Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We Made the Cover Of the Washington City Paper

In this year's edition of the City Paper's "Encyclopedia of DC 2013", the NPR bees were profiled, the hives we introduced earlier this year (I hope they survive this winter!!).  Yours truly made the cover:

Here is a link to the accompanying article:

More shameless self-promotion.

Merry Christmas!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Junior Beekeepers

I like to think I helped create some future beekeepers today. After boiling another sugar-water mix and walking out of the house carrying our masks, gloves and syrup, the same secondary school boys from last week immediately perked up. They actually remembered, and were excited about helping me feed the bees!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Late Season Hive Check in NoMa - Video

We have a client with a unique culinary use in an industrial area of the neighborhood known as NoMa.  We had originally placed a couple of hives in an alley behind their use, an alley that was essentially only accessible to them although it is technically in public space.

Their first load of bees were literally sucked away by a giant fan that we did not know about that ventilated an adjacent garage.

So with a ladder, some rope, and some sweat we relocated the bees to the rooftop.  The nice thing about this location, in spite of the access, is the large area for the hives, putting them regulation distance from the property line for conformance with our new law.

Here is the video we took that day with more details.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tenemos Abejas!

They're finally here! All 20,000 are snuggly tucked into their new hives at Almeria, on a eucalyptus table right next to our newly-planted potatoes and largest lagunita. It was somewhat of a struggle to get to this point -- and it only happened today through sheer coersion -- but it happened! We have bees!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Making Simple Small Hive Beetle Traps

My friend Jerry showed me how to do this.  Cheap, easy, and effective.  We use two of these on the top of each brood chamber (on the frame top bars), set close to the edge of the box where the beetles like to congregate.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Harvesting a Ton of Rhode Island Honey

You may remember that we have a place in RI where we have two hives on the roof.  When we returned this spring I had expected both to be dead, based upon the national stats on dead-outs after this winter.  And these bees had to deal with both Sandy and a cold and long winter and high mite infestations.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Got Abejas?

*Through a partnership with Global Bees, DC Honeybees was able to help install two beehives at a primary school in Almeria near Cusco, Peru. Here are our updates and stay tuned for more!*

WE BOUGHT OUR BEES TODAY! Our director, Oscar, came back from his business trip, corraled me, Mads and Baltezar into his car, and drove us to his “bee guy” in Cusco. Well, this was a friend of his former bee guy who now is apparently a fugitive avoiding law enforcement somewhere in Argentina. Sounds a little crazy, but apparently todos los apicultors en Peru son un poco loco, and actually, that’s pretty much the same in DC too. Anywho, I digress. Once we got to the Mundo de las Abejas de Jossua (a self-proclaimed Gringo, according to his flyers) the Quebecoise owner, Jossua, immediately starting falling all over himself to help us out. We told him about Almeria and our current state of funding, or better yet, lack thereof, and immeiately he jumped on board, handing us some sort of cure-all diluted propolis spray por los ninos.

Over the course of what seemed like five hours, Jossua had — very thouroughly — gone over the beekeeping basics, rattled off the same bee statistics that Jeff Miller and I quote for DC Honeybees engagements, scooped out taste-testers from each of his honey/pollen products, and last but not least, showed us his nucleus colonies on the rooftop behind his shop (sound familiar Jeff?)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Australian Broadcasting Corp Piece on Bee Losses in America

Some of our friends and fellow beekeepers were interviewed about their rooftop hive for this very nice piece.  Check it out HERE.

Monday, July 1, 2013

My new $688 Acquisition

This is me getting ready to expand the apiary to do some pollination.  We have lots of Don's bees, and lots of equipment.  We are building pallets.  We are making splits.  We are considering purchasing a trailer to drag these things.

But we need to identify our hives by markers other than our colors (white, and Ballerina Pink, per my kids....those things will stand out!!).  We need to properly mark our hives for identification so that they are easily recognized and loaded in the almonds.  Ahhhh....the almonds.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We Made the Drudge Report!

Well, sort of.

Here is the headline:

NPR Shows Off New Facility: Wellness center, café, beehives on roof... a gong?

Those are the beehives we installed for them a few weeks back and are managing.  We will take what we can get.

