You have a great blog, and I am now a follower of the BB blog. I've been around beekeepers for a while. I had always seen people medicating and feeding artificial food. I just never felt that it was the right thing. Thankfully, I have found your site. It has been most helpful. I love the vids and the quick witted humor of Kirk.
I am just getting into beekeeping this year. Actually, I just built my hives this winter and have started my own blog to document my experiences. I've read through most of your post and can't help but wonder how many swarms the BB members catch? I've never seen many swarm pics during a season. Are there that many colonies in CA?
Also, If I may ask another question. Honey Bees can only sting once, and then die. If that is the case, how can a queen emerge from her cell, search the hive for other queen cells, sting through queen cell wall or fight and sting the already emerged queen and still live to carry on her duties?
Thanks so much for your time and your blog.
James B. from Tennessee
Thanks for the note James! In answer to your questions:
—We get tons of swarms here in Southern California. In spring and summer there are so many that the county vector control (which considers all wild bees dangerous) kills dozens of them every week. Since the advent of the Bee Hotline and the publicity it's received, we're managing to save quite a lot of them. But this area (and Tennessee, I would think) is such a bee paradise that there are always going to be far more swarms than available beekeepers.
—A stinging honeybee only dies when it stings something that the barbs of its stinger get stuck in, like a mammal's skin. A bee can sting other bees over and over again with no harm to itself. The queen's stinger isn't even barbed, so she wouldn't die from stinging in any case. The drone (male) bees have no stinger at all.
Keep us posted about your Backwards Beekeeping!