About Project Bees

We want to promote beekeeping and increase bee awareness.

Spend some time on our website, learn some interesting facts about bees, discover educational opportunities and resources, and visit and comment on our blog.

Welcome to Our Store! Proceeds from sale of our products helps fund urban beekeeper "startups" - Ask us how!

Resources

Organizations / Clubs

There are  many clubs and organizations that offer information and classes on bees and beekeeping.  We have listed a few here to get you started. 

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Bee Facts

The more you learn about bees, the more interested you will become!  Here are some interesting facts about bees to inform you.

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References

Want to learn more? Here are some references you might want to check out. There are also some books targeting younger audiences!

Becoming a Master Beekeeper requires considerable knowledge and experience.  Read how you can accomplish this…

 Classroom

A great teacher introduces their students to stimulating and engaging lessons which are pivotal to a students’ future success. Exposing students to current events such as the science and status of bees and their importance to our survival, could spark their interest in important environmental and  social issues.

Please Contact Us with Questions, Comments.

We would love to hear from you and  answer any questions you have.  Anything you can share that might be of interest to like-minded people and those interested in learning more about beekeeping, please let us know.  We can post new content quickly and easily.

Project Bees Blog

What is a NUC?

‘Nucs’ or nucleus colonies are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. The name is derived from the fact that a nuc hive is centered on a queen – the nucleus of the honey bee colony. A five frame nuc consists of a “laying” queen that has already been accepted by the hive.  The three inner frames contain brood in all stages and the two outer frames contain honey, pollen, and adhering bees.  For the last two years I’ve installed packages of bees rather than nuc hives. The packages consist of approximately 6,000 bees or 3 lbs. of bees and a mated queen – that’s it. As opposed to a nuc, the package of bees after install, start their colony from scratch.  Feeding is crucial and needs to be done frequently.  Personally, I prefer the install process – unplugging the queen cage and shaking the bees into the hive. A bit of an adrenaline rush.  But…after installing the nuc today, I must admit it’s somewhat reassuring to see the colony fully functional immediately.

Planting the Right Garden for Pollinators

For bees, their forage or food supply consists of nectar and pollen from blooming plants within flight range (2 – 3 mile radius).  The source for nectar and pollen differ with the region, season, and vegetation.  So, before you begin to plant…..check out the seed mix for your region. To search for the seed mix that is suitable for planning in your area, the Xerces Society (Center for Invertebrate Conservation) provides this information. Please visit ‘Pollinator Conservation Resource Center’ to browse the list of regions and recommended pollination plants.

NOTE: BEE FRIENDLY GARDENS ARE FREE OF CHEMICALS.

Here is a list of my favorite gardening books that focus to the needs of pollinators.

1 – 100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to help Pollinators Thrive.  The Xerces Society

2 – Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies, and other Pollinators.  Rhonda Fleming Hayes

3 – 101 Organic Gardening Hacks: Eco-Friendly Solutions to Improve any Garden.  Shawna Coronado

4 – Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Garden.  Heather N. Holm

5 – Companion Plants for the Kitchen Gardener: Tips, Advice, and Garden Plans for a Healthy Organic Garden.  Allison Greer

6 – The Cocktail Hour Gardener: Creating Landscapes for Relaxation and Entertaining.  C. L. Fornari

7 – Hope for the Honey Bee: How to Grow a Year-Round Bee Garden in Ten Easy Steps.  Catherine Ann Garvin

Project Bees – Hive Construction Underway

March 2017

Project Bees is preparing hives to distribute before the 3 lb boxes of bees (approx. 6,000 to 10,000 per box) are picked up from Dadant in Chatham Virginia on April 17th . Dadant Beekeeping and Honey Bees has been in business since 1863 and the family business continues to provide keepers like myself with heathy Italian honey bees (Apis mellifera ligustica) from a certified commercial operation in Georgia.

