Barbara & Roberta rescue bees in Long Beach

LA Backwards Beekeepers Barbara and Roberta have been doing fantastic work lately—not just rescuing bees, but documenting the process to help others learn from their experience.

Barbara writes:

Warren had contacted us about some north Long Beach bees in need of rescue. Josie had watched a swarm descend upon her lemon tree about 4 months prior and that was about the time she noticed bees flying around in her carport. She has a pretty strong allergy to honey—one day too many of putting honey in her tea gives her a pretty nasty rash—so it was important to remove the bees.

Carport wall before demolition...

Once Roberta and I arrived, it was clear that it would be easier to access the hive from next-door neighbor Monica’s backyard than from Josie’s storage-filled carport. Fortunately we had permission from them both to tear down whatever was necessary to get to the bees.

We took turns pulling down fence boards then took a crowbar to the back wall of the old carport. There they were: lots of bees, living on what seemed to me to be some pretty old comb. I doubt the hive arrived 4 months prior. I’m guessing what Josie saw was a swarm leaving, not arriving.

...and after.

Roberta had thought we would finish in an hour but unfortunately I can rarely keep up with her (who can?), so it took 2 hours. By the time we finished scraping off as much wax as we could, ants had already started moving in to clean up the remaining honey.

I did mention to Josie that since she loves her honey, she should start buying untreated raw honey from a local beekeeper; that the pollen in it might get her over her allergy.


Here are some more great video clips of the process:


Yvonne rescues bees after LA Windstorm 2011

The birdhouse bees on a happier, hotter day.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Yvonne writes:

Doug and Cheryl gave us a call for help. Some bees moved into a bird house in their Baldwin Hills back yard over the summer. The strong Santa Ana winds, combined with the weight of the bee hive, caused the support beam to break in half and the bird house landed on the ground.

We went and collected the bird house and moved the hive into new digs in Santa Monica. The bees appear to be very happy in their new home!



Barbara's Long Beach bee rescue

Ed faces the beehive.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Barbara led a bee rescue at Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach. She writes:

It was one of those hives you wish you could just leave alone—comb woven so beautifully through the branches of the tree, its length impressive given its position out at the end of some very tiny branches. It looked impossibly heavy. Somehow it had survived the Santa Ana winds of the night before. I worried that evening that our rescue the next morning at dawn might come too late but when Craig and I arrived at 6:30 a.m. it was still firmly attached, covered in bees and was providing breakfast for a hummingbird. I wish we had gotten a picture of that.

Ed from Long Beach Department of Parks and Recreation had contacted Roberta to see if we could help out with this hive. The City has been very open to the idea of relocating rather than exterminating hives in the city’s parks so we really wanted this to go well. It could only be done on a weekday, so Roberta would not be available. I would need some help. I put out the call for some muscle and Rich, who has helped out before, said he was available and needed bees to bolster his weaker hive. We were set...or so we thought.

The night before the scheduled rescue, Rich injured his back and was not going to be able to lift or bend. There went the muscle. Rich brought his wife Sheleana and I brought Craig, who had helped me with pickups a time or two. Unfortunately we only had one extra veil borrowed from Roberta, so Craig was relegated to taking videos from a distance and being chased around the park by guard bees. He did both very well!

Ed had brought a one-person bucket truck which he was required to operate himself for liability reasons, so with no rescue experience he had to smoke, prune, vacuum, cut comb and bring it all down to Rich and me; we framed it and emptied the bee-filled vacuum into Rich’s boxes.

The top third of the hive had been drawn all through the little branches and had to be brought down as one piece. We estimated its weight at between 15 and 20 pounds. It was absolutely beautiful.

One interesting aspect was that several iridescent green fig beetles had been entrapped and looked like jewels below the surface. Rather than create a huge mess trying to remove the honeycomb from the mass we left it intact. Rich added a third box to enclose it so the bees could deal with it as they saw fit this winter.

It was a smooth team effort with no mishaps and amazingly for Craig, no stings. I’m sure Ed will ask for BBK help again.


UPDATE: Barbara sent some great video clips from the rescue.


