Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beekeeping 101


     There are many great, free sources of information available for the beginner beekeeper.  This is a selection of powerpoint presentations, videos and books which will provide you with the tools needed to begin beekeeping.  To begin I strongly recommend the online powerpoint presentation Beeology 101 by Dr. James Tew of Ohio State University which explains the anatomy of the honey bee.  You should then watch Beekeeping 101 (Dr. Tew) to get an introduction to the practice of beekeeping. This will provide you with the introductory skills required to start beekeeping.  A Web-Based Introductory Beekeeping Training Program (Beekeeping Training Program) from the Ohio State Beekeepers Association (Presenters John Grafton & Jim Tew) is a great step-by-step beginners resource.   A good follow up to this introduction would be Hive Health Diagnostics by Barbara Bloetscher of O.S.U.  Although there are many great books for the beginning beekeeper I recommend Backyard Beekeeping by Dr. James E. Tew, Basic Beekeeping by Penn State and At the Hive Entrance by H. Storch.  A free online course from the University of California, "Honey Bees and Colony Strength Evaluation" is useful for all beekeepers from the beginner to the professional. The course consists of individual modules that provide background information on honey bees as well as clear, consistent recommendations for apiary inspection.  The modular approach requires short blocks of time for each section and the viewer can proceed at their own pace viewing modules in any order they wish.  Modules covering basic information may not be necessary for more experienced beekeepers or apiary inspectors. However, for those less familiar with the process, training modules can be re-visited as necessary. To take the course log in as a guest here.  While it is possible to start beekeeping without any lessons it's suggested that you take a beekeeping course to learn the basics so that you are prepared for the challenges that will inevitably arise when tending to livestock.  Once you have completed this the most important aspect of your learning experience will be to find a local beekeeper or beekeeping organization that will share their experiences with you.  There are beekeeping organizations almost everywhere and something I have found is that beekeepers throughout the world are usually helpful and willing to share their love and knowledge of bees.  Although I have never taken a beekeeping lesson I cannot consider myself self taught as I have had the luxury of good beekeeper friends who have allowed me to observe and answered my endless questions with commendable patience. 
     A wonderful aspect of beekeeping is that there is always something new to learn.  For more information on bees and beekeeping go to the Beekeepers' Library.  

"There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Who Killed the Honey Bee?




     A BBC documentary which explores the possible reasons for the global bee crisis.  One third of the world's bee population is dying each year.  This unsustainable death rate will have devastating effects on our worldwide agriculture industry and food supply.  The bee is our canary in the coal mine and the coal mine is planet earth.  The bee crisis is a clear indication of the toxic environment we have created.  Scientists studying bees have found traces of 20-30 different types of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides in a single bee (Insecticides and Bees).  It's time for us to wake up and smell the roses and stop spraying them with toxic chemicals.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beekeeping still illegal in Maple Ridge

Scary Bee

     In a few weeks Maple Ridge (Vancouver suburb) City council will be considering allowing it's residents to legally keep bees.  One of the city councillors, Mike Mordon is against the keeping of bees in urban areas because of the fear and liability of bee stings. Forgive me if I find this laughable (in a sad way) but don't these politicians have any access to the approximately 1 million studies that have been done by cities throughout the world over the last 20 years on the safety of beekeeping. Long kept records in Vancouver show minimal bee related complaints with most stemming from bees drinking at public water sources (easily remedied by responsible beekeepers providing their own hive water source). It seems that every city goes through the same lengthy process like Bethel in Port Washington, Wisconsin (Legalizing beekeeping) who recently won a long battle with the city council to legalize beekeeping. Vancouver legalized beekeeping in 2006 and New York City in 2010.  Lets hope Maple Ridge will take an enlightened view on the benefits of bees in our urban areas.
     This is a video of a few nefarious, criminal Brooklyn beekeepers filmed in 2009, one year before the legalization of beekeeping in New York.

Brooklyn's Urban Beekeepers: Breaking The Law For The Planet (Part I) from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.


P.S. A friend from Maple Ridge says when the nearby town of Pit Meadows is mentioned people are known to turn their head and spit in disgust (like when Wollerton is mentioned to Dog River folks in Corner Gas).  Heh Maple Ridge, Pit Meadows recently legalized beekeeping.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bees and Pollen


