flour + water + bees
Bazz, the beekeeping dog has been trained to detect American Foulbrood.
I wonder if they make this suit in Kona’s size?
Here at Flour+Water, our bees live Golden Hives rather than the traditional Langstroth hives. We are not alone in experimenting with alternative hive designs, however. Many beekeepers all over the world are looking for ways to reduce stress on their bees and provide them with a more natural living environment.
Diane Summers and Eric Valli document the bi-yearly honey harvest of the Gurung tribe of West-Central Nepal – home to the worlds largest honeybee, Apis laborosa.
An amazing collection of honeybee photographs by Eric Tourneret.
Scientists believe that, in the United States, the decades-long practice of treating honeybees with tetracycline has led to their resistance of the antibiotic. Yet more evidence to support more natural approaches to beekeeping.
Urban beekeeping is sometimes a touchy subject. Mary Catherine O’Connor touches on some of the issues:
As urban populations grow in lockstep with interest in urban agriculture, conflicts over where and whether hives should be kept may continue to escalate.
“Historically, beekeepers want to stay under the radar,” says Peteros. “But being in the urban agriculture movement, we felt that having bees visible in an urban environment is also an important form of passive education. Even in dense urban places like San Francisco … if we are going to be successful in helping people grow their own food, we need pollinators.”
In beekeeping circles it is said that if you want to know the answer to something, ask a second year beekeeper – they think they know everything.
I don’t know what second year beekeepers these people are talking to. I am in the the middle of my second year with the bees I can confidently say that I know a whole lot less about this creature than when I started.
I have no answers. I am not even sure of the questions, to be honest.
This year has been both exciting and terrifying in a standing-on-the-very-edge-of-a-precipice-overhanging-a-dark-and-bottomless-void kind of a way. I have made a lot of mistakes and have subsequently accessed a much deeper level of understanding my relationship with the honeybee and, on a much greater scale, the world around me. That is to say: I have come to really accept not just how little I know about anything, but how little I will always know – and to allow myself to be guided by my mistakes and fears rather than inhibited by them.
When I started out this Spring, I was really trying to convince myself that I had a handle on what I was doing. I was so determined to claim an intimate knowledge of the honeybee and while, in my heart of hearts, I knew that it wasn’t so, I believed that my earnest desire would be enough to make it manifest. Armed with this false confidence, I decided to split the hive at Flour+Water and move the split to Central Kitchen, down the street. The split was made without incident but in the weeks that followed, the split failed to raise a viable queen. In a panic, I made a trip up to Healdsburg to purchase a replacement queen. She failed, as well. I moved a frame of brood from the original colony into the split along with a third queen… who failed. Finally, I decided to stop interfering. I didn’t want to lose this colony, but they weren’t responding to my efforts at saving it. Inspecting the hive two weeks ago I found the colony raising their own queen. Whether or not they will survive is still unclear and I go back and forth between thinking that letting them be is the right thing to do and thinking that it’s irresponsible and that I am a terrible human being.
I really don’t want to be a terrible human being. Even more than that, however, I don’t want to let my ego get in the way of doing what is best for the bees. Intuitively I feel that this is the right choice, even if it isn’t. I have let go of the illusion that I have all of the answers and have opened myself up to the possibility of failure and of the lessons it may unlock.
It’s been an extremely mild winter here in San Francisco. Most days, the bees have been out foraging for whatever is available to them this time of year. I’ve seen pollen coming in every time I’ve checked on my hives. Knowing that the colony at the restaurant was quite strong this past fall I’ve made several brief inspections over the winter months. Last Wednesday, with the help of a friend, I made a more comprehensive inspection. The outermost frames were filled with honey and covered with bees. As we went further in we found both worker and drone brood surrounded by a beautiful arc of rainbow colored pollen. And then, there it was… a queen cell. All winter I’ve been mentally preparing for this moment. I have had some nucleus hives specially built in the event that I would need to split the colony early in the season due to the warm weather. In my heart of hearts I really don’t want to make the split. I feel incredibly torn between my desire to let the bees do what they know is best for them and doing what I feel might avoid any controversy. I know that people can be fearful of swarms. I also believe that swarms provide us with a great opportunity to invite people to witness and better understand what I consider to be a truly miraculous act of nature. I promise to keep you posted once the final call has been made!
An excellent video explaining honeybee communication: