A swarm capture, a cut-out, and making new beekeepers

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
We heard from Renata in Venice (pictured above), who caught a swarm on video as it entered a small ventilation hole in her exterior wall April 1st. She investigated different live removals but her landlord wanted to close the hole rather than pay to have them rescued. Luckily she found us and the Bee Rescue Hotline.

A week ago we set up a trap-out with a wire screen duct-taped to the wall and a cardboard box duct taped to a pipe above the hole.

After setting it up I got home and checked my email and the first one read: "The Box Fell!"

Ughhh! I went right back and we set up her patio table and an ironing table with a tomato cage positioned to keep the box from blowing over. It looked crazy, but prevented having to drill a couple more holes in the wall to set up a bracket.

That's some serious crazy.

I checked it a week later and they looked like they had all moved into the box. I'm going to leave it for a couple more weeks just to make sure. Then the bees will go to Rob, Renata's co-worker, who has already ordered hive boxes and his protective gear.

Rob and I had planned on checking the trap out together, but then a swarm call came in just a few minutes from his place: bees had moved into a water meter in Mar Vista. We couldn't pass that up.

Outside the water meter.

We checked it out and the hive was still small with 3 new combs and the bees had a wonderful temperament. We transferred them to a cardboard box and left another box to catch the foragers. Rob went back at night and was able to get all of them.

Inside the water meter.

The best part was that many of the neighbors stopped, asked questions and were very supportive. It wasn't just a bee rescue, but more of a public service announcement. Even the neighbors across the street had us come over to get a beekeeping consultation.

Rob and his bees.

As soon as we left, those same neighbors posted on our Yahoo group that they want to host a hive. Now Renata's bees are safe, Rob has a new colony and we have a new prospective bee home!



Ruth and Harlan (and a bunch of bees) in the Palisadian-Post

Ruth and Harlan joined forces to rescue a swarm last week and made news in the Palisadian-Post. Who needs vector control when the Backwards Beekeepers are in town?

Read the article here. Nice work Palisadians!



Thanks to everyone who is visiting our blog for the first time. We are touched by the kind words we are hearing from all over the world and hope that we can help more people become beekeepers and support their local bee population.

Please take a second to read about our resources below.

The Bee Rescue Hotline is for alerting us about bees you'd like removed in the Los Angeles area. Please do not leave us a message asking for beekeeping advice or requesting a hive. We are not currently set up to respond to bee removal requests outside of LA.

Our Yahoo Discussion Group is a great place to ask questions, request bees or share your experience.

Educational (and entertaining) videos are available on our Backwards Beekeepers TV section and can likely help you get started. You may want to also take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.

• We are also going to try and set up some guidelines for setting up your own Backwards Beekeepers group in your area. We have done a couple of Skype conferences and will plan more based on demand.

• We are in the process of compiling like-minded organizations in other areas...please stay tuned for that.

Our email address starts with beehumans and ends with gmail.com. If you are looking for general beekeeping advice, the Yahoo Group linked above is probably your best bet for a quicker response.

More to come!


Hey...we're on CNN!

Check out this video on the CNN site. We hear it will be on the TV next week.

Thanks John Torigoe!


An epic quest for bees

Meet Grove, a man on a mission for bees.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
Grove has a perfect location for bees right by the LA River. He has chickens and a beautiful garden. For the ultimate garden addition, he wanted a beehive.

Grove had visited two other Backwards Beekeepers and wanted to get started as soon as possible. He got his protective gear from his brother who and once been a beekeeper.

The first attempt to get bees was when Sam, another astute Backwards Beekeeper, spotted a swarm in a Home Depot tree. But LA Backwards Beekeepers Max and Steve took care of this one.

A day later, however, Sam saw that there was still a grapefruit sized ball of bees in the Home Depot tree. Seemed not quite worth it since I had already rescued Veronica's swarm from Norwalk and planned to bring it to Grove. I scheduled to do a 6am drop off of The Norwalk swarm for Grove, but when I went to my car at 5am, someone had stolen the box of bees that had been sitting on the car roof! Pure craziness! Who, the heck steals a box of bees in the middle of the night !?! I stood by the car for a few minutes in shock and with a lot of concern for the poor bees who were in some criminal's possession....

Anyways I thought, I'll go get those darn straggler Home Depot bees.


