Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Year 7 Begins

Hi all --

When I first began beekeeping in 2005, there was almost nothing online and I was a lovable eccentric. Now you can find a Youtube category for any beekeeping activity about which you have a question, and this is just one of hundreds of accounts of beginning, ongoing, natural, scientific, urban, suburban, rural -- you name it -- beekeeping out there. SO I was not sure what to say.

Also, it was really stoopid of me to let my real place, name, face get associated with this blog, because when I get frustrated or do something completely dumb, I'm no longer in a safe corner, able to discuss it without hurting feelings or scaring the neighbors.

Finally, last year was pretty terrible. I lost 40% of my bees, 8 out of 19 colonies, only 2 for reasons I could figure out. I've gotten myself committed to all sorts of activities that are kinda-sorta about beekeeping, but not actually in the field or in the library learning more.

But Spring is coming again, and once again hope. We have more volunteers downtown these days, and more people have been peeking under the hive cover and sliding in some fondant, even as I get wrapped around the axle of arranging speakers for meetings and debating club policies.

And I have finally shouted out for a Downtown DC Beekeeper Meetup (Friday, February 24 7:00 PM Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol Street, Capitol South or Eastern Market Metro) and was thinking that, depending on who and how many show up, there might be some insight into what I could be saying or doing here.

Please come if you are nearby and have the time, all are welcome. We are just planning on introducing ourselves and comparing notes right now.


Anonymous said...

I plan on being there though I am just a new DC resident interested in bees and how I can get involved within the city.


Anonymous said...

Hi Phang

Seven years. Seems like yesterday! It's interesting how one's interest and focus in the bees can change through time.

I know how you feel about working bees on the net. I've not had much new to say for awhile myself.

But I still stop by from time to time to see what you're up to. Sometimes keeping bees is more about people than the bees.

Good to hear from you again.

Dennis Murrell

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blogs. We also care about our environment, please read about "Bees, and Survival of the Human Race" in our blog at www.greendustriesblog.com.


Anonymous said...

Do you have suggestions about safe removal of underground bees? I don't want to call an exterminator but the bees are upset when my kids go out to get veggies from our garden.

Phang said...

About the "ground bees" -- there are 2,000 kinds of bees in North America, so I am doing some guessing here, and calling them mining bees. There is more information on mining bees at http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/miningbees.html

The extra warm winter and months that have followed have created an unusually fertile reproductive season for many insects, including (probably) native bees like the ones in your yard. They are extremely unlikely to sting: these bees are actually used in classrooms for that reason.
They burrow as deep as 18 inches into to the ground to lay eggs for a few weeks, and then go dormant for the year. It is impractical to attempt to use poison on hundreds if not thousands of holes, and to soak your yard in this way would probably be bad for you as well as the environment. Some folks roto-till the affected ares. but I advise waiting them out.
They can make a lawn look just terrible, and I am sorry for the kids being scared.
Another more severe winter will definitely bring their numbers back into a more normal population, something that was probably always present but not really noticed.

Honeybees are actually not native, at least anymore -- fossils of a native honeybee have been found here, but it looks like she did not survive and ice age.