Viewer mail: Greetings from Denmark

A reader writes:

Dear Backwards Beekeepers,

I am a beekeeper from Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, and very glad to have found your blog and get inspired in ways to make beekeeping simpler, and more about the bees than the equipment, and altogether reflect on why I manage the bees as I do.

Reading about your struggles with rigid and ignorant laws, I feel fortunate that beekeeping has very old traditions and has been more recognized here for a long time. For example: A beekeeper chasing a swarm is allowed by law to tresspas on another man's land in order to follow it. A long history, however, also means that beekeepers here has become a bit set in their ways. (At a screening of the film "Queen of the Sun" a man remarked: "In our school apiary we have been using foundation for one hundred and twenty years, so there must be a reason for it").

This Christmas the whole family is going to celebrate the holiday with may aunt and uncle in Phoenix, AZ. If you know of any beekeepers there I would love to make their acquaintance and trade a jar of honey.

Best Regards,

Asger M.

Any Phoenix readers want to meet a fellow beekeeper from Denmark? Leave your info in the comments.


Bee Meeting recap

We had a great turnout at today's meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers—cold & blustery weather is no match for bee fever!

Kirk answered lots of questions from newbees, then talked about top bar beekeeping; also, Steve from BuBees in Malibu showed off some of his beautiful top bar hives.

A top bar hive from BuBees.

There's no meeting in December, so we'll see you all again in the New Year!

(By the way, keep watching the blog for your opportunity to order the Backwards Beekeepers hoodie!)


Roberta takes the show on the road.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Robera writes:
A few weeks ago I went to an insect fair in Culver City. I wanted to set up an observation hive for the event, because there were going to be hundreds of children and I knew that they would be attracted to the busy bees. Unfortunately this was the same weekend as another event so the club's observation hive was already taken.

I mentioned this to Richard in Long Beach and he said, "Let me see what I can do." In an hour he sent me a picture of what he whipped up and it was pretty incredible. Lots of ventilation and the viewing area allowed a view of the entire frame. I was amazed. I came over and we took a frame of bees and I was set.

Richard's observation hive was a big hit and the kids made a bee line for the hive when they saw the bees in action. I would have had a pretty boring display otherwise.

Pretty soon I took the observation hive to an event at the Whittier public library where LA Metro was hosting a talk. LA Metro sponsored a young new artist, Jane Gillespie Pryor, who created a bee-inspired work displayed in trains and buses earlier this year (read more about the event here).

In the end Richard generously offered the observation hive to me and I love it. I owe him enormously for it. This time of year there aren't many rescues so it'’s all about generating interest in bees and spreading knowledge.



Viewer mail: Top bar hives

Scott in Illinois writes:


Do you keep any top bar hives, or have you in the past? I am a first-year beekeeper and have 3 top bar hives. I have already made arrangements to add 3 more and 2 foundationless Langstroth hives to my apiaries.

The reason I ask is that it seems like the philosophies of the top bar beekeepers mirror your style of Backwards Beekeeping and vice versa. If you had a preference I would be interested in hearing it.

I also have watched some of your swarm captures and cutouts and it seems that your bees draw out comb much faster than the bees do here in Illinois; do you have any thoughts why that might be?...

We are basically done at the hives til spring here so I don't want to drive myself nuts trying to think like a bee if someone already knows the answer.


Scott P
Kankakee IL

Kirk responds:

I don't have any top bar hives myself. Sam Comfort up in New York State does, and is very successful with them. The top bar hive philosophy is very Backwards; its design was to be simple and cheap so people could keep bees without going broke.

Bees draw comb as needed so it depends on the flow. The last two years have been very good—the two before were the shits. You don't have to think like a bee, the bees do that pretty good. Being Backwards is always more interesting than the conventional beekeeping. Send us some of your pictures would you? We would love to share your knowledge and your success.


UPDATE: You can see Scott's YouTube channel here.


Mar Vista leads the way toward legal LA beekeeping

Chelsea McFarland, Sherri Akers,
LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Rob McFarland

At today's Backwards Beekeepers meeting, Rob and Chelsea spoke about their increasingly successful push toward legalizing beekeeping in the city of Los Angeles.

