Cut-out adventure in Mt. Washington

Does this look like a newbee to you? Karen gets right into it.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

Rob answered a call to the Bee Rescue Hotline about a swarm on the wall of a house in Mt Washington. He met Karen there, who has been studying beekeeping and going to meetings. Now she was ready to get into the thick of it.

When they got there they saw it wasn't really a swarm but bearding outside of a vent where a hive had set up. Rob got a group of us together to return and do the cutout. Gwen lent us her ladder and with quick work Rob had the vent removed and the hive exposed.

Even though this was the first cutout she was doing, Karen climbed up the 20 foot ladder and cut out the comb with ease and confidence. She was super cool and a natural with the bees.

The hard part was getting the rest of the bees out of the roof, because there was a lot of space between the insulation and lots of vents to use. There was also a crazy bee activity that looked like robbers that had joined the frenzy.

It took Rob patience and hours to take care of the other vents and coax the bees out. A labor of honeylove.



Handling bees in a sun dress?

Kirk passes along these photos from his recent trip to New York City. He writes:
hell who needs a veil. Emily Vaughn and Sam Comfort looking at Emily's bees


It's worth noting, by the way, that Emily and Sam are dealing with package (i.e. factory-bred) bees here. We do not recommend this sort of thing when dealing with feral bees.

I personally call this "asking for a nasty surprise."


Garage cut-out in Long Beach

Ryan and his unwanted guests.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Barbara writes:
Saturday morning early (7 a.m. on a Saturday is early to me), Roberta picked me up and we headed for Ryan's garage bee hive in Long Beach. This was my second beeventure since becoming totally obsessed with all things apian. Little did I know this would be my first “hands-on” bee experience.

Ryan's dog checks out the intruders.

It appeared that the bees were limited to a small area behind a loose fascia board and had not had time to get much farther. After puffing a bit of smoke into the hive, Roberta settled down to showing me how to put together nuc frames.

A few minutes after another poof of smoke on the bees she artfully removed the loose board exposing a lovely one-month-old hive. First she demonstrated how to cut all the sides of the combs away from their attachments, removing a couple of pieces and shaking the bees off into the box. Then she showed me how to lay the comb into the frames and put frame into the nuc box. Lastly she said, in her sweet voice,… "OK Barbara, your turn”."

Ackkkk, I thought, I’'m going up that ladder and cutting comb out of a bee hive? So...up I went on the extremely rickety ladder (note duct tape holding it together in the video) into the cloud of bees.

OK, so they were extremely sweet bees, just feeling a bit disrupted. I managed to cut bee-covered comb off without destroying it, or falling off the ladder, or getting stung on the nose when my veil momentarily fell against my face. Success!

I had an absolutely wonderful time. Someone is getting some really nice bees, and as a final touch Roberta got to see her first-ever woodpecker on the way back to the car. I could get used to this.


Bonus video: the bees drinking honey after getting a couple of puffs of smoke.


Help save the bees with a BB t-shirt!

The Backwards Beekeepers t-shirt is a great way to show your support for all-natural, chemical-free beekeeping and the survival of the feral honeybee population! Proceeds from sales help to fund the Backwards Beekeepers' bee rescue, educational outreach, and community meetings.

The logo design is by Ron Fleming and Brent Stickels at YYES Design, and the shirts are made by American Apparel in the USA. Screen printing is by Tomas at Grow Your Own Media in Atwater.

The shirts are available in gray or brown and cost $15. US shipping is $5, and international shipping is available too—drop us a line to tell us where you are, and we'll let you know the cost (most parts of Canada, for example, ship for the same price as the US).

These t-shirts are selling out fast, so check the pull-down menu just below to see what's currently in stock. Here's a closer look at the two different colors & logo:

You can get a shirt at most Backwards Beekeeper meetings, or you can order one by clicking the button below.

You'll look good in one!

** Want to save on shipping? Each additional t-shirt you order ships for just $2 more! That means two shirts are just $37, three are $54, and so on. To order multiple shirts this way, e-mail us instead of using the PayPal buttons below. Let us know how many shirts you want (along with sizes and colors), and we'll give you the payment info.

