 2 more caught


Mailed off my state sales taxes today, on the way home I checked on 3 swarm traps.  Two have caught swarms, traps T4 & T12, as I saw lots of activity and foragers bringing in pollen.  I love swarm traps!  Good think I’m writing a book on it and making a DVD. Book should be done within 2 months.


Anyway, of my 30 swarm traps, 5 of sidelined. Either waiting for swap outs (2), or to be repaired (3) and put in service.  I haven’t checked some  since I hung them.Swarm Traps catch bees, do you have some?


So that brings my trap count up to 4 plus one manually caught swarm. That puts me at 16% success rate and the flow isn’t even here yet.  This bone dry spring is really hurting the bees, last year we had a banner year.  This year my lawn is brown and the only thing growing is in my little hydroponics in my backyard.

Dry Spring and only the hydroponics are doing well.

Drought continues but Mesquite honeyflow starts


Frank and I are back from my outyard. The bad news is that I lost almost all of my nucs. This drought in central texas has gotten pretty bad. There are flowers, but little nectar in them. The ants are looking for anything, and I’m forced to feed which attracts them.  So at this point I have more falled nucs than Iran.  2 TBH nucs are hanging on, so I gave them more bees and a frame of eggs, as one was queenless.  Only 1 lang nuc was alive, and I couldn’t find a queen in it.  All 3 got fed, assuming they don’t have the foragers for the Mesquite flow.


The silver lining is that the reports of Mesquite trees having a rare early flow is true. It looks like it began about a week ago if I go by posts from fellow beeks nearby in Dripping Springs and Seguin. For those beeks who don’t understand the fickle nature of Mesquite honeyflows, here’s the quick briefing: Mesquite is the biggest honeyflow in the state of Texas, when it flows.  But the tree is water fickle in an inverse way – meaning that it blooms when their is a dry spell and it stops blooming after a rain. In rare conditions it does a double bloom, once in April and once in June. Scientist say each tree produces between 1,000 – 2,000 grams of nectar per day. But all a beekeeper cares about is what is brought into the hive. And that depends upon the hive population, which is low, this year.


My strong TBHs are booming and kicking, with the first surplus honey going into white comb. I dropped lots of spare combs from the failed nucs into these hives to give them instant storage space.  I also moved 2 swarms caught in swarms traps out to the outyard, and moved them into Lang bodies. Ironically, they are doing better than the overwintered Langs I have.

Ancient Beekeeping in Egypt


Yea, it is Spring and I should be busy keeping my hives from swarming. But I got distracted when I came across this nifty page on Ancient Egyptian Beekeeping.

Nifty stuff, old and new hives look the same.

Saving the world from my desk Chair


So I’m a quiet member of Kiva, the microloan folks. When I began, I just loaned to sub-Saharan African women, due to my knowledge of the conditions there.  But I joined a ‘group’ on Kiva called the ‘endangered beekeepers’, and now they email everyone when a lendee pops up who’s a beekeeper. We all jump on the loan and if you aren’t fast, that beekeeper is already funded.

It’s a fun way to beekeep without beekeeping. Helping a fellow beekeeper in Armenia, Tanzania, or Turkey get more hives and operating funds to expand. Over there, they are profitable without government subsidies, more than we can say in the US where we have an extra $4 artificially boosting our honey price thanks to the honey packers lobbyists.Georgian beekeeper

I do get a kick out of seeing some of the pictures showing their apiaries. You don’t always see them, but it does make me smile.  This woman is Naziko in Georgia, and her hive stands are built to last.

Kiva is easy, just join and you can loan as little as $25 per lendee.  I’ve been kicking around $300 for over 5 years, never had a bad loan, but had lots of quiet smiles.

Swarm captured on wall


Got a call forwarded from the local dispatcher, you know the guys who answer 911. They call me when when they get a 911 call for bees, it is the price I pay for my civic duty as a volunteer as the fire department beekeeper for sting attacks.


Anyway, the swarm was at 4 feet on a wall in a nice subdivision. Couldn’t ask for anything more. Well, I could have asked that they be on a branch not a immovable wall. Anyway, a quick brush job and I was done in 30 minutes. I did offer to put up a swarm trap to prevent this from happening again.

Bees swarming on a wall

Cutting out a Lang to transfer to a Top Bar Hive


I got a question the other day that is re-occuring and wanted to answer it here.

“I’ve got this cross combed Lang that I want to move to a top bar hive since I have to cut into it anyway” – Anon. fan


First, Pick your battles.  Transferring an established lang to a Top Bar Hive is a silly battle 95% of the time.

If your goal is to :

1. De-cross comb it, then take the bottom crossed deep. Put down a cloth on the ground, flip the deep upside down, Push all the frames out in one lump, then easily seperate all the frames and put them back into the deep fixed.


2. Starting a new TBH, then go thru process 1, but find the queen. Put her in the TBH, Shake in 3 frames of bees. Cut a single comb out with eggs in it (to anchor them from absconding)  attach this to a bar with string.   Finally swap hive places with the lang, so the TBH gets all the field bees.  The lang will recover and re-queen while the new TBH nuc will immediately build out comb and start re-brooding instantly.