Mar Vista Patch writes:

The initiative began back in May, when local residents Chelsea and Rob McFarland approached the Green Committee about creating a feasibility study for a pilot beekeeping program in Mar Vista, similar to the recently-adopted Santa Monica beekeeping ordinance. The motion was passed unanimously and was approved by the MVCC the following month, where outreach began in earnest.

Want to join the cause? Check out HoneyLove.org, and consider attending the November 8th meeting of the Mar Vista Community Council to show your support.


Next Meeting: Sunday, October 30

PLEASE NOTE: Backwards Beekeepers meetings will now take place regularly on the last Sunday of every month**.

The next meeting is scheduled for Sunday, October 30 at 11am at the Atwater Crossing arts complex.

Topics to be covered:
  • How to prepare your hives for the winter season so that your bees can thrive in the spring
  • Legalization efforts in Los Angeles; Chelsea and Rob will tell us about some important things happening and how we can help support the effort
  • Questions and Answers from Kirkobeeo

Future 2011 meetings:
  • **November 20th a week earlier than usual due to the holiday
  • **NO Meeting in December due to holiday & cranky/cold bees

Atwater Crossing
3265-3191 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039-2205

There is ample free parking in the complex parking lot  - PLEASE park in the lot so the residents of the neighborhood can park near their homes.

Map link

Closest freeway exit is Fletcher off the 2 freeway
Casitas is between Minneapolis St & Silver Lake Blvd…
1 long block SW of N. San Fernando Road (across the railroad tracks)
1 ½ blocks NW of Fletcher Drive
2 ½ blocks SE of Glendale Blvd

See you at the meeting!
Anne & Gwen

Editor's note: There will also be Backwards Beekeepers t-shirts (brown, gray, and green) for sale at $15 each!


Strong Showing at Moving Planet

James and Ruth man the booth.

Here's a report from Susan Rudnicki about Backwards Beekeepers' participation in the inaugural Moving Planet event that took place on September 24 in Manhattan beach...nice work everyone!

There is a major over-haul of bike routes to allow safer and wider passage of bike commuters, establishment of community garden spaces where people can raise vegetables and fruits, more school gardens going in, and promotion of backyard food growing with bees and chickens part of the exhibits.

James, Victor and Susan demonstrate bee skills.

We had a great turn-out, even with the dense, foggy weather, and the organizers gave us a premium central booth space as you can see. Our booth (provided by Ruth)  had a observation hive with bees from my home, a fully fitted Lang hive so people could see the parts, a tri-fold brochure that James made showing people interacting with the bees and photos of typical places where citizens might encounter wild bees, BBK rescue hotline cards and BBK postcards,  a smoker (it was lit), samples of a good local wild honey v.s. a Costco honey and info on the difference, and lots of large photographs decorating the booth showing the interior of a working hive.

James and Victor brush up on their bee talk.

As a result of this showing, we are being asked to do a workshop on beekeeping the Backwards Beekeepers way in February for the Transition South Bay LA group.


One week, Four Trees and 8 Beekeepers

Trap-out team: Yuka, James, Barbara, Dave, Mark.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

This was a catch-up week for tree trap-outs and a big mentoring and learn-by-doing opportunity.

Bees love to swarm into trees and set up shop there, but it's not easy to get them out. It takes patience and persistence. There are only a few of us willing to do it, and I wanted to show some new people the ropes.

I started with Barbara and Richard. They were helping a woman who called the Bee Rescue Hotline with a pretty common story: bees had entered her tree and she had exterminated them not once but a few times because the cavity was always left open. And with the smell of wax and honey it’s irresistible to a swarm of bees. This time she also had a new little puppy that she didn’t want exposed to pesticides. Great news for the bees!

So we set up the trap-out with my favorite aluminum window screen modified with a little funnel made with a citrus juicer. We anchored a cardboard box just at the opening and in no time a little bee was fanning at the entrance.

Richard has gone a few times to check it out and there aren’t a lot of bees in the box, but they are good tempered and we’re saving them for Barbara for when her top bar hive arrives.

Then the next day I met James, Yuka, Barbara and Mark at the LA Zoo to do two more trap-outs. Dave at the zoo had one of our teams chainsaw off some dead branches from a tree where a bee hive had set up. This made it a lot easier to access. We set up the screen and leaned the cardboard against it.