Backwards Beekeepers represent at Artisanal LA

We'll be presenting a "Beekeeping 101" panel at Artisanal LA this Saturday, April 16 at 5pm. The panel will end with a local honey tasting.

This event is all about locally-produced food. You can sample treats made here in LA, attend a bunch of workshops and leave in a sugar-induced coma. Friends from Winnetka Farms, Greenbar CollectiveIntelligensia Coffee, Eagle Rock Brewery and Erik and Kelly from Root Simple are among many presenters on the schedule.

Artisanal LA was a lot of fun last fall - we met tons of inspiring people and made some new beekeepers along the way...we even had a booth.


Backwards Beekeepers at GOOD LA's launch this weekend

Kirk's going to be giving a talk on how to become a Backwards Beekeeper at GOOD LA's Launch Event this Saturday. The whole weekend sounds quite interesting and a great way to meet like-minded neighbors. We're also quite excited to check out the new Atwater Crossing complex.

We'll have t-shirts for sale and local honey to taste.

The talk is at 2:00 on Saturday, April 9. Please come by and say hello.
RSVP Here.


Swarm rescue at Home Depot

LA Backwards Beekeeper Max writes on her blog:
...our neighbor Noel knocked on our door.

Noel had just come from Home Depot where he’d spotted a swarm of bees in a tree in the parking lot. We jumped in the car and drove down to Home Depot, hoping the bees hadn’t already moved…or been sprayed down with some toxic chemical.

We found the football-sized swarm in the tree as described. I hope these bees are handy and can fix stuff around the house. It will be a drag if this swarm just stopped by Home Depot to shop for ugly ceiling fans.

We borrowed a step ladder from the store (so handy) and were just plotting the best method of shaking the bees into our cardboard box, when another neighbor, Evan, happened to walk by with his contractor. He nicely volunteered to take photos of us so we could both be in the pictures.

Home Depot Swarm Capture (My Roman Apartment)


Norwalk bee tripleheader

Indefatigable & inspirational LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

We got an email from Veronica in Norwalk. She explains it all:

"We have two hives of bees and they need rescuing. We have one in front of our house inside of a tree and another inside of the hedge of our house. I reside in Norwalk. The city of Norwalk patched up the hole and the bees are mad and trying to get back into the hole in the tree.

I feel bad for the little guys so we are trying to find a beekeeper who is interested in saving them. Please let me know if you are interested."


So I went to check it out on the way from work to Long Beach. Well, the tree had a lot of activity and setting up the trap-out will take some creativity. The biggest issue is directing them up and to a box positioned high enough and placed securely enough that they stay out of the foot traffic. I'll work on that later.

Then we took a look at the hedge bees which were in a low cement/plaster wall with a hole in the top. I took a picture through the hole and the bees got mad really fast. These are mean bees.

This will take careful planning to prevent stings to the people on the side walk just a few feet away. We'll probably need to cut through the cement wall. Also something for a different day.

THEN, Veronica and her family said that there were some more bees that had showed up in a tree! It was a huge swarm that had landed a few days ago and then disappeared. Then it can back to the same spot but was only half the size. Now THAT I could do right then and there.

Veronica's mom used to be a beekeeper but she definitely didn't want to keep these. They watched from a window and caught some shots of me putting the swarm into the box.

It was pretty easy and done in about 10 minutes. It looked like they were setting up a hive with bits of comb all over the tree and bees bringing back pollen. Boy the bees love this home. It is going to be a big bee day when I come back.

Anyone interested?


Marc starts a second hive

LA Backwards Beekeeper Marc writes:

This morning Maurice rescued a swarm and delivered them to my office in Santa Monica, in the afternoon i drove them to their new home in our Mt. Washington yard - so assuming all works out and they like it here, we now have our second hive...and i took us off the "need bees" database on our Yahoo group.

I was solo doing it all (with some great guidance from Maurice) but managed to take a few photos in the process i put them up on my Flickr page.

Everything was awesome, but i did learn that no matter how careful you are (socks tucked into pants, etc), a bee can still manage to get into your pants! Ouch!!



Your Bee Rescue Hotline at work: Carson

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
The Bee Rescue Hotline got a call about a swarm in Carson. Perfect spot since I needed to pick up the door handles and dividers for our Ikea kitchen. It was 5 minutes from Ikea and Dennis was meeting us from Lawndale.