This season Project Bees’ hives will be located in various settings ; rooftop, backyard, and on a farm. It should be interesting to track the success of each hive, including, honey production, pollen, nectar intake, queen and brood, frames and comb and the basic health of each colony.

Things to think about – Bees’ Rules:

1 – Bees should be adapted to your location.

2 – Bees should be selected to your management style and technique.

3 – Bees should be resistant to pests and disease – treat your hive.

4 – Bees should have enough room for brood

5 – Manage swarming – know what to look for before it happens.

6 – Make sure there is enough food and water at all times.

7 – Keep excellent records.

8 – Isolate bees from other bees to avoid robbing.

9 – Seek continuing education and educate yourself on safety.

10 – Have an EpiPen on hand for emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.

 

Happy Beekeeping!!!

Honeybee Democracy

February 2017

Elizabeth Hill, economist/beekeeper, gave a presentation at the Beekeeping Certification course ( through the College of Agriculture and Sustainability and Environmental Science at UDC) on The Biology of Honeybees and Colonies: Queen, Worker, Drone/Life Stages, Activities. Ms. Hill suggested a must read book, Honeybee Democracy, by Thomas Seeley.

I purchased the book and found the entire read to be extremely interesting as well as the fact that Thomas Seeley is a biology professor at Cornell and a beekeeper in Ithaca – very close to my home town in upstate NY.

Mr. Seeley’s research reveals the amazing discovery – honeybees make decisions collectively and democratically. He describes how bees evaluate potential nest sites, share their discovery with the colony, engage in open deliberation, choose a final site, and navigate together to their new home.

Just as the ‘waggle dance’ instructs the hive where to find a food source, Seeley continued the studies begun by earlier theorist, that the bees also do dance-like movements when looking for a nesting site (usually post swarm). Instead of dancing within the colony to communicate direction of food to the foragers, the bees looking for a nesting spot do a dance on the backs of the bees in a nature formed colony. The process involves decision making much like a group of individuals do when making decisions.

It’s a fascinating read about very remarkable insects.

2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow

2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow 

January 10-14, 2017 

San Luis Resort Properties and the Galveston Island Convention Center

Galveston, Texas

THE PRE-REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS THIS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16.

Be sure to register now to take advantage of the discounted rate and ensure your place at the conference.

During the 2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow, you’ll have the opportunity to hear two fantastic keynote presentations:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

9:15 AM – 10:05 AM

Beyond the Bees: Why “Solving the Bee Problem” Isn’t Going to Work

Dr. Jonathan Lundgren

Recent declines in pollinators are symptomatic of widespread simplification of the landscape. Siloing solutions toward individual stressors on the bees will likely result in ongoing bee declines. Large scale reformations to our food production system are necessary to solve the bee problem, and will accompany numerous other societal benefits. Despite resistance from the current agricultural infrastructure, innovative farmers are proving that systems that promote soil health and biodiversity conservation are profitable and represent a healthy alternative to input-intensive agriculture.


Friday, January 13, 2017

1:50 PM – 2:40 PM

Is Secondhand Smoke Killing Bees?

Dr. Jeff Pettis

Many factors are involved in the loss of honey bee colonies in recent years. The list includes the “four Ps”: poor nutrition, parasites and pests, pathogens and pesticides. Of these, the role of pesticides remains controversial in that studies were often criticized for being lab based or for not using field-relevant doses. Recent papers published in Science and Nature leave no doubt that pesticides are harming solitary and bumble bees and must be having effects on honey bees as well. However, the chemical companies continue to use their professional public relation machines to downplay findings, cast doubt on researchers and put pressure on government bodies to maintain the status quo. These same tactics were used successfully by the tobacco industry for many years to cast doubt on the link between smoking and cancer. So, is secondhand smoke killing bees? We need all parties at the table acting in good faith to solve the problems of pollinator decline. Industry needs to stop blowing smoke and work to limit unwarranted prophylactic use of pesticides and help return to a more Integrated Pest Management approach for farming. The bees will thank us.