Here is the article.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Making Pallets

With the bee delivery season behind us we are making splits and introducing queens to increase the number of colonies we have to 40 at our off-site apiary.  These 40 will make the trek to FLA in September or October to feast on the Brazilian Pepper nectar flow, build up in size, and then be ready for the almonds in February.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week is back! Designated by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Pollinator Week will run from Monday, June 17 through Sunday, June 23. Events will run throughout the week in an effort to educate people about pollinators and their essential role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. 

Monday, June 17, 7-9 p.m.
921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

Thursday, June 20, 6:30-9 p.m.
City Blossoms Garden at corner of 11th and Harvard NW              

Friday, June 21, 10-2 p.m.
2th and Independence, SW

June 12 - 26
U.S. Dept. of the Interior: 1849 C St., NW

This celebration will recognize the importance of birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, and, of course, bees! Honeybees are specifically designed to carry pollen, which they consume as a source of protein. In flying from flower to flower, bees drink nectar and collect pollen grains they store in pollen-baskets on their hind legs known as scopa. In doing so, honeybees help to transfer pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma, initiating fertilization.

Pollinator Partnership has a full list of events.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Article On Bee Shortages In the Almonds This Past Spring

 My buddy Jerry from, Rock Hill Bee Farms, sent me the following article.  You may remember that Jerry has helped us supply bees to the DC area, and has graciously allowed me to partner with him as we expand our apiary for pollination.  I am posting it as a link as it is rather large:


The article is especially interesting for us hobbyist as it details the commercial beeks' issues with varroa last year, which translated into significant losses coming out of this past prolonged winter.  Sound familiar?

It also tries to put into perspective the science behind the threat of neonics.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Our Third and Season Finale Trip to Don the Not-So-Fat FatBeeMan - VIDEO

We had our final visit to Don this season, to bathe in his knowledge and pick up 35 more packages.  Most of these packages will go into nucs in our nuc-ery and be used to expand our pollination prospects.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vandal Hits Church of the Pilgrims' Hives

One of our intern's Kallisa went out to tend these hives this past weekend and was greeted with all the boxes upended and on the ground.  She put them all back together, and we assumed it was an isolated incident.

It wasn't.  I received a call from the church's caretaker on Tuesday saying that he had seen a homeless man screwing with the hives again the night before, swatting away bees.  He must have come back after the caretaker went to bed, because the hives were in bad shape Wednesday.  We came out to witness the carnage.

The bees were in good shape, huddled in the deep supers.  We did not look for a queen, but rather just put the hive bodies back in place and hoped for the best.

We are going to ratchet strap these hives down to deter another event, although a determined vandal can get through those.  We will see.

Monday, May 20, 2013

More Bees Coming

We are getting more package bees in from Don the FatBeeMan on May 30.  Please visit our store to order them.

I know it seems late in the season to install a package, but with regular feeding through the summer the bees should get a satisfactory start before heading into winter.  We are building up our own apiary with these friendly bees.

Note that these bees have been raised on small cell foundation (4.9mm), and these small cell bees are reputed to be more resistant to varroa mites then standard cell size (5.4mm) bees.  So consider raising these on small cell foundation, although standard will also work.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NPR Story On Recent Bee Losses

The bees we helped colonize on NPR's new green roof are featured in the audio.

Queen Rearing Essentials, Dr. Larry Connor, Day One -VIDEO

This weekend we had the pleasure of spending three days in the mountains of Virginia, in a town called Syria, to take a queen-rearing class with the noteworthy Dr. Larry Connor.

What a pleasure is was to spend a weekend with such a wise beekeeping rock stare.  And to drive him around in the convertible was a blast.  Dr. Connor has been a prolific author of books about beekeeping.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

European Commission Plans for Neonicotinoid Moratorium

A two-year moratorium on the systemic insecticides known as neonicotinoids is slated to kick in no later than Dec. 1 throughout the European Union. The decision was left up to the European Commission after member states failed to come to a qualified majority -- again -- on whether to initiate the two-year ban.

The measure would apply to the application of imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin on corn, oil seed rape (canola), apples, carrots, strawberries and other flowering crops. 