So after waiting an hour and a half for drawer dividers to be pulled we decided to just leave and get the swarm real fast. When we got there, Dennis had already had everything set up and had trimmed the bush where the swarm was hanging out.

Erin, Patty, Nancy and Ron watched from their van parked in the driveway and got an up close look at Dennis shaking the bees into the nuc.

This swarm was picked up the next day by another Backwards Beekeeper.


Kirkobeeo on pause

Here's a rare glimpse of Kirk not in action.

I tagged along today while he boxed a BBQ swarm in Eagle Rock and then responded to a swarm (which had flown off by the time we got there) in Glassell Park.

We also shot footage to promote our upcoming documentary The Backwards Beekeeper.

It was a good day.


Roberta's Highland Park heroes

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
I got a sad call from my hive's host yesterday. The Ag department came to check the hives and said that they needed to be moved. I would only have a few days so I needed help fast. I knew that Warren was helping Shannon, Eric and their children host bees and become beekeepers so I called him right away. He immediately said he would help, my first hero.

We've both had sketchy hive move experiences so we did a lot of planning to make this happen right. We would need moving screens (thanks Ceebs!!), wooden planks to screw the boxes together, ratchet straps and some muscle. At the last moment Warren smartly thought we should ask for more help because these are 4 boxes hive and at the bottom of a hill.

I immediately thought of Tom and Ryan and I emailed them a few hours before the planned move at 7pm thinking that it wasn't fair to ask for such a big favor like this. Well, Tom called and said he was up for it and would meet us there, my second hero. Then as I started walking to the hives located at the bottom of a small hill I saw someone laying down by the hives in the dark and waving. It was Ryan already waiting by the hives! I can honestly say that my heart leapt, my third hero!!! He was very calm and confident that everything would go smoothly. I really needed that.


Next Meeting: Sunday April 17

We're having a meeting next Sunday! We'll help you get started with beekeeping and answer your questions, including "I have bees...now what?"

When: Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 11am
Where: Under Spring outdoor space at Metabolic Studio (aka Farmlab) in downtown L.A.

ALSO: Please use extreme caution when walking through the alley and bridge underpass on your way to the meeting. The street may be flooded or partially blocked by debris. This area is constantly under construction and not very pedestrian-friendly.

Everyone is welcome, whether you're a newbee or not.

We'll post a more complete agenda as the meeting nears.

We'll also have Backwards Beekeepers t-shirts for sale.

Click here for a map to the Backwards Beekeepers meeting.

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Beekeeping at night in L.A.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
I went over to William's in Elysian Valley to check out his hive since it looked like they were outgrowing their two boxes. The evening isn't a great time to look through a hive so I was a little worried that it wouldn't go well. But sometimes you just got to do beekeeping whenever you can, even after a long day's work. But it wound up being a cinch. I love beekeeping at night in LA.

The bees were calm and didn't seem to mind being moved around. Grove, one of William's neighbors, came over to check out Will's hive to see if he wanted to host one. So all of us and Will's roommates all took a look.

Even his cat Biscuits is a fearless beekeeper. We took a look through the top box to find new and beautiful comb with capped honey and brood. We pyramided some frames up to a third box and added a fourth just in case because they were expanding so quickly. We'll check in another month to see how quickly they'll expand.



Viewer mail

James writes:
Hey there,

I'm a new beekeeper this will be my first year and your videos have inspired me even more. I live in Ontario Canada and am starting out with 2 hives. Just wanted to say I'm a fan!


Thanks James! Keep going, and send photos and stories about your hives!

Marcia's first swarm

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
Marcia saw a post from the Bee Rescue Hotline about a swarm in South Pasadena right in her neighborhood so she claimed it right away. We met out there after she had dinner and finished up homework with her kids. She brought her son, Colin, who is very interested in beekeeping.

Marcia had already done a cutout so knew what she was doing. I came along for moral support since it was her first swarm.

The call came from the happy homeowner and she gladly posed with the bees. When she was young she saw her "fearless" grandmother work with bees so she wanted them rescued when they swarmed to a bush.

Marcia and I cut a few branches and voila, they were in the box and ready to go home and be transferred to a hive box. Hope they decide to stay.