The Book Everyone Who Loves Bees Should Have

I have been working with bees professionally for about 8 years now.  I am involved in education, conservation, training and “infotainment” all having to do with keeping bees healthy and thriving.

I talk to countless numbers of people who tell me they love bees and want to help bees but don’t want to be a beekeeper, what can they do?

You can do any one or all of these three things but if you’re only absolutely only going to do one of them, do the one that helps bees directly first.

The three things?

Buy local honey from local beekeepers.  That honey money is often the only thing that allows them to keep at what they do.  You’re not just getting awesome honey, you are helping beekeepers keep bees alive and healthy.

Become a Patreon patron of my Bee Smart beekeeping project at my Patreon page” p.  You are getting beehind the scenes access to information and activities while helping ensure that we can rescue local bees instead of them being exterminated. You are helping to make sure I can continue to do more and improve on the podcasts, videos and live presentations about bees, beekeeping and bee conservation.

Buy the book, “The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees” by Joseph Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril.  Read it.  Use it.

This book does much more than just show you multiple types of bees and how to identify them.  It shows you how to make your yard an attractive habitat and a safe place for bees.

 If you only do one of these things, BUY THIS BOOK!

Then do the other two things anyway.

Bee Smart, Bee Active, Bee Happy

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is about conservation, education and training, and having fun.

Bee Smart is set up to rescue and relocate honey bees and bumblebees from locations where they are at risk of extermination or due to circumstances of location, pose a threat or risk.  The Bees are taken alive as much as possible and relocated eventually to the new teaching apiary that is being hosted at Scatter Joy Acres, which is an acreage that focuses on animal rescue and animal therapy.

Through the Bee Smart beekeeping project I have developed a series of beekeeping classes for people that want to learn about bees and beekeeping or expand their knowledge base if they are already involved in beekeeping.  There is also an upcoming series of Bee Smart classes focused on native bees found in North America and especially in our local area.  These classes are for a gone curious to know more about how to identify and provide habitat for native bees.

Most of these classes are offered through places like Metro Community College and hopefully soon at nature and garden attractions like Lauritzen Gardens.  They can be provided to private and non-profit organizations as well by appointment.

At the developing Bee Joyful Teaching Apiary at Scatter Joy Acres, apprentice beekeepers can get hands-on experience learning skills by doing them.  These folks are called my “Beehooligans” and are often active in apicultural adventures such as assisting with live bee rescues, capturing swarms, maintaining the hives, and harvesting from the hives.

One of the fun aspects is doing the bi-monthly podcast which is like a radio show on the internet.  These are recorded live at the ranch and any Beehooligans attending that particular day are welcome to sit in and chat about all things bees and beekeeping.

By being a “Beehooligan”, people can gain practical experience, work alongside others with the same interest, and build a network or support for themselves and each other.  On top of that, if a person wants to be involved in beekeeping but doesn’t have the space or other things necessary to keep bees on their own, this gives them the opportunity to still be a beekeeper at the teaching apiary.

Get involved with the Bee Smart beekeeping project.  Learn more, do more, enjoy it more.

Honey Bees Got 99 Problems, Don’t Be Another One

They can actually make problems worse.  I know they mean well, those folks who begin conversations about honey bees requiring proper management care and attention by describing bees as woeful, abused victims of beekeepers.

Everyone has heard the stories about if honey bees, being left alone, would live in cozy trees, mind thrown beeswax and live in perfect harmony with the world.  Then the beekeepers showed up…

Honey bee colonies, entirely of their own volition, will move into just about any place that meets their minimum requirements for environmental and defensive purposes.  Dry, high, and warm.

Honey bee colonies will choose to build their nests in trees, caves, roofs, barns, grain bins, under decks and grills, in the eaves of a house, under the limb of a tree.  I have relocated honey bee nests from all of those places and more.  No beekeeper put them in those places.

Honey bees are incredible, terrifically wondrous creatures.  They can also be incredibly dumb.  Suicidally dumb in fact.

They will build nests in places that are almost certainly unsustainable for them.  It happens more than you’d think.  In fact, beekeepers hives are often a far greater nest site than most of the places we take them out of.

Beekeepers can often be the biggest problem honey bees have to contend with.  We have a tendency to not leave them alone.  We want to “help” them by applying treatments but fail to first understand not only proper application of said treatments but the circumstances, conditions and assessment procedures that should always precede any such treat to ensure they are necessary, required, or appropriate.

