Your Bee Rescue Hotline at work: Granada Hills

LA Backwards Beekeeper Max answered a call to the Bee Rescue Hotline:

This Granada Hills swarm capture was a piece of cake. The swarm, about the size of 1 1/2 footballs, was in a hedge next to the front lawn. When I arrived, a gardener (totally oblivious to the swarm just to his left and above his head) was actually mowing the lawn. He nearly had a heart attack when I pointed out the swarm! After he finished, I sprayed the swarm with sugar water, cut the dominant branch with a pair of pruners that I brought along, and gently shook them in a nuc box.

I was in and out in about 30 minutes. I even took along a neighbor who now has total bee fever :)



Your bee rescue hotline at work: Westwood

Check out the handmade warning sign.

LA Backwards Beekeeper Ruth writes about a true community effort:

I responded to a swarm call in Westwood—I was right in the neighborhood. There was a little grapefruit-sized swarm hanging from a crosswalk sign in a super-busy intersection! I used my trusty 1-quart milk carton to get them into a little cardboard box, taped onto the top of my ladder.

Matrone and Erich.

The swarm call was made by Susan Olsen, who learned about the crosswalk-bees from Westwood Ambassadors Matrone Hutchings and Erich Knapper, who work for the Westwood Village Improvement Association.

They in turn, were notified by a manager at the Trader Joes in front of the crosswalk, who heard about the bees from a pedestrian named Frank.


Frank makes documentary films and is very aware of environmental issues. His next film will be about the importance of insect-eating bats.

While I was hanging around waiting for the bees all to go in to the box, a young guy stopped in his tracks in front of the swarm box. "Oh my God that is a swarm box! Amazing!" he yelled.

I said to him "That is MY amazing swarm box! Are you a beekeeper?"

And he said "I am a Backwards Beekeeper!"

And that's how I met Chance, who's been learning beekeeping from Walker and Kirk.


So I said, "Chance, where do you keep your bees?"

And he told me, "I don't have any yet!"

So I gave him these Crosswalk Sign Bees.

And then the corner went back to normal.



James and Kirk get a surprise swarm

Los Angeles Backwards Beekeeper James writes:

Over the past few weeks I had started to notice the comings and goings of the hive was becoming greatly reduced. I spoke with Kirk a few times and he encouraged me to see what was going on for myself.

Upon doing this on sunday morning, I noticed that the bees had become restricted to a third of the super at the bottom of the hive. Lots of empty black brood filled the other 4 brood boxes. I rang and spoke to Kirk about this and seeing as he was close by, he very kindly offered to stop by.

We set about donning our gear and firing up the smoker, to take a further look. My smoker fuel was a bit on the lame side, so Kirk went to his truck to fetch some more fuel. It was then I walked down to the hive and heard what I thought were some angry bees buzzing around the box. I then looked up and saw a massive swarm about to descend on the hive. Kirk arrived back from the truck and we stood in amazement by what was happening!

Kirk said they were either leaving the hive or arriving...it took him but only a few minutes to recognise it was a whole new swarm of bees. We went down to the hive and Kirk slid open the two top brood boxes a little and the bees happily moved inside.

Needless to say Kirk and I spent a great couple of hours in and amongst the bees, watching them doing the amazing work of establishing a new home!


Here's the video!


Next Meeting: Sunday, March 24 at NOON

The next meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers is scheduled!

Sunday, March 24
Noon (note that this meeting is one hour later than usual!)

Citibank, Silver Lake branch
2450 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles 90039

As usual, everyone is welcome to the meetings, especially those who are new to beekeeping. Here's what we plan to talk about:
  • Longtime chemical-free beekeeper (and highly entertaining speaker/singer/songwriter) Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries in upstate New York joins us for a film presentation and discussion. Sam is the man; don't miss this!

  • Questions from new beekeepers

See you there!


Top Bar Mentoring at Farm Lot 59

Shannon, new beekeeper

LA Backwards Beekeeper Roberta writes:

Shannon and I took a look at the top bar hive at Farm Lot 59 in Long Beach. Farm Lot 59 is run by Sasha Kanno and is a chemical-free farm with fresh fruits, veggies and eggs. She is opening her new farm stand this week. We hope to be adding honey to the bounty soon because their top bar hive is booming.

There is a lot to the story about how this hive came to be. It’s a handmade hive by Steve at BuBees, made of reclaimed wood from the shelves of a beloved Long Beach bookstore, Acre of Books. It was provided by Larry Rich of the Long Beach Sustainability Office.

I can’t remember exactly where the bees came from but Barbara, Henry, Dick and Jaimie of the Long Beach Beekeepers helped transfer the bees to the hive and now they are booming. Now Shannon, a new beekeeper, will be taking care of this hive. I’ll be honest, I’ve never managed a top bar hive but it looks simple enough.

We took a look through the window and the bees were jam-packed and definitely needed some more room. That window is really helpful. We closed it up and gently smoked the hive. The bees were super calm and didn’t mind us at all. We took off the lid and removed the follower board to the right to give them two bars more, in retrospect I probably should have given them 4. They didn’t mind this either.

We could see a bar complete with capped honey but we had two problems: (1) No bucket for honey and (2) No knife to cut the comb away from the hive. Oh well, gives us something to do next time.

We moved the bars over and things were going so well we figured we’d mess with the other end. We took that frame out and this, they minded. We got a great picture of Shannon with the bees and then we closed everything up.

Shannon is a natural with the bees and has the right demeanor to be a great beekeeper. We’ll be harvesting honey for the farm and giving them more room in a couple of weeks.