 

Reasons to Keep Bees

There are many reasons to keep bees. Here are the main reasons people keep them:

Honey Production – Honey is the human race’s oldest sweet. A new keeper should NOT expect to harvest any substantial honey until at least the colony’s second or third year. Leave it all for the bees to survive. Honey is like money in their bank. A full size colony needs about 27 kg (60 lb) of easily accessible ripened honey to get through the winter.

Beeswax, Mead And Hive Products – Honey to produce mead (honey wine) enables one to control the entire mead-making process.

Beeswax is the only natural wax produced by bees. This does not interrupt pollination, honey production, or colony success, rather it’s a natural product only bees can produce.

Pollination – Bees are the key to ensure that fruit, berry, vine and seed crops are well pollinated. Honey bees are often the easiest pollinator to provide in large numbers.

Sell Bees (Packages, Nuclei and Queens) – Beekeeping companies profit from the sale of packaged bees, nucleus hives, and queen bees.

The focus of Project Bees is POLLINATION. Imagine living in a world without flowers or fruit or even coffee or chocolate for that matter. Thanks to the wonderful work of pollinators like bees, much of the food we eat and flowers and plants we enjoy are possible. Project Bees purpose is to launch beekeepers with a focus to increase pollinators.

FYI- it’s not just bees that are doing all the work. butterflies, birds, beetles, bats, hummingbirds wasps and even flies are important in the pollination process. But despite the importance of pollinators, they are taken for granted all too often. Worldwide, there is an alarming decline in pollinator populations. Excessive use of pesticides and an ever-expanding conversion of landscapes to human use are the biggest culprits.

Robbing: Q&A

What is robbing?

Robbing is a term used to describe honey bees that are invading another hive and stealing the stored honey. The robbing bees rip open capped cells, fill their honey stomachs, and ferry the goods back home. They will fight the resident bees to get to the stores and many bees may die in the process.

When does robbing occur?

Robbing can occur anytime during the year, but it is most evident in the late summer or early fall, especially during a nectar dearth. Robbing can often be seen in the early spring as well, most frequently before the first major honey flow.

Why does robbing occur?

Honey bees are compulsive hoarders. They will collect nectar or honey from any source they can find, and that includes a poorly guarded or weak hive. Personally, I think “looting” is a better description because, like human looters, they tend to prey on the weak and vulnerable, especially a hive with a problem.

Think of it like this: It is a hot August afternoon. It hasn’t rained in weeks. The flowers are long past their peak and the few that remain are crispy. A gang of bored workers with too much time and not enough to do is hanging out, looking for trouble. Suddenly, one of the gang picks up on a scent . . . sweet! It’s coming from a nearby hive where the beekeeper has spilled some syrup. A few scouts check it out and believe they can overpower the lethargic guard bees lounging in the heat. Within minutes the dancers post directions on CombBook and the siege is on.

How can I recognize robbing?

Sometimes a weak hive will suddenly come to life. You, a new beekeeper, are ecstatic because a hive you thought was dying is now thrumming with activity—bees are everywhere. You think the colony has finally turned itself around. But when you go back the next day, no one is home. The honey frames have been stripped clean, bees lie dead on the ground, and the small colony is decimated.

At other times, the signs are more subtle:

  • Fighting bees tumble and roll—sometimes on the landing board, sometimes in the air.
  • Dead bees lie on the landing board or on the ground in front of the hive.
  • Robbing bees can often be seen examining all the cracks and seams in a hive, even at the back and sides.
  • Robbing bees are often accompanied by wasps that are attracted to the dead bees as well as the honey.
  • Some of the bees in the fray may appear shiny and black. This appearance is created when the bees lose their hair while fighting. Both attackers and defenders may have this appearance.
  • Robbing bees never carry pollen on their legs.
  • Robbing bees often sway from side to side like wasps, waiting for an opportunity to enter the target hive.
  • Pieces of wax comb may appear on the landing board as the robbers rip open new cells.
  • Robbing bees are louder than normal bees.
  • Because robbing bees are loaded down with honey when they leave the target hive, they often crawl up the wall before they fly away and then dip toward the ground as they take off. This may not be immediately obvious, but if you study them for a while, you can see it.

