Reverie - n. a state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts; a daydream or fantasy; a visionary or impractical idea

"To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.

The revery alone will do
If bees are few." - Emily Dickinson

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Little Something for the Ladies

...if you're a wood/wax/leather/stinging insects kind of lady, which I know you are.  You're welcome.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Luscious queens and micro-colonies

My Old Sol queen arrived today, so what better time to try out our new western nucs?  The majority of my hives are all westerns, meaning I use western hive boxes for both brood and honey supers.  The problem with this system (only ONE of many according to deep fans) is that standard deep nucs are useless if we want to make splits or keep a queen on reserve. 

First I made triple-sure the queen wasn't on a frame I was taking from the existing colony.  Look at that Italian queen.  Large and slow and sexy (isn't beekeeping great?).  You wait right here, ma'am.

I pulled a few frames of solid capped brood covered with nurse bees, shook a couple frames of extra bees in for good measure, added a frame of honey and pollen, and placed the queen cage. 

The western nuc!  And just like that, one colony becomes two, and I have a premium queen on reserve if I need her. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

They're Smoking More Than Bees

Read that product description above.  So hilarious I can't stand it.  I've used a smoker many times in my hives, and I can honestly say I have never felt smog entering my alert posture.  If you have, please comment - I'd love to know how that feels.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Been Caught Stealin'...

It is a sweet day when beekeeping errors can be transformed into oral ecstasy.  Chewy, squeaky, drippy, hint-of-meadowfoam oral ecstasy.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Beeman moved his hives to a new location near the McDonald-Dunn Forest.  I have a little hive there, too.      
Today I was checking in on my virgin situation and noticed more activity than usual at the entrance to one of Beeman's hives.  His bees are usually busy on a hot day like this...

...but today they were acting weird.  Loitering, even.  And there were drones emerging, too.
Then they started pouring out of the hive like liquid, with the most incredible sound you can imagine. 
They kept coming, and COMING, AND COMING.

 Once in the air they appeared very disorganized. But be patient...

Bees have perfected the art of organized chaos.  Eventually a pattern to their movements became evident and I was able to determine which tree they had chosen. 

Maybe four or five minutes later, and the entrance is back to normal.  Minus a few thousand bees of course.  And the queen.  
They chose a tree not fifteen feet from their original hive.  Just for fun, I wanted to capture Beeman's colony and put it in my own hive. That is way too high though. 

So here they rest, clustered tightly around a branch, protecting the queen and weighing their options.  To a beekeeper swarms can be a frustration and represent a loss of hive productivity and honey-making potential. 
But in terms of the bees it is colony-level reproduction and a sort of cleansing ritual for the hive.  I have observed many swarms in flight, but I am still blown away that I was able to see this one come to life.   

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Virgin Diaries - Part I

This is what I love about beekeeping.  You never know what you're going to get when you open a hive.  In this case it was virgin queens, and lots of them. Beeman's hives are bursting at the seams, and this one seems a bit restless and unsatisfied. 

Swarm cells.  Supercedure cells.  Cells constructed and then abandoned.  Cells ripped apart by an emerging virgin queen.  Cells intact housing a virgin queen.  This hive doesn't discriminate. 

I removed a cell and opened it up out of curiosity.  There is the live queen, sitting in waxy darkness waiting to learn her fate.  She is small and unmated, with a slender abdomen not yet ready for egg-laying, and she's all mine. 

Into a queen cage she goes until we decide where to put her.  Imagine being suspended in a cage, in darkness, with thousands of others clamoring for your release, when you'll either be accepted as the future of the hive or killed on the spot.  What a game of chance.

This is the swarmy virgin-factory.  This hive is literally spilling over with bees.  Dripping, buzzing, crowded, restless bees.

I caught another live one just hatching.  In the cage you go. 

Sidenote:  to the beekeeper go the spoils.  Always reserve a taste for yourself.

Another nice queen cell.  Let's open it and collect another. 

By this time the hive has been open for a while. 

We ran out of queen cages, so for now they'll live in these jars.  When I dream of my perfect bedroom, there is an observation hive in the wall above my bed, and jars like these on shelves. 

That dark beauty is a definite keeper.  In fact, I may take her with me and make a split from my hive at home.  A virgin queen is a gamble - she has to make it out on a mating flight and then back again, but experimentation and a bit of uncertainty are the spark of beekeeping for me.

Beeman has incredible colonies.  The swarmy virgin-factory is one of his.

In all, we gathered six new queens from that hive that were healthy and strong enough to save.  Two are going with me, and four are co-habiting this nuc for the time being (two in cages and two unhatched cells).

Monday, April 22, 2013


The bees have woken up for the season, and so has my blog. 

Everything I love about beekeeping is in this photo right here. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Somewhere, Bees Are Flying...

On this cloudy, drizzly Oregon day it feels appropriate to post some pictures of bees flying in the sunshine, gathering nectar and pollen from exotic sources.  My bees are clustered inside their hive, thinking how tired of they are of pollen patties and dampness.  I won't show them these pictures. 
Above, a bee pollinating a large banana flower.
 Seductive orange blossoms...

  A large black sweat bee on Rosemary....

 Sabal palmetto inflorescences.  Palmetto honey is exquisite - sweet and spicy.

Roses blooming - in early March. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fast Forward

I admit it. I'm a Florida girl. And this week I am back home visiting family and friends on the first solo trip I have taken in over seven years.  Although I love everything about Oregon and have no plans to leave, my heart is still in Florida. 

Yesterday I was in Gainesville - home of the Gators and place where three generations of my family have gone to school.  And of course I went bee-hunting.  I found some on the edge of the prairie...

These bees are are too busy flying over fields of flowering brassicas and strawberries to care about their comrades in Oregon, still clustered tight in their brood boxes waiting for spring.  The weather here is warm and sunny and feels like a summer day by Pacific Northwest standards.  

The hives are simpler too.  There are no screened bottom boards, ventilated inner covers, telescoping tops and massive feeders like you need in a cool, wet climate.  

Soon this southern girl will travel back to Oregon with my bag full of honey from palmetto, gallberry, and tupelo, and work to get my bees ready for spring. But I'll leave my heart here in Florida.

Live oak hammock

Go Gators!

Pine flatwoods

Old homestead oranges

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Deep Breath....Now Jump!

I want to be a beekeeper. 

Not just on weekends, but every day.  So here I go.  Introducing Nectar Bee Supply.

I am lucky to have the most amazing business partners (co-conspirators?) a girl could ever dream about in Karessa Torgerson and Melanie Sorenson.  I still can't believe the events that have unfolded to bring us to this point.
There is a strong beekeeping community in Corvallis that includes lots of seasoned pros and even more beginners eager to get started.  So many people in our area have talents related to beekeeping - whether they raise queens, construct ventilation boards in their garage, grow bee-friendly plants for seed, or bottle artisan honey.  We want to connect all of these people and serve as a clearinghouse for that community.

The hard part is trying to balance unlimited ideas with very limited resources. We don't want to be a discount beekeeping store. We want everything we sell to be useful, durable, and beautiful. 

Beekeeping equipment?  Definitely.  Classes and events?  Absolutely.  Native pollinators?  We like them too.  Hive hosting, a honey CSA, a community honey house, our own store...Just wait.

Keep your eyes on us, we have big ideas.  Now if you'll excuse me I have to get to work.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Death in the Afternoon

The green hive on the right was the star this year, at one point supporting THREE active honey supers.  And now it is dead. 
The sunny scene and busy bees distracted me from noticing what was really going on.  See those emerging bees?  They are all dead.  And the worst part?  Every single capped brood cell in this photo contains a dead bee.  This is a hive with no future.

There is a window during the late summer season when mite populations can explode in the hive.  I was busy with other events in my life and didn't take care of the bees as I should, and they paid the price for my negligence.  Lesson learned the hard way.

These are bees I pulled from brood cells for closer inspection.  The culprit is Deformed Wing Virus, a disease transmitted by Varroa mites.

Here is a young bee exhibiting the classic symptoms of the disease - distorted, twisted wings.  Compare them to the bee on the left.

What a sad realization.  Do you see the queen?  She is presiding over a hive with a death sentence.  At this time of year, the bees developing within brood cells are the ones that will see the hive through the winter. There is no new generation of bees to sustain this colony.  

To make matters worse, this was also the time of year that yellowjackets were at their most vicious, tearing into colonies and killing bees. A weakened hive struggling with disease is an easy mark.
Once I determined that this hive would not survive, I took off the honey super that was supposed to be their reserve for the winter and reduced the colony down to only two brood boxes. 

A few days later I opened the hive to silence.  Thousands of bees gone in a matter of days, and frame after frame of dead capped brood. Not a single bee, except this one. The queen was the sole survivor!  With no attendants, she was struggling to stay alive.