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.