Backyard Beekeeping Blog

The Basics of Bearding

Bees Bearding
We've gotten a lot of questions this year from new beekeepers regarding bees clustering on the front of their hives. What is it? Why are bees doing it? Is it normal? Should it be discouraged? It's an easy answer, with one or two caveats.

WHAT ARE THEY DOING? 

It's called bearding, as the bees seem to form a fuzzy beard on the hive and hang out in a cluster.

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Did Pesticides or Starvation Kill Those Bees?

Dead bees on a bottom board

Almost two weeks ago on the sunny morning of June 19th I visited Dena Rash Guzman's beautiful 60 acre organic farm where she keeps, among other things, her honey bees that make up Lusted Road Honey Company. I was there to aid in the inspection of her colonies housed in a variety of hive designs -- Langstroth, Warre and horizontal top bar hives. She told me she was particularly concerned about the Warre hive, as in the past day or so she's seen a tremendous number of dead bees suddenly appear on the bottom board. 

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Why Hobby Beekeeping Matters

Spring Bee InspectionIn the Pacific NW, whether you are a seasoned beek or a novice, your bee season has already begun. Packages (of bees) and nucleus hives have arrived, swarms have started, but this isn't a normal season already.

The Portland Urban Beekeepers (PUB) estimate hive losses in the area last year at a troubling 45%. Researcher Dr. Dewey Caron estimates local losses at 70%.

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2014 Package Bees a Success!

Package Honey BeesIt's been a long couple weeks, but we (and 1.2 million honey bees) survived! This year we brought 120 Russian-Carniolan hybrid bee packages from Vacaville, California to rainy Portland, Oregon. They were created on the afternoons of Thursday, April 24th and May 1st, given some fondant for the trip (no liquid feed allowed on airplanes), taken to Delta and loaded as cargo.

The first week went splendidly. The bees made a detour to Atlanta (apparently no direct cargo flights to Portland) and then arrived on the morning of April 25th. We immediately whisked them from the tarmac to our truck, sprayed them with syrup to replenish them after a long trip. They looked fantastic; the strongest packages we've seen! They were taken to our store where they huddled together on a couple pallets until 50+ customers arrived in waves on Saturday morning. I gave install tutorials to customers who needed it, and others checked in, took their packages and left. 

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Top Bar Hive Plans

Top bar hive plansThey are finally finished! It took a few months longer than expected, but the plans to make our top bar hive are ready for purchase and immediate download from this page: http://www.beethinking.com/products/top-bar-hive-plans

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January 25, 2014

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bees › varroa ›


From the Beekeeper's Desk

Varroa mite on bee Beekeeping is like any faction of agriculture. Just as there are a hundred ways to grow carrots, there are hundreds of ways to keep bees, given the available components and philosophies. With this in mind, there is a surprising phenomenon beekeepers encounter early on when they become new beekeepers which is extreme prejudice, peer pressure, and mockery if they choose a path other than using commercial-type Langstroth hives and treatments. To explain this further, I need to take a side-step and head down a small, well-worn rabbit hole...

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Mother Earth News Fair

It's officially Fall and the rain has arrived in Portland, Oregon. The Bee Thinking team just returned from Seven Springs, Pennsylvania where we attended the Mother Earth News Fair along with around 15,000 other amazing people. As usual, it was a great time and we enjoyed meeting our customers and making new ones! Next month, October 12th-13th, we'll be at the first annual Lawrence, Kansas Mother Earth News Fair. Matt will be speaking at 12:30PM on Saturday, October 12th if you're attending. We hope to see you there!

The team in the booth, ready for action:

Mother Earth News Fair Booth

Here's Matt speaking about Beginning Beekeeping to a packed crowd at the Grit Stage:

Matt Speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair

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