Sunday meeting recap

Last Sunday's meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers featured a demo of a great trap-out method by Roberta, tales of a precarious bee rescue by Max, and a new hive stand by Maurice.

If you're interested in getting started with beekeeping, our monthly meeting is a great way to get introduced to the process.

And here's Kirk modeling the new Backwards Beekeepers hoodie, which made its debut at Sunday's meeting and is available only as a special order. Keep an eye on the blog for your next opportunity to get one.

Local Honey Dinner at Canele Tonight!


I'll be cooking a 3-course local honey-driven dinner at Canele Restaurant in Atwater Village tonight as part of their "Friends Cook" program.

The menu is below...hope you can make it!


    Feral Honey, Silver Lake (May Harvest)

    with honeyed corn pudding & something green
    Feral Honey, Silver Lake (June Harvest)

    Kirk’s Urban Honey, Eagle Rock (Kirk Anderson) - kirkslocalhoney.com
    Sticky Acres, Mt. Washington (Max Wong) - myromanapartment.com
    Camp Waterloo, Echo Park (Sue Talbot)
    Feral Honey, Silver Lake (Russell Bates & Amy Seidenwurm) - feralbee.com

* Non-meat eaters will get shell beans instead of chicken.


Next Meeting: Sunday, August 29th!

The August Backwards Beekeepers meeting is upon us!

When: Sunday, August 29 at 11am
Where: Under Spring outdoor space at Farmlab in downtown L.A.

    Come on down! Everyone is welcome.

    We'll also have Backwards Beekeepers t-shirts for sale—including size XXL! All shirts cost $15. And if you ordered a Backwards Beekeepers hoodie a few weeks ago, it will be at the meeting for you to pick up.

    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.


    Mother Nature Network visits the Backwards Beekeepers

    Rachel Whitman, who blogs for Mother Nature Network, paid us a visit recently and wrote a nice piece about the experience.

    During my visit to the Feral Bee hives, Russell and Amy introduced me to Los Angeles honey bee wrangler extraordinaire, Kirk Anderson. Kirk has a ton of experience with bees, and is an excellent ambassador for the Backwards Beekeepers. His bee-loving spirit is infectious, and his way with hives is amazing. Kirk urged me to check out one of his inspirations, the apiarist Charles Martin Simon, who's a pretty intense guy. Simon grapples with the full spectrum of honey bee behavior: the swarming, the social order, the naturally occurring wisdom and the wildness that leads to their inexplicable, sometimes fatal decisions. Tending honey bee hives as Simon does is not just about entomology — it holds a touch of philosophy, as well.

    Suffice it to say, I'm hooked. And in my quest to become more environmentally connected in the urban jungle that is Los Angeles, and to share my eco-adventures with the MNN audience, I joined the Backwards Beekeepers Yahoo! Group and am planning to mix and mingle with them and others interested in local agriculture and the like at the meeting later this month.

    Bees Gone Wild (Mother Nature Network)


    Kirk's travels: Wax moths, absconding bees, victory

    Kirk says:
    OK had a busy week. I decided to go to Jody's those bees never ever got going. I found wax worms. I cut all the stuff out. They ate every bit of comb—everything.

    So I say I'm going to get the garbage can bees and take them to Jody's. The kids met me there at 4 in the morning to watch. But the bees from the garbage can had left—no bees.

    Lucky for me I had removed some bees from a water meter box in La Crescenta the day before, and I had them with me.

    I took them to Jody's and put them on a hive box.

    I'll go put them in the hive this next week end.


    Here's Kirk's audio of the story:


    Foundationless success in Canada

    Check out Phillip, who blogs about beekeeping (among other things) from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada—he's finding success as a Backwards Beekeeper in a place with a very short summer indeed.
    The foundationless frames are working. YES! This is what it’s all about it. This was the big moment of truth — and they did it. The bees had no problem building comb from foundationless frames...

    Next summer when we can hopefully harvest some honey, we’ll go with foundationless frames for the honey supers too.

    That way when the honey is capped and good to go, we’ll just cut the comb right out of the frames and extract it by following the crush-and-strain method.

    I’m feeling encouraged by what we’ve seen today. I’d love to be the first successful Backwards Beekeeper in Newfoundland.

    Natural Foundationless Comb (Phillip on Mud Songs)


    Finishing a cut-out job

    LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta, working with new beekeeper Julia (above), follows up on her previous post about the Pomegranate bees meeting the wall bees:
    I went back to Peter's wall because there were still bees everywhere a week after Patrick and I cut out the hive.