This one has been tricky because there are so many little places that the bees are escaping. Barbara has gone there a few times (sometimes with Mark or Jeremy) to fix the holes. They've been working hard to plug all the holes in the tree in an effort to get the bees to all come out of one spot. It would be impossible to do this on your own unless you lived just down the street from the trap out.

Then Barbara, Mark and I set up another tree trap-out at Mt. Sinai. It was 6am and still pitch black, but we could still see where the bees were living. No pictures here because it’s a cemetery. Matt, the manager of the grounds, will update with the progress.

We’ll leave them alone to give the bees time to emerge and if we are lucky, the queen will exit and then the bees can be removed and the holes in the trees closed completely with cement. Now that we have a great team of trap out artists, we might be able to help out more callers.

Thanks everyone!



Long Beach kids help rescue bees

Bee rescuers Barbara and Richard.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

We did a rescue of a hive attached to the eave of Tom's garage in Long Beach. His grandchildren had noticed them and were eager to have them relocated to that they could play around in the backyard barefoot again.

As with the dresser bees, Richard and Barbara did all the work while I explained what we were doing to the kids as they watched through a window.

Kids love bees!


Two bee rescues become one hive

These are some top-drawer bees.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

Now that I’m in Long Beach, I’ve found a new team for bee rescues that includes Barbara and Richard. Barbara has wanted to work with bees for a long time now and has a new top bar hive ordered and ready to arrive this week. After a month of the two of us doing bee adventures together we found Richard. He had helped his grandfather with hives when he was very young and remembering those experiences sparked a new desire to have his own hives.

The first rescue the three of us took on were bees in a dresser. The homeowner’s’ son called the Bee Rescue Hotline and described a beehive in a mattress that had been left outside. As usual, what we found was different than reported. The mattress was propped up against an empty dresser that contained a hive.

There was a good level of activity so we started to remove the drawers to see how many were occupied by bees.  Even though this was his first experience with bee rescues in a very long time, Richard took the initiative and did a lot of it on his own.

Richard dives in.

It was a mess getting the drawers out, but once the dresser was open it wasn’t too hard to get the comb tied into the frames and the honey put away.  We left the box and frames in place and came back about a week later to find some bees but not a lot of activity so probably the majority of the bees had swarmed off after having their home torn apart.  

Luckily we had another call from a woman with bees in her jacuzzi. Her daughter-in-law noticed them when she was in the water and saw a few bees. She investigated the slightly open door to the motor where she saw the bees coming from and a glob of bees dropped to the ground. She stayed calm, and the bees didn’t seem to mind the disturbance. The family called the hotline, and we went out to do the rescue.


Roof eave rescue in Santa Monica

Jim and Josh at work.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Yvonne writes:
My friend in Santa Monica decided that he wanted to take advantage of the legalization of bees and add a hive to his yard. He bought all of the hive gear and then I got a call from him that he found some bees he wanted to rescue.

The suspected location.

What they found underneath.


A happy tale from the Yahoo Group

We have a great many people in the group who are dedicated to helping one another and helping bees. If you're a beekeeper or want to learn about it, you really should join our Yahoo Group to take advantage of this great community.This exchange really made my day:

I have 7 hives out in Perris. A few weeks ago I tilted the migratory covers to get some ventilation going when it was really hot out. Now the weather is cooling down, I want to re-snug the lids but can't make it out to Perris for another week and a half. Will this be okay or should I try and arrange to have someone go out there and secure the lids by untilting them? Anyone live in Perris?
I live near Perris... if you would like, I can go reset the lids for you.
If you wouldn't mind. I can't pay you but can reimburse with a few jars of honey at the next BB meeting. These are some very peaceful and happy bees. I'm sure they'd be happy to know you. I've inverted the lids to vent the hives. They just need to be flipped back over and to have the bricks reset on top. Let me know if you can do this.
Hi Chris-
I'd be happy to... I'll get them tomorrow morning. I'll report on the progress.
Thanks for the offer of honey.... No payment required or requested!
It's not every day one hears the phrase "no payment required or requested". Thank you.

Imagine if everyone out in the world played as nicely together!