Beekeepers frequently fall into one of two common honey harvest problem groups for honey bees.  The first is harvesting too much.  The other being not harvesting enough.  Put bluntly, honey bees are one of handful of creatures that will produce more than they need.  Honey bees will make honey as long as there are nectar sources and space available.  By “space available”  I mean even to the point that they use all the space otherwise needed for the queen to lay eggs.

Honey bees will create a situation called being “honey bound” meaning they cannot grow the colony in space due to lack of hive boxes and lack of drawn comb that hasn’t already been filled with honey.  Colonies have killed themselves off or created an “abandon ship” situation by over producing honey.

Beekeepers that don’t harvest honey accordingly put bee colonies at risk as much as those who harvest too much.

Honey bees create enough actual problems for themselves as well as dealing with slew of environmental, predator and pathogenic problems they have already.  The last thing honey bees need is misinformed, overdramatic, hyperbole to distract beekeepers from becoming best informed, experienced and prepared to properly manage hives.

 

Help Us Rescue Bees This Year

I’ve taken the Bee Smart beekeeping project into an active project role by basing our activities and education at the new teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres in the Florence neighborhood of Omaha.

Scatter Joy Acres is already all about animal rescue with dozens of farm animals and even a camel being brought home there.  Why not join forces and make it a home for rescued bees as well?

And so we have.  When you contact me at the Bee Smart beekeeping project here to come and capture swarms that have landed on your property or to do a live removal of bee nests from inside a building or the ground, we’re talking about honey bees and bumblebees here, myself and the Beehooligans will come out and get them at as low a cost as possible to you.  Perhaps at no cost to you at all.

Instead of unnecessarily killing bees that have moved into the wrong place, those bees can be rescued and used to teach people about bees and beekeeping at the teaching apiary.

If you know of bees that need to be rescued this coming year, please call me at 402-370-8018 to schedule a live bee rescue and relocation to the new teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres.

Bee Smart Crossword #7-Notable Beekeeper Researchers

Here we again.  We have a short list of some notable people involved over the years in honey bee research.

You can work the puzzle online here or you can print out the PDF below which also includes a wordlist for those unfamiliar with apicultural terms.

Bee Smart Crossword #7_ Notable Beekeeping Researchers

As always, you can get the answer sheet for the puzzle over at the Bee Smart Patreon page.  We would love to have your support to keep our efforts moving forward.

The Bee Smart Topic for the week of 11-06-2017

Hey there folks.  We are still trying to maintain a certain focus on the things we post on here at the Bee Smart beekeeping project on a weekly basis.

This week, we’re going to pay a bit more attention to bees and pesticides.  Both the Crossword and Wordsearch puzzles are based on this topic and Big Bear will be doing a video doing a mini “class” on the subject as well.

Hop on over to the website forums and share your ideas and experiences having to do with bees and pesticides in your little piece of the world.  We’d love to see you there.

Bee Smart Crosswords #4 – The Pests of Honey Bees

Word list:

ANTS
BEARS
BIRDS
DEER
DRAGONFLIES
MICE
PEOPLE
RACOONS
ROACHES
SHB
SKUNKS
SMALLHIVEBEETLE
SPIDERS
TRACHEALMITE
VARROA
WAXMOTH
YELLOWJACKETS

You can download the PDF and print out the puzzle and the answer sheet by clicking on the links…

Crossword 4 PDF

Crossword 4 Answer sheet

The Bee Smart Online Crossword Puzzle #1: Basic Anatomy

 

If online puzzles aren’t your thing, you can download a PDF version by clicking on this link.  The PDF even includes a wordlist for a little extra help.

Crossword Hobbyist – Basic Bee Biology

The answer sheet is also available as a download for our patrons over at our Bee Smart Patreon site.

Meet a Miner Bee-Andrena astragali

There are more than 4,500 species of bees in the world commonly referred to as “Miner” bees.  This one in particular, the Andrena astragali, is a specialist that likes to forage on a plant called the “Death Cama” AKA Toxicoscordion.

Toxicoscordion venenosum (Death Camas) - Flickr - brewbooks
By brewbooks from near Seattle, USA (Toxicoscordion venenosum (Death Camas)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Death Cama is known for being poisonous as it contains a type of neurotoxin that is harmful to just about everything in every part of it, even the nectar.  Everything except Andrena astragali that is.