Archive | June, 2011

The Bee Dance

30 Jun

Remember when I mentioned doing an interpretive dance to celebrate pollinator week? Well it turns out, I already did one. Two summers ago Mike’s family and I went up to Eagle Island, Maine to visit his aunt and cousins. At the time, they had just started their hives and we took part in an inspection. I was so curious about it then that I got to be involved and take the hive notes.

Hive opening led by Mike's aunt

The more hesitant folks (including Mike) stood at a safer distance to watch.

The hesistant crowd

Me and the hive

Frame full of bees

Bee Birth

Bee Birth

The Brooklyn crew

At the time I had no idea that I would be opening a hive myself but I was super curious about how it all worked. I am glad that I got a taste of beekeeping then. It fueled my love for it now.

Next hive opening is happening tomorrow at lunchtime if anyone wants to come join us in Brooklyn!

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Hive Inspection # 4

28 Jun

Last week’s hive inspection was very intense. We had two deeps to look through and plenty more bees to deal with. Aside from the fact that I got stung , it was a success.

We saw plenty more capped brood, which means it is only a matter of days before we have even more bees will join the force.

There is still a lot of honey on the top deep. We aren’t sure if we should extract it now to make room for more bees or let the bees figure out how to best use their space.

Frame with some Brood

Frame full of bees

Although we didn’t actually see the queen this time, we did see plenty of evidence that she was there. I swear a saw some eggs but Mike and Deb had a hard time seeing them. There was a good amount of larva and capped brood. We also witnessed a bee birth.

Bee Birth

I hope we see the Queen during the next inspection but there are so many more bees to sort through. I have to find my camera charger so I can be prepared for some epic bee pictures.

Queen of the Sun

24 Jun


Last week, Mike, Deb and I went to see the documentary Queen of the Sun. It was playing for a week at Cinema Village in the East Village, so we made the time to go. I just found out that it is playing in Brooklyn, starting today through 6/30. Visit this site for more information and movie times. Everyone should check it out or at least put it on your Netflix queue for when it is released.

The movie is about how bees are disappearing, mainly in the United States. Scientists call it colony collapse but they haven’t figured out what is causing it. Before I saw the movie, I had no idea that there was such a thing as industrial beekeeping. It is scary to think that we could be contributing to the death of the honey bee since almost 40% of our food is pollinated by honey bees. Even if someone never wants to step near a hive, they can make a difference by not using pesticides or chemicals in their yard.

Check out the movie or read the NY times article about it. And if you do go see it, keep yours eyes out for Deb. She is in the part about how bee keeping was illegal in New York City.

It’s time for the Pollinator

23 Jun

If you think I couldn’t get any more dorky than wanting to remix this song to sing to my bees (it’s time for the pollinator), then you were wrong. It is National Pollinator Week!!!!! Sadly, there aren’t any events taking place in Brooklyn, so we are going to have to celebrate ourselves. I will probably do an interpretive bee dance and eat some extra honey. Here are some pictures of the bees pollinating away that Deb took in our backyard.

Pollinating Clover in the grass

Off to the next one

Making a "bee" line for the tomatillos

Pollinating the tomatillos

Pollinating the Hydrangea

The Sting

22 Jun

It happened. Our perfect record has come to an end. I’ve been stung. I totally deserved it too.

I had just got back to Brooklyn after being in New Jersey celebrating my Grandmother’s life. We hadn’t inspected the hive in a week and a half and I was anxious to get in there. Earlier in the day it looked like it was going to rain but then the forecast said that it wouldn’t start until later in the evening. Mike had to volunteer at the coop at 7:30 so we had to be quick about it. Without discussing a plan of action or talking about who would do what, we started the inspection. Just as we started, we heard Deb pull in the driveway and told her to hurry up and join us (and bring a camera since mine was dead). That is how unprepared we were, I didn’t even have a charged camera!

We got through the top deep and 8 frames of the bottom deep before it happened. There were more bees in the hive so it is more intense. The 9th frame had a beetle on it and as I went to tell Mike to kill it, it happened. I got stung. I didn’t freak out and drop the frame or cry. I put the frame in the hive and walked away. The bee keeping books say that when you get stung, you should immediately smoke the sting. The sting sends a smell signal to other bees that there is danger. Smoking it masked the smell. You aren’t suppose to pull our the stinger but scrape it with your finger nail instead. I’m not sure why. Mike said that my finger was still pulsing after I scraped it, but I didn’t notice. I was too startled by how much it throbbed. It didn’t swell or turn extremely red. At least I know I am not allergic.

Finger, post sting

An Unexpected Visitor

20 Jun

Last week, a health inspector came to the house unannounced. The first time that this happened, beekeeping was illegal in New York and Deb had to donate the hive. Since beekeeping is now legal, this time was different. Here is what the email from Deb said:

“This afternoon an inspector from the Health Dept. appeared on the front stoop, and I thought we’d been busted again! But he was just making the rounds of all the registered hives in the city — he said there were 54 in the five boros, which seemed low to me. Just wanted to make sure we were set up properly, the bees’ flight path was not criss crossing someone else’s patio and, most important, that they had a good source of water. Liv, (our upstairs neighbor) thought our operation deserved an A (though a “B” might have been more appropriate), so we made one. Billie stood guard. xo”

"Inspection Sticker"


Billie Jean standing guard

Last July, restaurants in New York city started to receive letter grades from health department for their cleanliness. Most restaurants get As and Bs and occasionally one will say “Grade Pending”. When Mike and I went on date night last week we ate at a restaurant with a B rating. The food was ok but there was a bottle of cleaning solution and a rag left on the table next to us.

I like to think that our hive is very well kept and meets the highest sanitary levels, even if I never wear gloves when I work with the bees.

The Queen of all queens

17 Jun

Like a queen bee, my grandmother was the epicenter of my colony-sized family. Having one son and seven daughters, my grandmother managed to keep most of the family within a 30 mile radius. Even my 10 cousins are in the NJ area. There was never a holiday or a birthday (and there are many) that didn’t have at least 15-20 relatives in attendance. Even those worker bee aunts that live out-of-state manage to visit multiple times a year. What is more remarkable is the amount of coordination my mother and her sisters have. Just like worker bees in a hive, my aunts each take on a task and always come together to create endless buffets of food and dessert. I credit this to my matriarchal grandmother. She was the master of hosting a party in her apron and from the kitchen. Even the birds in the neighborhood ate well. My grandmother was endlessly generous with her time and energy. She will be missed greatly.

Grandma and me at my brother's wedding 12/06


Grandma at my cousin's wedding 07/08


Grandma at her great-grandson's christening


My aunts and Grandma 10/06


Six of the sisters


Grandma and her daughters