Michael Bush on unsustainable beekeeping systems

Natural beekeeping pioneer Michael Bush has agreed to be a guest blogger with us this late summer/fall. For those of you unfamiliar with Michael, take a look at his website Bush Farms.

I suppose we all know that the honey bees and beekeepers are in trouble. It seems like there is some controversy in the beekeeping world and the scientific world over whether it is even possible to keep bees without treatments. But there are many of us who are doing this and succeeding.

Let's do a short overview of the problems in beekeeping and the solutions. I will flesh out the details of each point in subsequent posts. But here is an outline of what I see as the primary issues:
  • Beekeeping Pests
  • Contamination
  • Wrong Gene Pool
  • Upset ecology of the bee colony
  • Beekeeping House of Cards
I will elaborate on each in the days to come.


Ask Michael Bush - Feeding Bees

Natural beekeeping pioneer Michael Bush has agreed to be a guest blogger with us this late summer/fall. For those of you unfamiliar with Michael, take a look at his website Bush Farms.

If you have to feed late in the fall (late October/early November), what is your preferred method to do so?

In my climate I could have two feet of snow on the ground in October. I would be feeding now, if I were feeding. Once the nights fall below 50 degrees (F) and the days don't get much above that point, the bees can't take the syrup as it never gets up to the required 50 degrees.

As far as method, I have pretty much every kind of feeder and use them all because I'm too cheap to buy new ones. But most of mine are bottom board feeders because they are essentially free since I have to buy a bottom board anyway.

But typically in an outyard I just do dry sugar.

I wonder about the cost-effectiveness of feeding... Between time, energy (fuel, etc), and materials, how can this be more cost effective than just leaving a proper portion of honey and pollen at the end of the season?

The people who talk about how cost effective it is typically just compare the price of sugar or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) to honey and that is their justification. They don't seem to calculate the fuel, time, sugar and work it takes to make all that syrup, haul it to the yards, feed it, set off robbing with it, invite the ants in with it, haul the feeders around and gather them up for storage etc.

More information on these topics on the Bush Farms website:
Bottom Board Feeders
Feeding Bees Dry Sugar
Profit Formula

Got a question for Michael? Send it to beehumans[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll get a bunch answered in subsequent posts.


Learn from the bees

Natural beekeeping pioneer Michael Bush has agreed to be a guest blogger with us this late summer/fall. For those of you unfamiliar with Michael, take a look at his website Bush Farms.

[Editor's note: This post is now expanded to its full length.]

"Let the bees tell you"
-Brother Adam

I am going to give you the short-cut to success in beekeeping right here and now. The rest is merely elaboration and details. With apologies to C.S. Lewis (who said in A Horse and His Boy, “no one teaches riding quite as well as a horse”) I think you need to realize that “no one teaches beekeeping quite as well as bees.” Listen to them and they will teach you.

Trust the Bees
“There are a few rules of thumb that are useful guides. One is that when you are confronted with some problem in the apiary and you do not know what to do, then do nothing. Matters are seldom made worse by doing nothing and are often made much worse by inept intervention.”
The How-To-Do-It book of Bee-keeping, Richard Taylor

If the question in your mind starts “how do I make the bees …” then you are already thinking wrongly. If your question is “how can I help them with what they are trying to do…” you are on your way to becoming a beekeeper.

Here, then, is the short answer to every beekeeping issue. Give them the resources to resolve the problem and let them. If you can’t give them the resources, then limit the need for the resources.

For instance if they are being robbed, what they need is more bees to defend the hive, but if you can’t give them that, then reduce the entrance to one bee wide and you will create the “pass at Thermopylae where numbers count for nothing”. If they are having wax moth issues in the hive, what they need are more bees to guard the comb. If you can’t give them that then reduce the area they need to guard by removing empty combs and empty space.

In other words, give them resources or reduce the need for the resources they don’t have.

Most bee problems come back to queen issues.


Guest Blogger: Michael Bush!

Natural beekeeping pioneer Michael Bush has agreed to be a guest blogger with us this late summer/fall. For those of you unfamiliar with Michael, take a look at his website Bush Farms.

