Archive for the ‘news’ Category

NY Swarms in the news

“One swarm covered the side-view mirror of a Volvo station wagon in a lot by the Hudson River, trapping a family of three inside. Another humming cluster the size of a watermelon bent a tree branch in front of a Chase Bank on the Lower East Side, attracting a crowd of gasping onlookers. And for several hours, thousands of bees carpeted a two-foot-tall red standpipe on the patio of a South Street Seaport restaurant, sending would-be outdoor diners elsewhere. “

Free Webinar by Dr Seeley on bee swarming today!


ForestConnect Webinar Series
How Honeybees Choose a Forest Home
Thomas Seeley, Cornell University
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior
May 16, 2012  (my mt – Hey! I don’t know the exact time, I think you have to register first!)
Early Alert – register here ( )if you haven’t
previously registered.

How Honeybees Choose a Forest Home. In the late spring and early
summer, when a honeybee colony becomes overcrowded in its hive, it will
cast a swarm. When this happens, about a third of the worker bees stay
at home and rear a new queen, thereby perpetuating the mother colony,
while the other two-thirds of the workforce – a crowd of some ten
thousand – rushes off with the old queen to set up a daughter colony.
The migrating bees travel only about 100 feet before coalescing into a
beardlike cluster hanging from a tree branch. Here they will remain
bivouacked for a few days. During this time, several hundred of its
oldest bees will spring into action as nest-site scouts, explore about
30 square miles of the surrounding landscape for potential nesting
cavities in trees and buildings, locate a dozen or more possibilities,
and democratically select a favorite for their new dwelling place. We
will see how can a bunch of tiny-brained bees, hanging from a tree
branch, can make such a complex decision and can make it well. Presented
by Dr. Tom Seeley, Cornell University Department of Neurobiology and

This webinar has been approved for 1.0 credits of Society of American
Foresters CFE category 2.

Once registered, you will receive connection details the Tuesday before
the webinar.

First Swarm of 2012


I’ve heard reports of the first swarm of 2012 on Feb 29.  I think our season is 2 week ahead of our normal schedule here in Texas.  So if you are going to be swarm trapping, you should put your traps out 1-2 weeks before your first known swarm. For Texas, that date just got moved up to about Feb 20 for next year.

The bloom is already out in the Texas Hill Country. I saw Henbit, and wild Mustard in late January. Irises blooming in February and mayflies out in late February, so it looks like a weird Spring.  Right now my bees are bringing in plenty of pollen and aren’t eating much pollen patties.  Pollen is yellow and a little bright red. (no idea). Mountain Laurel and dandelion is being worked.

I’ve already seen Bluebonnets out and our major honeyflow plant, Indian Blanket, shows up after Bluebonnets. So that may show early and stay a while.

Swarm Trap Book makes top 100


Maybe not top 100 for all of Amazon, but it really does well under “Insects and Spiders”

A definative guide to swarm traps for the beginner

I’m not sure if I should be proud or just laugh at myself. Still a book over 80,000 is good on Amazon. So I’m happy being at 23,000, It is a vote of confidence by beekeepers that my swarm trap book is useful and worthwhile.

Spring is a comin’ to Texas


Just spent a week out in east Texas, I see several things blooming already, mainly the wild mustard. These early blooms are very important for protein sources for new bees. So I’m getting ready for some spring craziness.

I’d recommend putting on 1/2 lb of pollen patties for those in Texas as the drought really knocked our hives in the teeth last year.  As much as I dislike feeding, last year and this spring will be an exception for me. If the bees don’t eat it within 4 days, don’t give them more — they likely are getting better pollen in the wild.

I do have expectations that this spring will provide a honey crop. The rain has restored soil to normal levels according to NOAA soil moisture maps, which means nectar in flowers. My main problem was that I lost half my hives and am down to 5.  But I expect to split a good bit this spring and make videos of that, too.

Vertical Hives are cool


I’m always hip to seeing new, funky hives, here is a interesting blog on Verticals.

“After reading about David Heaf’s modified Warre’ Hive and Ian Rumsey’s Simple Beehive and Beekeeping, and browsing through the material at Phil Chandler’s Biobees site, I wondered if a vertical tbh might be the ultimate natural comb hive.

It’s shape and orientation are a better approximation to the natural tree cavities bees prefer. And it’s modular design provides much more flexibility than does a fixed sized horizontal tbh…”

Documentary I made on Bee Smokers with Dr. Paul Jackson


This summer I had time to go visit with the Texas State Entomologist, Dr. Paul Jackson.

He has a phenomenal collection of bee smokers and the lore that surrounds them. I couldn’t help but make a documentary on it. Granted, a bit sloppy on the editing, but effective.

Free Basic Beekeeping Manual for NGOs & Peace Corps Volunteers


This one goes out to my friends in Peace Corps and NGOs.

I’m a really, really big fan of Pam Gregory and her beekeeping work. She has also created the best manual for third world beekeeping out there.  This 71 page manual is not just about how to do beekeeping in the bush, but the basic  life cycle of the bee a beekeeper needs to know, it covers how to harvest, what equipment to build, how to make a bee suit from a rice sack, and how to package honey that will sell in local markets.  The real vertical knowledge base a beekeeper truely needs to know to make it.Basic Beekeeping manual

With foundation grant money from Waterloo, her manual is now released as a free download. Basic Beekeeping manula

You can find it at

I’ve been told it will also be available soon at
The FAO Agricultural Technologies and Practices TECA website

The International Development pages of the National Bee Unit’s BeeBase website

Practical Action

Bees Abroad


The volumes available:


  • The Basic Beekeeping Manual English
  • The Basic Beekeeping Manual French
  • The Basic Beekeeping Manual Kiswahili
  • The Basic Beekeeping Manual Chichewa
  • The Basic Beekeeping Manual Shona
  • The Basic Beekeeping Manual Kinyarwandan
  • The Basic Beekeeping Manual Hausa (from August 2011)
  • The Advanced Beekeeping Manual English
  • The Advanced Beekeeping Manual  Shona (from August 2011)


Video of Beekeeping of Apis Dorsata aka Giant Honeybees


I’ve seen honey hunters cutting down the door sized single combs that Dorsata bees build. Normally the hunters are poor and they cut down the entire comb honey and all. The honey is drained, the brood might be eaten,

and the wax will be sold.  But this video shows honey hunters who are professionals, harvesting holes of honey from the combs in a sustainable way. Quite fascinating.

Back From the Texas Beekeeping Conference


Met lots of folks, learned much, and made lots of video for my fans. I even got to see and film the coronation of the new honey queen.

The main lessons from the technical track was that we should be feeding our bees in September to survive best over the winter. Also, that feeding will really help a hive with dealing with Nosema.

I also learned of a toxic honey plant in Texas that is (thankfully) reasonably rare, called ‘Snow on the Mountain’ which you can find more about here:

Snow on the Mountain