     Bees feed on nectar which is a carbohydrate and provides them with an energy source and is the sugar source for honey.  Pollen is collected by bees as a source of protein and other nutrients and is fed to their brood.  At this time of year the main pollen source for us in Vancouver is plum blossoms but this will soon be replaced by other seasonal favorites.  The source of pollen will depend on the vegetation in your neighborhood and pollen analysis of honey often leads to surprising results. Testing honey from the White House bee hives (Honey Bees at the White House) revealed the primary source as clover and secondary sources being dogwood, cherry, crepe myrtle, elm, magnolia, honeysuckle and even poison ivy. I have found in our garden that the seasonal favorites are plum (March-April), raspberry (June), black locust trees (July), Himalayan blackberries (August) and Asian Asters (September). In Vancouver the Himalayan blackberries are very good and plentiful but also very invasive as their seeds are dispersed in the excrement of birds that eat the berries.
     Below is a graph from Wikipedia showing plants and their approximate blooming period.  Most of the plants shown can be found in Vancouver (plant hardiness zone 8) and are hardy to USDA growing zone 5.  The list is fairly good but a few additions I would make are that Black Locust trees which are invasive and planted to break up clay soil are a very good pollen source; bees are attracted to flowers of the onion family like chives, onions, leeks and garlic; other favourites are alyssum, clover, borage and particularly the late summer aster.  For a more complete list of food source plants for bees go to the Bee Plants pages of this website.




Trees and shrubs - Spring
Common name
Latin name
Blooming months
Pollen color
Availability
Source for honeybees
Acer spp.
Feb - Apr
light yellow
feral
fair
Manitoba Maple(Box elder)
Acer negundo
Feb - Apr
light olive
feral
good
Acer platanoides
Apr - May
yellow green, olive
feral
fair
Acer rubrum
Mar - Apr
grey brown
feral

Alnus incana
Feb - Apr
brownish yellow
feral

Castanea dentata
May - Jun

mostly ornamental

Castanea sativa
May

feral
good
Celtis occidentalis
Apr - May

feral

Chaenomeles japonicaChaenomeles lagenariaChaenomeles speciosa 'Nivalis'Chaenomeles x superba
Apr - May

feral
good
Corylus americana
Mar - Apr
light green
feral and ornamental
fair/good
Crataegus spp.
Apr - May
yellow brown
feral
fair
Fraxinus americana
Apr - May



Gleditsia triancanthos
May - Jun

feral

Ilex opaca
Apr - Jun

feral

Juglans spp.
Apr - May

cultivated
fair
Lirodendron tulipifera
May - Jun
cream
feral and ornamental
good
Malus spp.
Mar - Jun
light olive
ornamental

Malus domestica, Malus sylvestris
Apr - May
yellow white
cultivated and ornamental
very good
Platanus occidentalis
Apr - May
light olive
feral

Prunus spp.
Apr - May
light grey, grey
ornamental and cultivated

Prunus amygdalus
Feb
light brown to brown pollen - not considered a good pollen source but bees are the primary pollinator
cultivated mostly in California
fair
Prunus avium
Apr - May
yellow brown, light brown
feral
very good
Prunus cerasifera

light brown to brown
feral
fair
Prunus cerasus
Apr - May
dark yellow
ornamental and cultivated
very good
Prunus persica
Apr - May
reddish yellow
ornamental and cultivated
good
Prunus serotina
Apr - May

feral
minor
Prunus spinosa


feral
good
Pyrus communis
Apr - May
red yellow
ornamental and cultivated
good
Quercus spp.
May

feral

Quercus roburQuercus pedunculata
May
light olive
feral
minor
Robinia pseudoacacia
May - Jun

feral

Rubus spp.
May - Jun
light grey
feral and cultivated

Rubus idaeus
May - Jun
white grey
feral and cultivated
good
Salix spp.
Feb - Apr
lemon
feral
good
Salix alba


feral
good
Salix caprea
Mar - Apr

feral
very good
Salix daphnoides
Mar - Apr

feral
very good
Salix discolor
Mar - Apr

feral and ornamental

Salix purpurea
Mar - Apr

feral
very good
Salix x smithiana
Apr - May


very good
Sorbus americana
May-Jun

feral

Ulmus americana
Feb - Apr
light grey
feral

Winged Elm
Ulmus alata
Feb - Mar
pale yellow
feral
good
Ulmus americana


feral
good

Flowers and annual crop plants - Spring
Common name
Latin name
Blooming months
Pollen color
Availability
Source for honeybees
Ajuga (Bronze Bugle, Common Bugle)
Ajuga reptans
mid spring



Allium schoenoprasum
May - Sep

cultivated?

Asparagus officinalis
May - Jun
bright orange
cultivated

Brassica arvenisi
Apr - May
lemon
cultivated and feral

Brassica napus
May - Jun
lemon
extensively cultivated
very good
Crocus vernus (syn. Crocus aureus)
April
orange yellow
feral and ornamental
fair
Doronicum cordatum
Apr - May



Eranthis hyemalis
Mar - Apr
yellow
feral and ornamental
good
Galanthus nivalis
Mar - Apr
orange, red

fair
Lamium amplexicaule
April
orange red, red, purplish red
Apr - Jul
poor
Melilotus alba
May - Aug
yellow to dark yellow
feral and cultivated
good
Melilotus officinalis
May - Aug
yellow to dark yellow
feral and cultivated