Michael specializes in figuring out how to have success with bees with the minimal amount of effort. He has influenced and inspired many of the methods that our own Kirkobeeo teaches.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping author Dean Stiglitz on Michael:
His writing is like his talks, with more content,detail, and depth
than one would think possible with such few words…hiswebsite and
PowerPoint presentations are the gold standard fordiverse and common
sense beekeeping practices.

Author profile from Michael's book series "The Practical Beekeeper" about beekeeping naturally:

Michael Bush has had an eclectic set of careers fromprinting and graphic arts, to construction to computer programming anda few more in between. Currently he is working in computers. He hasbeen keeping bees since the mid 70’s, usually from two to seven hives upuntil the year 2000. Varroa forced more experimentation which requiredmore hives and the number has grown steadily over the years from then.By 2008 it was about 200 hives. He is active on many of the Beekeepingforums with last count at about 45,000 posts between all of them. He has aweb site on beekeeping at www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

Got a question for Michael? Send it to beehumans[at]gmail[dot]com and we'll get a bunch answered in subsequent posts.

Welcome Michael...we're proud to have you. May we call you Michaelbeeo?


Rescuing bees from a Long Beach wood pile

The bee rescue crew.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

Brian called the Bee Rescue Hotline when he realized that there were bees in his woodpile. He had a group of people coming over to build a bunch of skate ramps and he needed to be able to move the wood around.

Barbara and I came over and Theresa met us for her first bee rescue and first hive. Theresa's son just got a new job and spent the money buying her the hive and a couple of bee suits. What a great son! Brian borrowed one to help with the rescue and loved it. He described it as dangerous and put it in the same category as skydiving. He and Theresa were naturals with the bees and were so excited. Barbara is beginning to be the mentor at this point.

We had to do some heavy lifting at first and somehow Brian conveniently had to go to the store when we needed to that. The bees were very nice and in no time we had them in Theresa's hive.

Theresa came back at night to retrieve them but accidentally went to the wrong house and was confused when she didn't see the hive in the backyard. Luckily no one noticed.


Saving bees in a BIG old avocado tree

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

This hive came crashing to the ground unexpectedly. The avocado tree it was in is thought to be the second oldest avocado tree in Southern California and has being doing great for years. One day this Pasadena family heard a loud crashing sound as one of the tree limbs broke and hit the ground. Luckily no one was hurt.

A hive must have set up in the hollow of the dead tree limb. The colony didn't seem to be fazed by the change in location and continued to fly in and out of the limb. It shocked the homeowner to find a beehive in addition to a 20 foot branch on the ground. Luckily they knew about us. And their son, Rory, knew one of our own beekeepers, Julia.

We arranged a time that Julia and her mother could meet Ceebs and me to relocate the hive to Julia's nuc. Julia is working with bees and creating her senior project around them. Rory was interested In working with the bees so he also joined in with a loaner veil. His mom, dad and sister looked on from a distance and were very excited about the whole process.

We first took a chainsaw and opened up the branch and then Julia cut out the comb. It was tiny bunch of bees and they were super nice. They just kept on flying in and out despite the noise of the chainsaw.


Fighting over a bee rescue in NYC

With wild bees an abundant resource here in Southern California, there's always more than enough to go around.

Not so in New York City, apparently:

In a gale wind from [tropical storm Irene], a hollowed-out branch of an enormous tree was ripped off, exposing a hive of 30,000 to 40,000 honeybees. The hive’s discovery was a jackpot for the beekeeping community and word spread quickly on Facebook and Twitter that a feral hive was up for grabs.

Two beekeepers jumped at the chance to claim the bees, unknowingly setting off a feud between two of the city’s main beekeeping groups...

As throngs of beekeepers and the curious congregated within the thin piece of yellow caution tape roping off the area around the tree, tensions rose. And even as the wood chips were flying, the two beekeeping groups squabbled over how the rescue should be conducted and who the rightful owner of the bees was...

Mr. Fischer said he tried to halt the operation on Sunday because the high winds trailing the storm added to an already potent combination of stinging insects, heights and chain saws. But when his words were not heeded, he left the park.

“There was a lot more testosterone floating around than common sense,” he said.

Around Bee Rescue, Honey and Rancor (NY Times)


Viewer mail


I absolutely LOVE your guys approach!!