Use the menu below to buy a t-shirt in GRAY or BROWN:
Backwards Beekeepers t-shirts - US shipping only

** See the note just above if you want to buy multiple shirts—save on shipping!


Hollywood Hills cut-out

Rob finds the honey.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

A call to the Bee Rescue Hotline sent us up to the Hollywood Hills to do a cut-out from an exterior garage wall. The homeowner said that the hive had been there for almost 20 years. There had also been two other hives on the property that other Backwards Beekeepers had removed.

Knowing that the hive had been there such a long time, we were surprised to find just one area with brood comb and an equal amount of space for just honey. It was funny how the bees had set up the hive: on the left of one wall stud was the brood and on the right (between the next set of studs) was the honey. There was very little crossover.

This hive was just barely hanging in there. Leah put the brood and bees into Rob's handmade nucs and brought them to one of her queenless hives.

Ed, Roberta, and Rob.

We checked the hive the next day and there were some bees on the comb, but not many. There were also a bunch of bees left in the wall that didn't want to go into the nuc box that I had left there, so I'll need to move them on another night.



Rescuing some Silver Lake bees

Guess which one's the beekeeper.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:
Lisa called the Bee Rescue Hotline about some bees living in an irrigation control box. Chris met me there because he needed bees for a new hive. We got there just as the sun was setting over Silver Lake Reservoir.

We opened up the irrigation control box and there were a few combs so it wasn't too big—just the right size for a quick cutout. Lisa and her boyfriend watched from a balcony while we worked.

The brood pattern was great. And best of all, the bees were so gentle. They went into a few frames of a deep box and we got almost all the bees as we definitely had the queen.

After last batch of bees were put in the box they started to fan like crazy all pointing in the same direction. They made a roar in the box.

Lisa said that she would tweet about us and spread the word about the Backwards Beekeepers. Thanks, Lisa!



New beekeeper meets a BBQ hive

Barbara and Jennifer.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

Jennifer called the Bee Rescue Hotline about a swarm of bees that had started building a hive under her BBQ. She had already exposed them by pulling away the BBQ cover at night. She had worked with bees with her dad when she was younger and would have kept them if her dog didn't have a big reaction to the bee stings.

New beekeeper Barbara came along, and writes this about her experience:

Bees…I’ve always thought about them, enjoyed staring at them in my garden and on the pepper trees next door. I’ve stepped on more than a few in clover-filled back yards as a child. I’ve collected a few ancient coins from Ephesus, Greece with images of bees on them. I’ve read about the Mellisae (bee priestesses) and have had fantasies of making my own mead. I am filling my Kindle with bee books, looking at top bar hive plans, etc, but tonight was the real deal. CONTACT – or hopefully no contact - with real live living, buzzing, stinging bees.

I was already set to go with Roberta to my first bee experience, a cut-out the next Saturday morning. Then she called to invite me to get a swarm under a BBQ right in Long Beach. I was thrilled and thought a swam would be a good intro for me. They would most likely be docile since they had nothing to protect, right? Turns out that was not the case. They had started setting up housekeeping and had drawn some comb.

As Roberta helped me don my borrowed veil I thought to myself, “OK, you are all in now, girl." Roberta is an excellent teacher who spoke to me very calmly about what she was doing and why every step of the way. She had also given me some clear safety tips and I felt very comfortable.

Roberta expertly sprayed the bees with a little water and nudged the majority of the mass into a waiting box. She took the time to point out the little rear ends in the air indicating that we had the queen in the box.

It was soon clear that there were many bees who were very unhappy. They were everywhere around us and on us. The air was filled and we were covered. I could feel them bumping my thick leather gloves and my veil. Oddly, I did not feel fear or panic although I was pretty resigned to getting stung. I am still amazed that I was not.

I am also glad that it wasn’t a “typical” calm swarm situation because now I know I won’t panic.

As we rode home on the 405 we were treated to fireworks from somewhere in Long Beach while thousands of bees settled down with their queen in a box in the back seat. What a night!

This morning I feel like I have been through a life-changing initiation. I can’t remember feeling so good about myself. If you are a newbee given the opportunity to go out on a rescue with an experienced beekeeper, do it. Don’t hesitate. You will be in awe of these wonderful little creatures. That awe will only be exceeded by the way you will feel about yourself having done it.