Onobrychis viciifolia
May - Jul
yellow brown

very good
Scilla sibirica
Mar - Apr
steel blue
feral and ornamental
good
Sinapis alba
June
lemon
feral and cultivated
good
Stellaria media
Apr - Jul
yellowish
feral
minor
Taraxacum officinale
Apr - May
red yellow, orange
feral
very good

Summer
Trees and shrubs - Summer
Common name
Latin name
Blooming months
Pollen color
Availability
Source for honeybees
Aesculus carnea

raisin [3]
feral

Aesculus hippocastanum
May - Jun after 80-110 growing degree days.
anatolia [3]
feral
good
Catalpa bignonioides
Jun - Jul

ornamental
fair
Catalpa speciosa
Jun - Jul

ornamental

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue'
Aug - Sep


very good
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Jul - Aug


good
Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Veitchii'
Jun - Jul


good
Rhus glabra
Jun - Jul



Sambucus canadensis
Jun - Jul
canary yellow [3]


Basswood or American Linden
Tilia americana
Jun - Jul
yellow to light orange
feral and ornamental

Little Leaf Linden
Tilia cordata

citrine [3]
feral

VaccĂ­nium myrtĂ­llus
Jun
red yellow, orange
cultivated
poor

Flowers and annual crop plants - Summer
Common name
Latin name
Blooming months
Pollen color
Availability
Source for honeybees
Allium spp.


feral and cultivated

Allium cepa

light olive
cultivated

Allium schoenoprasum
May - Sep

feral and cultivated

Allium tuberosa
Aug - Sep

feral and cultivated

Amorpha fruticosa
Jun - Jul

ornamental?

Aster spp.
Sep-Frost
reddish yellow
feral and ornamental

Land-in-blue, Bushy Aster
Aster x dumosus
Aug - Sep
bronze yellow [3]
feral

Borago officinalis
Jun - Frost
blueish grey
ornamental

Calendula officinalis
Jun - Sep
orange


Heather sp.
Calluna vulgaris
Jul - Aug
yellow white, white

good
Cannabis sativa
Aug
yellow green

good source
Carduus spp.




Centaurea spp.
Jul - Sep



Persian centaurea
Centaurea dealbata

hemp [3]


Centaurea macrocephala
Jul - Aug


good
Centaurea nigra

very light olive


Cichorium intybus L.

white


Cotoneaster spp.



good
Cucumis spp.

pale yellow
cultivated

Cucumis melo
Jun-Frost
pale yellow
cultivated

Cucurbita pepo
Jun-Frost
bright yellow
cultivated

Epilobium angustifolium
Jul - Aug
blue
feral

Joe-Pye weed, Bluestem
Eutrochium spp.; Eupatorium purpureum
Aug - Sep
bistre green


Fagopyrum esculentum
Jul - Aug
light yellow to light green
cultivated
good source
Gonolobus laevis syn. Cynanchum laeve




Helianthus annuus
Jun - Sep
golden
feral and cultivated

Impatients capensis

yellowish white


Lobularia maritima
Jun - Sep



Lupinus sp.
Jun - Jul
white, yellow or blue

minor
Malva alcea
Jun - Sep



Medicago sativa
July - Aug
khaki [3]
feral and cultivated

Melilotus spp. and Trifolium spp.
May - Aug

feral and cultivated

Melilotus alba

auburn [3]
feral and cultivated

Melilotus officinalis

auburn [3]
feral and cultivated

Ocimum basilicum


ornamental

Papaver orientale
May - Jul
blueish grey
ornamental only
good source [4]
Poppy
Papaver somniverum
May - Jun
grey
feral and ornamental
very good source
Phacelia tanacetifolia
Jun - Sep
navy blue
feral and cultivated
good source
Polygonum spp.
Aug - Sep



Stellaria media
Apr - Jul


minor source
Teucrium chamaedrys
Jul - Aug



Trifolium hybridum

yellow brown

good source
Trifolium incarnatum

dark brown


Trifolium repens
Jun - Jul
caledonian brown

good source
Typha latifolia
Jun - Jul



Vicia cracca
Jul - Aug



Vicia sativa
Jul - Aug



Zea mays
Jun - Jul
yellowish white
cultivated


Fall
Trees and shrubs - Fall
Common name
Latin name
Blooming months
Pollen color
Availability
Source for honeybees
Chinese Elm, Lacebark Elm
Ulmus parvifolia
Aug - Sep

ornamental
good
Flowers and annual crop plants - Fall
Common name
Latin name
Blooming months
Pollen color
Availability
Source for honeybees
Aster spp.
Sep-Frost
reddish yellow


Borago officinalis
Jun - Frost



Cucumis melo
Jun-Frost

cultivated

Clematis ternifolia
late Sept
white
ornamental

Cucurbita pepo
Jun-Frost
bright yellow
cultivated

Hedera spp.
Sep - Oct
dull yellow or black?
ornamental (not native to America)

Solidago spp.
Sep - Oct
golden
feral



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