Visiting fennel flowers

In coming! Bee goes to work on the valerian

With the recent introduction of the new queen (check out Justin’s bee post here) the guys have started a family tree with all the bee lines. It’s fun to decipher the bee history line after each time they go in to inspect the hives.

Deciphering their coded lingo:  from what I can tell, they are  classified as a “keeper,” a “Red Cross,” and a “survivor” queens.  I think that is what it says!

Bee history

Beekeeping is slightly more involved than  keeping ducks or chickens. Sure, the bees do most of the work, but you have to stay on top of your hive maintenance – no slacking. Besides, bees are independent – they don’t listen to nobody! Especially true for those who keep bees in the city and these days, with so many folks saving feral bees, we need to be aware of the first signs of disease and swarm cells. Empty beehive boxes can fill up fast this time of year.

Justin has been helping several newbie beekeepers who had questions about their beehives. Bee colonies multiply by splitting via a swarm that usually consists of the original older queen and many worker bees who leave the hive and fly off to start a new colony. Many new beekeepers have gotten their start from swarms (we include ourselves here). Witnessing a swarm is a pretty intense experience, but, as a beekeeper, you don’t want that happening too often! If a swarm does happen early in the season, the bees will survive just fine; but with a late season swarm, it could jeopardize the colony come winter if there aren’t enough bees/honey.

As a beekeeper, you need to always bee prepared! You can’t just have bees, you gotta keep ’em!

Learn more about Swarms


  1. James Moore says:

    Another informative post. Thank you

  2. Anais says:

    Whoops, forgot to link Justin’s Re-Queening post. Duh!

  3. CE says:

    Glad to see you stressing keeping vs having bees. It is especially true now with CCD wipeing out hives. Since this deadly disorder is still not understood there is no treatment but prevention. I am always a bit surprised at how many people still do not know about this problem or what it could mean to agriculture and each of us individually. I have no interest in keeping honey bees but am starting out with some Mason or Blue Orchard bees this next season so right now I am learning all I can on their care. Their presence in my garden should really boost production especially since they fly well in our cool wet springs.

    • Anais says:

      @CE: Yeah, it’s sad that because bees are now “trendy” there are more and more bee havers than beekeepers (we are seeing it firsthand here in LA). This could have an unfortunate backlash for folks who are jumping into the honey pot without knowing what they are doing. OMB are a smart decision if you want pollinators in the garden. 😉

  4. Tori says:

    Amazing chin-dropping bee photography.

    • Anais says:

      @Tori: Thanks for the comments! Ever since we were little we loved taking picture and are happy to share the click of our lens with others.

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