The UK, along with seven other member states, voted against the ban. Before the vote, the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport publicly opposed the proposal in a Financial Times editorial, painting an apocalyptic outcome of "a resurgence of crop diseases, reduced crop yeilds and economic damage to struggling European economies." As a science adviser, Walport made a few of his own questionable hypotheses that probably wouldn't hold up to a seventh-grade scientific method run-through. On the one hand he stressed the need for "rich ecosystems," but then also noted the need to target our "foe" insects with pesticides, while making sure to spare our "friends." Last I checked, an ecosystem was an equal opportunity employer, running on a vast interconnected network of friends and foes -- sort of like an earthy round of Kumbaya 'round the fire...right?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Spring Visit to Paris Barns

Willie (with the requisite bedhead)  and I got up early this Sunday to head out to Paris Barns in rural Virginia (Paris, Va) to spend some time with their rescue animals and check on their bees.  One of the pleasures of the DC area is that you don't have to travel very far to find working farms and a completely different lifestyle from the stresses of city life or the comfortable vehicular life of the suburbs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

NPR - Rough Winter

Had a rough winter this past season, with large numbers of bees dying?

Check out this NPR story on the suspected sources of the problem.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Making Soap....

Although it was a beautiful day outside, and having performed a couple of installations, Will and I had to switch gears and do a little chemistry making soap.  This soap is our hot process version.  We prefer the hot process because the chemical reaction takes place during the cooking, eliminating a multi-week curing process.  And because of the addition of heat it makes it easier to use fats that are hard at room temperature, specifically beeswax.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Walker Jones Adds Five New Hives

Over the last 12 months we have been training teachers from three DC schools to tend to hives and begin Junior Beekeepers clubs at each.  To kick it off, Walker Jones School, which already has three hives on their property at their urban farm, installed five hives on their green roof of the school building.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nixing Neonics

You've probably heard about them -- the ubiquitous insecticide that lurks within the plant and isn't sprayed on like traditional pesticides. Neonicotinoids, as the name suggests, are similar in composition to nicotine and cause certain neurological receptors to be over-stimulated in insects. As a result, bugs that feast on plant tissue that has absorbed the chemical soon incur neurological damage, which can cause paralysis and death. This systemic type of pesticide, which includes imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin, is applied to seeds and absorbed into the plant as it grows, creating an life-long resistance to mostly corn- and soybean-hungry insects. Throughout the European Union, they're also applied to sunflowers, oil seed rape (canola) and sugar beets.

While honeybees aren't exactly known for their green-leaf appetites, several studies have delved into the affects of neonics in plant nectar and pollen, as well as "dust dispersal" of the chemical when planting treated seeds. In fact, some studies have drawn the link between this type of systemic pesticide and Colony Collapse Disorder. The entire issue has been a point of contention for the European Union. More recently, several farmers in the U.S. have also banded together and filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, calling for stricter regulations on the use of these insecticides. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Making Bee Packages in Georgia-VIDEO

 This past week Jerry from Rock Hill Honeybee Farms and I has some extreme windshield time heading down to Patterson, GA to visit bee supplier JJ's Honey.  Jerry distributes about 600 packages nationwide by pickup or shipment, and his stock comes from JJ Honey.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Back From Visiting Don aka FatBeeMan

We picked up forty-five packages from Don on the on the 17th of March, and made many DC beekeepers have with their new small-cell bees.

Daughter Kaitlin and Don

Monday, March 18, 2013

Legalized It

Keeping step with other urban-ag-conscious cities, DC Mayor Vincent Gray recently signed a bill into effect that would formally legalize backyard beekeeping in DC. The legislation, which is part of the Sustainable DC Plan, specifically targets urban beekeeping as a means to promote urban agriculture.

Highlighting the broad initiative of sustainable "food," the plan aims to "put 20 additional acres of land under cultivation for growing food" by 2032. The legislation notes, "A stronger local food supply and distribution system will ensure that District residents have better access to healthy and affordable food from full-service grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and community and commercial agriculture projects within their neighborhoods." Where local garden and agriculture projects are taking shape, honeybees are an obvious step toward increased crop yield and easier access to nutritious food.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rooting DC Beekeepers

Jeff and I hopefully inspired some new beekeepers in DC this weekend!

At the sixth annual Rooting DC -- a forum for urban gardeners -- DC Honeybees held two workshops, packing a classroom at Woodrow Wilson High School. Organized by DC Greens, the forum pulled in around 800 participants. Our session broke down the process and pitfalls of raising honeybees in the city.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Seeing Red?