    Julia, a senior in high school, wants to become a beekeeper. She is brave, smart and a natural with the bees. It looked like they were higher up in the wall so we took more siding down. There were a whole bunch of bees and what looked like a second hive!

    I scooped a whole bunch of bees into a box and pulled out several pieces of comb. There were bees everywhere but in 10 minutes they were all in the box so we knew we had the queen.

    After 5 hours they were mostly in the box and by the night every single bee was home. Julia is going to be a great beekeeper and is ready to have her own hive. The bees now have a new home at Penny's.



    Bees are not garbage

    Kirk went to San Gabriel to rescue a bee hive that had made its home in a garbage can.

    While there, he met Sebastian and Kathryn, who wanted to lend a hand.

    Here's Kirk telling the story:

    Here's Sebastian's side of things:

    And Kathryn adds:


    Pomegranate bees, meet wall bees

    LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta is a force of nature!

    Her latest dispatch:
    Patrick [above] needed a colony for his new custom hive. So we went to cut out a hive from a pomegranate tree which was really pretty but with twigs in it every which way.

    The bees were very grumpy and possibly queenless as the brood was all over the place with lots of drones and no eggs. There were also several queen cells.

    After we tied in the comb the bees seemed to really like Patrick's new hive. But we weren't sure if there was a queen so I thought adding some brood from a cut out might help.

    This brings us to Peter, who had a wall hive that he wanted cut out because he started to hear the bees chewing the wall from inside the house: possible brood for Patrick's bees!

    After cutting away the siding we found nice brood comb sandwiched between lots of honey. The bees were covered with the honey and they were busy cleaning each other off.

    Patrick took some brood and I put some brood in a box with the hope that maybe the queen was in there but no such luck. The bees went back into the wall. So this cut-out is a work in progress.


    ‘Beyond the Hive’ - A Hotel for Insects

    Arup Associates has won a competition to design a hotel for insects. ‘Beyond the Hive’ was sponsored by British Land and the City of London to celebrate 2010 as the International year of Biodiversity.

    Full article: 'Beyond the Hive’ - A Hotel for Insects


    What have we here?

    Over at The Buzz In The Dale, Lawndale Backwards Beekeeper Dennis writes about an odd-looking visitor in his yard:
    I have no idea what his real name or call name is but he looks like a moth pretending to be a bee, maybe a bumble bee. I have never seen any bumble bees around here but no one told him that.

    I don't know what he is but he is kind of cool looking with those big eyes and wide stripes. He never moved at all while I was taking pictures. When I went back much later he was long gone.

    Faux Bee (The Buzz In The Dale)

    Who can fill us in on this?


    Viewer mail

    Just found this website...I LOVE IT. I want to know when the next meeting is in either Aug. or Sept.

    I live in the San Fernando Valley and I am ready to attend your classes to start a beehive. So sign me up!!! I have wanted to learn about beekeeping since I was a kid.


    It looks like the next meeting will be Sunday, August 29th at 11am.

    Location: The usual—downtown LA's Farmlab.

    Stay tuned for the official word.


    New beekeeper gets a tree hive

    LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

    David is a new spectacular beekeeper. He went to a Backwards Beekeepers meeting in July and the next week he went with Erik to get his hive. He ordered his suit but couldn't wait to get started. He caught a bad case of bee fever.

    He found Janet who had a hive in her bottle brush tree about 9ft high. We started in the evening and with some careful planning we decided to cut the hive down and leave it intact. To be honest I would have never done it myself.

    David put a laundry net bag ever his head and simulutaneously held the branch with one hand and cut the branch with loppers with the other! I was just there to smoke, cut a few twigs and hold the light. I couldn't bare starting a 9pm cutout so the hive went into a box with the branch poking out. There wasn't a single bee flying around.

    Janet got up close and personal with the bees and seemed a little sad to see them go.

    This is close to one of the best bee experiences that I've had so far. More pics later when we do the cut out. Thanks to David and Janet for making it so fun.

    - roberta


    Viewer mail

    Jack in Los Altos writes:
    Hey Kirk,

    Just recently found your blog and I have to say it's awesome! And your group of beeks in Southern CA is truly dedicated.

    I will be following your blog daily and have just gone through ALL your old blogs, and watched many of the videos.

    Is there a Backwards Beekeeper group in Northern CA?

    Not that we know of. Maybe you should start one!

    I started beekeepeing going the all natural, chemical/treatment-free method as well.
    Foundationless with starter strips.

    Thanks and looking forward to your future blogs!

    Jack Ip

    Jack blogs at Los Altos Honey Bees.