Viewer mail

Margaret writes:
I am a beginner beekeeper (two hives in March, one swarmed in June, now three hives) located in Tacoma, Washington.

When I added a Langstroth honey super to my strongest hive, Demeter, I did not include the plastic foundation, wanting the bees to make their own comb a la Backwards Beekeepers. The bees have been having a great time, making lots of beautiful comb and filling the cells up with honey. The problem is that the comb goes every which way, sticking frames together and making it impossible to pull a frame without ruining the adjacent frames.

Do I leave this as is and give all the honey to the bees (which I wouldn't mind doing at all)? Do I rip it all out and start again (I think that would be a sin!)? Do I add another honey super with plastic (or wax) foundation above or below the "which way" super? Do I add another honey super with frames and no foundation and hope that the bees have time to fill that super before autumn?

I have to admit that I would like to get a tiny bit of honey from my hives this year but my main goal is to have the bees overwinter well. My other Langstroth hive, Artemis, is the one that swarmed. I may get a frame (with foundation) of honey from that one. The third hive, a top bar hive named Minerva, is doing well and I might get a bit of honey from that one as well.

Please help me! I want to do right by the bees!


Backwards Beekeepers, please weigh in on this.


July meeting recap: Honey tasting!

The Backwards Beekeepers met this last Sunday at Farmlab in downtown LA, and as usual we had a lot of new and aspiring beekeepers in attendance. We also had a tasting that featured five different honeys from LA Backwards Beekeeper hives.

The variation of flavors among them was amazing—it shows what a diverse collection of plant life we have here in LA for our bees to feed on.

Keep an eye on the blog for the date and time of our next meeting, which will be in late August.


Backwards Beekeepers TV: Hive War

I recently watched one of our hives get attacked by another bunch of bees. By the time I got a hold of a camera, the damage was done—but I had Kirk come over to do his specialized bee detective work.

Here's the result: Hive War! Soundtrack by Black Sabbath, of course.

More Backwards Beekeepers TV Episodes


Next Meeting: Sunday, July 25th

The next LA Backwards Beekeepers meeting is upon us!

When: Sunday, July 25 at 11am
Where: Under Spring outdoor space at Farmlab in downtown L.A.

More success stories of Backwards Beekeeping, tips, wisdom, and good times.

Also: Honey tasting! If you're a Backwards Beekeeper and you've harvested honey this year, here's your chance to show off—bring some for the group to sample.

Newbies always welcome. Please take a look through this blog beforehand, as it may answer many of your questions. Also, pick up a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping—it's a great introduction to the treatment-free beekeeping style that we promote.

Farmlab Directions

You want to follow the above directions most of the way, but park on Aurora and walk through the alley (under Spring) to the meeting.

Check out this view to see what it looks like from the street.


Petal gets some honey

Kirk writes:
Here are two pics of Petal. She took over the hive at Crenshaw Garden from Anna; now she's harvested some honey.

That hive has been going for about four years now. Take the honey once or twice a year, that's all, nothing else. Leave the bees alone.



Kirk finds pizza comb at Leonardo's

Kirk writes:

I'm so happy. I cut some bees out of a swarm trap at Leonardo's today. It was full of circlar comb like pancakes. I put them in a nuc box. We then looked at Leonardo's hive. It swarmed this spring. It has a new queen and many combs of brood—wonderful pattern. They are also putting honey away in the top box.

Also, Petal got two boxes of honey from her hive at the Crenshaw garden.




Honey Variations-Same Harvest

This week I harvested another couple of frames of honey. We have seen a tremendous difference in the honey over the course of the year but this time it was really apparent in the two frames I pulled.

You can see the difference in the bucket before the crush and strain.

We decided to do a taste test. The lighter honey on the left almost certainly came from citrus; it had a very light almost lemony sharpness to it. The darker honey on the right was more flavorful and had more of a caramel flavor to it.

It would have been great to keep them separate but I had already put them in the bucket and figured it would be cool to find out what the 50/50 blend would taste like. It's kind of like blended Scotch vs. single malt.

I think that over time I might be able to look for signs when one flow is ending and another beginning to keep the honey strains more discrete.

Cross Posted on Ramshackle Solid


Denice's first cut-out

Los Angeles Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
Denice has just started beekeeping and wanted more experience so we went to Culver City to rescue some bees stuck in a fence. It was her first cut out. Pretty easy access with just a few screws removed.

We peeked in and saw several combs. Not the best laying pattern but it was working.

We even saw bees emerging as we tied the comb into frames.

We filled a medium box and had leftovers that we put into a cardboard box. The fence looked pretty good after removing all the comb.

In the end Mary, the homeowner, was pretty happy.

Denice is a natural beekeeper and pointed out that shaking the bees of the comb would clear the comb and it worked perfectly. By the next day she was going out on her own catching swarms and doing cut outs!



Fourth of July honey

Lawndale Backwards Beekeeper Dennis did a combination of swarm transfer, hive inspection, and honey harvest this weekend, assisted by Los Angeles Backwards Beekeepers John L. and son Arguna.

The story is on Dennis' blog:
John L. arrived with his 11 year old son Arguna (with his own bee suit). We would inspect the hives, make any honey decisions and he would leave with a nuc of nice gentle bees. This was a win-win-win situation. Arguna would learn more about beekeeping, so would I and I had time to take some pictures...

We had almost no aggessive behavior out either hive. I think they may have swarmed and I did not know about it. In the process the new queen may have mated with nicer bees. I am guessing about that but I am very happy with the quality and amount of honey they are producing...

Arguna gave his taste of approval. The honey was left to drain while I took the dogs out of town away from the noise of fireworks...

Honey Of A Fourth (The Buzz In The Dale)


Maurice mentors a swarm capture

Albert, a new Los Angeles Backwards Beekeeper, recently got his first bees. He writes about this video:

Maurice from Santa Monica caught a swarm and we transferred it to my hive. They were slow to start, but then raced right into the hive. But then apparently the queen must have flown out of the hive to the nearby fence, so the swarm followed her (yikes!). Maurice then sort of shook the swarm off the fence into a bucket, which he then literally just dumped into the top of the hive. That seemed to work (lucky!), and the swarm on the fence dissipated, and the remaining bees on the ground in front of the hive all went into the hive. This all took about 4 hours.

Maurice has become one of the most active bee rescuers in the city. He frequently posts to our Yahoo Group after collecting swarms or hives that people have called in to the Bee Rescue Hotline.

By the way, notice that the swarm-catchers are working sleeveless and gloveless—bees in a swarm are almost always docile and disinclined to sting.