Roses are red, violets are blue…unless you’re a bee, this much is true.

While we might be used to the Roy-G-Biv acronym to remember the colors of the rainbow, for bees it’s more like oyG-Biv-UV. Bees cannot see red wavelengths, but this doesn’t necessarily prevent them from landing on red flowers. Humans perceive light base on combinations of red, green and blue, while bees base colors on green, blue and ultraviolet light. Because of this distinction, bees see flowers in an entirely different way.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Potential Next Bee Class

We are considering a bee class for the weekend of March 2 & 3, from 1-4 in Georgetown.  Please let us know if you would like to join us.  These are very fun and informative.  Plus you walk away with a hive, veil, and book.

Email me at Jeff@DCHoneybees.com if you are interested and we can firm up the date.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Getting Tagged By A Rock Star

As many of you who follow this blog know, I am a big fan of Don Kuchenmeister, the FatBeeMan from Lula, Ga.  Not only do we love what he does with his bees, but we also love that he shares his wealth of knowledge on Youtube on his channel.  In what has become an annual tradition, my daughter and I travel to his home every season to buy some of his bees to sell to a very lucky few here in the DC area.  Indeed, we are so enamored with his girls that we were able to get the Smithsonian to restock their hive in the Natural History Museum with his bees.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Commercial Migratory Pallet Design

One pallet design
Given the thin margins, hard work, and expenses associated with beekeeping, especially at a large scale, beekeeper have come up with many ingenious methods to save time and money.

While on my trip with Jerry to move his commercial hives to the orange groves of Florida, I was witness to some of these homemade ideas, some borrowed and some his own.  One of the most successful and one that has become a standard of the industry is the hive pallet.  Loading four hives (know as  four-way pallet) or six hives (a six-way pallet) on an easily movable platform provides a time and money-saving alternative to handling individual hives.  Commercial beekeepers (using a forklift) stack these pallets three-high on a flat-bed trailer to transport hives all over the country for pollination.  Best of all, the pallet when appropriately designed becomes a bottom board for the colony, eliminating that expense.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Queen Rearing Retreat in May

We're going to this.  I've met a couple of folks who attended last year who thought it was an excellent class.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Our Pollination Trip to Florida-VIDEO

A fully loaded 20' trailer.
Jerry of Rock Hill Bee Farms invited me to join him on a four-day expedition to move about 60 of his hives from a location in South Florida to the orange groves near Vero Beach.  So he loaded his Kubota tractor (with pallet forks) and a bunch of equipment and got the trip started from Northern Virginia about 500 pm on Friday, with the intent to drive straight through the night to our destination.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Capital Buzz Showing at DC Shorts-Best Of

Because this film received an award (the Pineapple) at the 2012 film festival, they are showing it again as part of a showcase on January 23rd and 24th at the U.S. Navy Memorial Heritage Center -- Burke Theater, 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC.

Here is the link for information:

Here is a link for the trailer of the film:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wanted: Interns

The Spring approaches quicker then I think in most seasons, and it is the busiest part of the year for beekeeping.  Just a few things to do:
  • Install new bees in our dead-outs;
  • Feed sugar syrup to the colonies;
  • Add pollen patties to our colonies;
  • Build, deliver new equipment and set up for clients;
  • Build nuc boxes;
  • Introduce bees to nucs;
  • Feed nucs;
  • Inspect our hives for swarm prevention;
  • Add honey supers;
  • Harvest honey.
We have about 25 hives that we manage across the region, mostly in DC but a few in the hinterlands.  Thus, an intern must have a car.  We will provide all the syrup and other materials, but we need commitment, elbow grease, and wheels.  We will provide all the training.

Please contact me at jeff@dchoneybees.com if you are interested.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Goin' Pollinatin' in Florida

As some of you may remember I have had an excellent working relationship with Jerry Mattiaccio from Rock Hill Bee Farms.  I began buying bees from Jerry in 2010 when he was focused more on nuc production, equipment, and bee sales.  Happily, I am now the recipient of a windfall as Jerry is expanding, significantly, his focus on pollination.  This past summer I got to join him in southern Virginia where he had put about 60 hives on pumpkins.