Why do bees buzzzzzzzz?

why-do-bees-buzz

The familiar buzz of a bumble bee is one of those summer sounds that is easy to take for granted. But for the bees, buzzing has a purpose. They may buzz during courtship, or out of alarm if they are caught or trapped. Another reason is to collect pollen.

Some flowering plants hide their pollen in structures called anthers, and to get it, bumble bees (and other bees) bite the anthers and then hang on and buzz until the vibration causes the anther to spill out particles of pollen.

The process is called sonication, or buzz pollination.  Studies support this behavior to be innate rather than learned.  This seems to come naturally to the bees.

■ Grab on to anther with mandibles.

■ Buzz until doused with pollen.

■ Groom pollen off front legs and other parts of body and stick onto pollen baskets on rear legs.

So next time you hear a bee buzz….

 

BEE Active – Plant Seeds. Save Bees

We NEED honey bees. After all, they’re responsible for pollinating one -third of our natural foods.

Bee -friendly flowers provide food (nectar) that keeps honey bees alive and pollen that helps fruits and vegetables to grow. So, create a honey bee spa in a pot on your window sill, a honey bee garden in your backyard, or honey bee sanctuary in a neighborhood park. You don’t need a lot of space; just a lot of  LOVE!

Honey BEE Gardening Tips

-Choose flowers that produce nectar and pollen, such as: Sunflowers, Daisies, Cosmos, Zinnias, Dahlias, Asters, Marigolds, Hyacinths, Hollyhocks, Crocuses, Foxglove and Geraniums.   Also White Boltonia, Jupiters Beard , Zagreb Tickseed, Catmint, Shasta Daisy, Michaelmas Daisy, Siberian Iris, Snowdrop, Blue Jacket Hyacinth, Lily-Flowered Tulip and Fortissimo Daffodil.

-Select an assortment of flowers that bloom successively over the spring, summer, and fall in order to provide food through all seasons.

-Pick blue, purple, orange and yellow flowers – these are most attractive to bees.

-Do not use pesticides!

FINALLY… the bees have arrived!

Mission accomplished - bees transferedApril 2 Saturday – My Bees arrived at Greenstreet Nursery in Lothian MD via Azure B LLC all the way from Tennessee. A 3 lb box containing up to 8,000 hungry tired bees.

Azure demonstrated a hive installation as all beekeepers, seasoned and novice, observed…. unprotected; in fact, no one wore any protective gear.

Stefano was stung once on the hand.  I too was stung reaching in my pocket unaware it was occupied…. I was happy that I had no reaction.

Stefano - Bees on hand

We placed the bees in the back of our wagon with a few stragglers outside the box taking flight in the car as we drove away.

FOOD – This was an area that made me nervous…a lot of differing sugar: water ratio recipes out there. Not feeling comfortable feeding bees white sugar when I try to avoid it myself. I had to have something when they arrived so I mixed a concoction the night before and placed it in the hive.

On the way back to DC the food issue continued to haunt me. After talking to some seasoned beekeepers regarding what they feed, we decided to try what they call ‘pollen patties’. It’s a patty, a small pancake, which consists of a raw honey and fresh pollen mixture.

I have 2 roof top hives, a Top Bar hive and the more traditional looking Langstroth. This box of bees went in the Top Bar.

INSTALLATION – Unfortunately, I lost a few under my shoe but the rest made it.

Chris removing can from packageSetting up Top Comb hive on roof - transfering bees

Now it’s all about keeping the buzz!

April 5 Tuesday – Hive check. All looks good. The queen appears to be released though I did not see her. The bees have already begun creating comb. So far so good…. but I know anything may happen. Here today, gone tomorrow!