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Posts Tagged ‘Women Beekeeping’

Bee on the Wing in Blue Rosemary.

Last week began with the discovery of a new obsession–photographing bees on the wing with a macro lens.  The super-narrow depth-of-field of the lens made it difficult to catch a bee in focus, but in this image she is moving too fast for my shutter speed.  Still, after 75 shots, I think this one is a keeper.

Then it was off to pick up package bees on Friday morning.  The second and third week of April should be considered a national holiday, as every beekeeper in the King and Snohomish counties of Washington seemed to be as eager as Rachael and me to pick up their bees.  Our unintentionally extended adventure turned into a beautiful day together.

Rachael Poses with 4 lb. Packages of Bees.

The next morning I was up early and on my way to Onalaska, WA, to pick up Carniolans from Jason and Heather Sherwood.  A lot of people ask me where Onalaska is, and all I can say is it’s rural, southwestern Washington.  I was there at 7:30 and back on the road by 8:30.

Package Bees Awaiting Pick-up at the Sherwood Apiary.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night were dedicated to the introduction of package bees.  We welcome back colonies to the Central District and Capital Hill in Seattle, as well as Smoke Farm.

Throughout the weekend, just when I thought I might take a break and have lunch, my phone would ring.  Hives were swarming!  Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, as well as last night (Thursday 4/22), were filled with swarm catching.  Michael watched one form from his window on Saturday, and together we caught it without any protective gear.  Kelle helped me catch the swarm on their Blue House and temporarily introduce them to a nuc (a small, five-frame hive for rearing queens and keeping a small swarm).  But the swarm story to be told comes from West Seattle, where Rachael and I found a monster-sized swarm:

The Longfellow Creek Community Garden Swarm.

The call came in on Friday from Jayne.  Jayne Simmons, co-founder of Good Food Gardens, plants lavish healthy gardens in your yard, maintains the Longfellow Creek Community Garden, and makes salves, tinctures and infused oils as Sister Sage Herbs.  She and I had spoken earlier in the year about introducing bees to the Longfellow garden and even teaming up to introduce bees to her garden projects, but I just didn’t have the money to prepare the equipment and purchase bees.  The bees, however, had other intentions and came to her.

I asked Rachael if she would like the honor of catching this swarm, introducing it to a hive, and maintaining it at the Longfellow Garden.  Since my Valentine’s Day post, a lot of people have been wondering if I have introduced Rachael to the bees and if they approve of her.  Well, this was the weekend, and the answer is decidedly yes!

Rachael, aka Lady Awesome, Catches Swarm!

Later that evening, Rachael and Jayne introduced the swarm to a beautifully exposed corner of the Longfellow Garden.  This week ends with three new Women of the Swarm, Kelle, Jayne, and Lady Awesome!

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How a Honeybee Swarm Decides Where to Nest

My friend, Water Buffalo and the Swift Clicks, starts awesome rumors about me, like: “i was talking with my friends about bees and pollen today and you came up. i said you were a troll and that you whisper to the bees in beeish and they do your bidding and all that you sleep curled up in a potato sack underneath the hives and protect the bees from bears.  something like that anyway.”  She doesn’t capitalize and had asked me a while ago in response to my Please, someday enjoy bees over tea entry, “were there female bee keepers in medieval times?”

I haven’t discovered a suitable response to that question, but in the spirit of that question I want to tell you about three remarkable women and their passion for bees:

  1. Annie D. Betts (1884-1961) was an engineer and scientist who worked on aeronautical research during the First World War.  Her contribution to beekeeping history was the discovery of a common fungal disease effecting beehives, Chalk Brood.  She was also involved in the founding of the Apis club in England and served as Editor and President in 1930.  She was known to ride a motorcycle to work.  *
  2. Dorothy Hodges (1898-1979) was an artist and began beekeeping at 42 years of age, acquiring a small colony with no previous experience or handling knowledge.  From there she began drawing and painting bees, especially those carrying pollen loads, and that grew into an avid study of pollen, their seasons of production, color, size and shape, all drawn from images through a microscope.  She is best known for her book, “The Pollen Loads of Honey-bees.” *

    Juliana Rangel-Posada

  3. Juliana Rangel-Posadais is studying swarm behavior at Cornell University Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.  She has recently released a video of the changes inside a hive in the hour before and as a swarm occurs.  Swarming is a vibrant, populous hive splitting off to form a new hive.  She has discovered that a small percentage or oligarchy of bees release a piping sound that instigates the rest of the bees to swarm.  Although we know that swarming is influenced by over-crowding in the hive, the lessening influence of queen pheromone in the hive, and adequate honey and nectar available in the field, what we don’t know is the actual mechanism and trigger through which this event happens.  Her research is cutting edge and awesome to watch:

Video Link: Bee swarms follow ‘pied pipers’

*Information on Annie D. Betts and Dorothy Hodges was gleaned from Great Masters of Beekeeping, Brown, Ron, Bee Books New and Old, Somerset, UK, 1994.

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