I am a new beekeeper in Northern California...no, not San Francisco, farther up than that by a few hours.

Anyway, I have a ten-frame Langstroth hive with a super on it and I had some old wood and wire frames that I took apart. I was wondering if I put a few of those broken down frames as top-bar frames using a paint stir stick and some starter wax if you think the bees will build on it considering all the other frames are either wood-and-wire or plastic? If so where should I put them? Super, middle, outer, etc?

Again, what you guys do is wonderful. Peace.

Brett W.

Kirk responds:

Well sounds like you are having fun up there. You should put them wherever you want. The bees just like things to build their combs on.

Keep it simple.

"Everything works if you let it"
--Michael Bush

have fun Backwards is the new forwards



Hive removal in Venice

Roberta opens up the garage wall.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Yvonne writes:

Roberta and I went to help Clancy and Charlotte in Venice. They had bees in the back of the garage. They wanted to keep them but the hive was in the neighbor’s yard and she didn’t like them. Clancy and Charlotte decided that they wanted to move the bees into their backyard.

We took apart the back wall of the garage first. Once we pried the wall open, there was a lot of comb hanging down. We removed it all and then filled up the space and sealed it up.

However, this particular hive (which had swarmed twice) was queenless so we could not move them into the backyard. Instead, they got moved into Backwards Beekeeper Ceebs’ hive.

We promised Clancy and Charlotte some more bees and they finally got a hive from a Cheviot Hills removal.



First Meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers in NYC

NYC Backwards Beekeeper Megan writes:

Last week, a funny little group of aspiring and successful urban farmers, bee nerds and wanna-bees gathered on the rooftop of Brooklyn Grange, an acre-sized rooftop farm located in Queens, NY for the first meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers of New York City.

What we lacked in population, we made up for in spirit. We had with us such a wonderful assortment of talent and experience level in beekeeping: Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries came down from the Hudson Valley to regale the group with stories of formic acid burns and swarm catching and started the whole talk with a ditty about an aquatic ant who can save the world. Guitar strings were broken, then came the storm we had all been fearing.

The skies had been opening up off and on all day, even up to the few minutes before the meeting. When we got started the horizon was fairly clear with the exception of some ominous clouds in the distance. Immediately after Sam’s song (which I am convince willed the storm to us) marble-sized hail began to fall, the wind began to whip around and lightening sent us running off of the roof to an open warehouse space a couple floors below.

It was dusty, it was dark. We sat on cardboard boxes on the floor in a big circle. It was like a Die Hard movie gone wrong. We were certainly starting our foray into Backwards-ness on the right foot. If the other NYC bee clubs could see us, they’d certainly have a chuckle at our expense. Let them. We were having a really good time.

Next Meeting: Sunday August 28

PLEASE NOTE: Backwards Beekeepers meetings will now take place regularly on the last Sunday of every month. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Sunday August 28 at 11am at the Atwater Crossing arts complex

Topics to be covered:

  • Your questions answered by Kirkobeeo

  • Honey & harvesting

  • Bee rescues

  • Meet the mentors & learn how to adopt one of your own

Atwater Crossing
3265-3191 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039-2205

There is ample free parking in the complex parking lot so PLEASE park in the lot so the residents of the neighborhood can park near their homes.

Map link

Closest freeway exit is Fletcher off the 2 freeway
Casitas is between Minneapolis St & Silver Lake Blvd…
1 long block SW of N. San Fernando Road (across the railroad tracks)
1 ½ blocks NW of Fletcher Drive
2 ½ blocks SE of Glendale Blvd

See you at the meeting!
Anne & Gwen


Heater hive in Cheviot Hills

LA Backwards Beekeeper Yvonne writes:

Andrew from Cheviot Hills called the Bee Rescue Hotline when he tried to move an outdoor propane heater, only to discover some bees had taken up residence under the cover.



Thankfully, my nephew Joshua came to help me because when we unzipped the cover, it ended up being a pretty large hive.

Joshua smoked them up really well and then we laid the heater on its side to begin cutting them into frames. Joshua has never handled bees before but laid everything out like a pro.

It was a messy job and it took over an hour but they were framed up and moved to their new hive in Venice, California.