Backyard and Backwards Beekeeping

I did a natural beekeeping Zoom talk for the Pasadena Public Library last month and they’ve posted it in the YouTubes for all to see. Fun fact: if you watch until the Q&A you’ll notice that my desktop computer is installed in our closet thus making my Zoom background a pile of folded sheets.

In the talk I give a brief intro to bee biology and then go over the way I keep bees here as taught to me by “backwards” beekeeping guru Kirk Anderson.

Beekeeping resources I mention during the talk:

Organizations/Websites
HoneyLove.org: local non-profit that provides hands-on education and resources for backyard beekeepers.

Principles of Beekeeping Backwards, a manifesto by Charles Martin Simon: https://www.beesource.com/threads/principles-of-beekeeping-backwards.365763/

Xerces society: for information on native bees and how to provide habitat. https://www.xerces.org/

YouTube
Backwards Beekeepers how-to videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL23D3FtWNSvrs1NDKjpDWolmVfDgcJTKX

Books
Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives: The Easy and Treatment-Free Way to Attract and Keep Healthy Bees by Rob and Chelsea McFarland

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping by Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer (believe it or not a good intro to natural beekeeping practices). Not to be confused with the Dummies Guide to Beekeeping.

Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide, Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies by The Xerces Society (Author), Dr. Marla Spivak (Foreword).

Help I’ve got bees in my wall!
Henry Balding Balding’s Bees (213) 422-8444

Online Beekeeping Talk for Pasadena Grows

Hey all I’m doing an Zoom talk on beekeeping this Saturday March 6th at 10:30 AM PST. It’s freeeeeeeeeee and you can sign up here. I’m going to review basic honey bee biology and then get into the techniques of “Backwards” a.k.a. “natural,” a.k.a. “no-treatment” beekeeping, a.k.a. “bee-having” as the trolls call it. Hope to see some of you this Saturday!

Urban Beekeeping 101 with Paul Hekimian, Director of HoneyLove

The Hollywood Orchard, along with HoneyLove is putting on an online webinar this week:

Urban Beekeeping 101 with Paul Hekimian, Director of HoneyLove
Online Workshop/Webinar
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM (pacific)

Are you interested in raising honey bees and reaping the benefits of having local honey? Does having your own beehive sound intriguing? If yes, then this class is for you. Urban Beekeeping 101 will cover everything you need to know on how to get started!

We will cover local bee ordinances, what urban beekeeping is or is not, where to place a hive, what equipment is needed, choosing a type of beehive, where to get bees, how to harvest honey and how to find a mentor. Join this webinar and learn from Paul Hekimian, 2nd generation beekeeper and director of HoneyLove.org, as he walks you through how to become an urban beekeeper.

Head here to register.

Boozing Bees

I had the privilege of attending Honey Love’s natural beekeeping conference this weekend and I hope to share some insights from the talks and conversations I had with other beekeepers, but I’m pressed for time this morning so let me just drop one tidbit that comes via Michael Bush. Bush mentioned that Cornell digitized the American Bee Journal from the years 1861 through 1900 as well as a lot of other old publications. Here’s an amusing an excerpt from advice column in the May 1900 issue of American Bee Journal:

Mr. Dadant:–Did you ever here of any one feeding whiskey to bees in honey, and is it true that it renders them bolder and causes them to try to rob other hives? About a week ago, a man who has three colonies of bees, told me that some strange bees were completely robbing one of his colonies. Today very probably the same bees were robbing one of mine, and I only have three. I stopt up the entrances, and that helped some, for my bees are quite strong.

I was told that when bees were fed whiskey in honey it makes them bold to rob other people’s bee. What is your opinion? ILLINOIS.

In the first place, one thing which we must establish before all others, is that the bees do not discriminate between the colonies which belong to their owner and other people’s bees. It looks as if it might be superfluous to mention this, but I have often heard the remark that Mr. So-and-So’s bees were robbing Mr. Somebody’s hives, just as if a man could “set” his bees onto another man’s apiary as bad boys “set” one dog onto another, or as some of our so-called civilized Christians organize a prize-fight. . .

I have never heard of strong drink being used in feeding bees, except in one instance. I remember reading in L’Apiculteur years ago, of an old time beekeeper having fed his bees with bread dipt in honey which had been mixt with a proportion of wine, to cure them of diarrhea early in the spring . . .

The beekeeper whose colonies are robbed by other bees, whiskey or no whiskey, can lay the blame on himself, and himself alone. A colony of bees in healthy condition and properly managed should fear nothing from robber bees, except by some accident beyond the control of the apiarist, such as the breaking down of combs by heat, or the upturning of the hive by wind or mischievous animals or human beings.

In this same issue, there’s an article about an attempt to reconcile the need to spray fruit trees with pesticide and the impact of those chemicals on bees. Another talk at the conference by Dr. May Berenbaum of Cornell, that I was only able to hear part of, looked at the history of the use of pesticides. Honeybees are a complex organism and their interaction with pesticides can often work in counter-intuitive ways, as Berenbaum showed in a study that proved that even fungicides, thought to be safe, can impact bee colonies. In over a hundred years of tinkering with chemicals and bees we’re still making stupid mistakes. In addition to that whiskey there’s a lot of other things we shouldn’t be dosing bees with.

Natural Beekeeping Conference this Saturday and Sunday


This weekend, January 18th and 19th I’ll be a part of Honey Love’s Natural Beekeeping Conference at USC. In honor of the memory of Susan Rudnicki, I’m going to discuss bee removal scams, corruption in bee academia and pesticide astroturfing campaigns among other incendiary topics that Susan tirelessly pursued for the sake of the bees she loved so much. I’m humbled to be a part of a roster that includes all of the knowledgeable voices in the natural beekeeping world:

• Michael Bush • Les Crowder • Dr. May Berenbaum • Sam Comfort • Michael Thiele • Laura Bee Ferguson • Rob Keller • Sarah Red-Laird •  Solomon Parker • Jacqueline Freeman • Noah Wilson Rich • Matt Reed • Amanda Shaw • Paul Cronshaw  • Ariella Daly • Anna Marie Despiris • Fonta Molyneaux • Erik Knutzen • Max Wong • Rob and Chelsea McFarland

If you’re interested in bees this conference is not to be missed. For more information head over to Honey Love.