After we had finished, Jennifer offered to help us on future rescues! Barbara's already signed up to do a cutout this weekend and her real bee gear is on the way. I'm so excited for her.



Backwards Beekeeping comes to New York City!

(click for a larger version of this flyer)

Kirk will be heading to New York City July 9th and 10th to help introduce Backwards Beekeeping to New York City. Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries will also be on hand, no doubt with his ukelele as well.

For more information, e-mail Megan [at] BrooklynHomesteader.com.

If you're anywhere in the vicinity and want to learn about treatment-free beekeeping, Brooklyn is the place to be!


Bringing the bees back to the Boy Scouts

Lawndale Backwards Beekeeper Dennis passes along this link:

Christopher Stowell, a Boy Scout in Troop 250, Skiatook, OK, needs our help! He's submitting a proposal to the National Boy Scout Council to reinstate the Beekeeping merit badge (discontinued in 1995) encouraging more young people to become beekeepers.

Beekeeping Merit Badge Petition (experienceproject.com)

Robo's World has more on the story.

El Dorado hive cutout

Ty, Melanie and Theresa

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

We got a call on the Bee Rescue Hotline from Joe at El Dorado Park in Long Beach last week. It is a big beautiful park and they had a pretty big hive up in the beams of a storage area.

This hive has come and gone many times over the years—always exterminated in the past, but this time they wanted to do something chemical-free and give the bees a new home. A group of us Long Beach guys gathered to tackle the tricky hive.

Ty, Melanie, Uri and I met in the morning to get an early start. Ty and I moved the tall ladder into place. From the ground the hive looked big but up close and about 30 feet off the ground, it looked massive.

Before starting we met many of the crew at the park who were all in favor of doing a chemical-free rescue. Theresa, who manages the park, was very supportive of our efforts. She is a wonderful woman who is also an organic gardener and pollinator supporter. She watched from a truck while we started cutting away the comb.

At first we tried to catch the comb in a bucket on a pole but with all the honey, it became a sticky mess. We saved the brood comb and let everything else fall to the ground. There were bees everywhere on the wall and in the rafters. It was crazy!

Then we vacuumed the bees over several rounds and they started to congregate into the box of brood, a good sign that we had the queen.

It was difficult to work on the ladder but the challenge made it exciting. Ty and I got a majority of the stings, but we made it through. It was the stickiest that I've ever been. I washed my jacket right away but unfortunately my camera went into the washer in the rush. Luckily the data card survived!

The bees are now in Bellflower. Thanks to El Dorado Park for supporting us.



Meggie's successful trap-out

LA Backwards Beekeeper Meggie writes:
In late April a former bee rescue client contacted me to see if I could help his mom’s doctor rescue bees living in the exterior wall of her house.

The bees had made a cozy wall hive and were accessing it through an old dryer vent. The homeowner wanted to safely extract the bees from the wall and move them to her backyard garden. I was really excited about helping Dr. Yuo because she knew the importance of these little pollinators to our ecosystem and wanted to become a beekeeper herself.

Knowing that this was a trap-out situation, something I had yet to experience hands-on, I contacted Roberta for assistance and she was kind enough to agree to be my mentor for this project.

Roberta and I agreed to meet at Dr. Yuo’s house at 6am. We started early because we both had to be at work by 7:30am, and we knew the bees would be in their hive getting ready to start their work day too.


Next Meeting: This Sunday, July 24!

The next meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers will be held on Sunday July 24th at 11am.

This month we are going to talk about Swarms and what to expect with hives during these hot months. As always, all your questions on any beekeeping topics will be addressed by our leader Kirk Anderson and/or any of the many experienced beekeepers who are in attendance.

The meeting will be in the same location as last month - The Atwater Crossing arts complex.  The address and general area information is below. Reminder that 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. We try to keep the meetings to about an hour, but there is time afterwards to talk with other attendees. This time we expect that the café will be open especially for us, so please help support Atwater Crossing Café since they have been great about allowing us to use the facility for free!

We'll also have Backwards Beekeepers t-shirts for sale for $15. We have all sizes (unisex S-XXL) back in stock.

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

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