Topbar Beekeeping

I'm an urban topbar beekeeper in Albuquerque, NM. I manage hives in backyards and small organic farms within city limits. These hives are probably pollinating your veggie patches right now. Visit my website at:


Buzz Planking

I'm planking on the beehives in my backyard (aka laying flat like a plank). Here's where you can find photos of other people doing it to prove that I'm not totally bonkers: Planking Mad


Bee Rescue, Cottonwood Madonna and Miracles

This morning I received an early morning call from a good friend of mine who said that the Cottonwood tree behind the 300 year old San Felipe church in Old Town Albuquerque blew over last night in the 60 mile per hour winds.... and that there was a hive of bees in one of the tree trunks freezing to death on the asphalt. Here is a history of the tree and the Virgin that I pulled from the book NM Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities and Other Offbeat Stuff:
          "It's a wooden statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and the figure is actually whittled into the tree trunk. It was carved more than fifty years ago by Toby Avila, a parish member. Avila was on active duty in the US Navy during the Korean Conflict and vowed that if he returned safely, he would create an image of the Blessed Virgin to show his gratitude.
          Using only a kitchen knife and a flashlight, Avila chipped away the tree trunk for a year before the statue was finished." Avila passed away as soon as the statue was completed.

I pulled out my equipment and drove the few blocks to old town to assess the situation. It looked like a hurricane blew through and there was a softball size of bees freezing to death on the ground.

 The Virgin is carved beautifully into the heart of the tree trunk

My top bar hive sits in front of the wreckage. The bees are in a clump behind the hive.
The virgin survived within the tree trunk

Unbelievably, the tree completely missed the Church and fell around the building.

 Here are the clump of bees that survived the blistering cold all night long, nestled together.

Here is my equipment laid out. I used a vacuum to suck up the bees. I collected all the honeycomb I could gather and piled it into the back of the topbar beehive so the bees could have some food to get them through the freezing temperatures. I then emptied the tupperwear container that I vacuumed all the bees into into the beehive on to the honey reserves.
The are in the inner chamber of my tupperwear, huddled in the far corner.
I dumped the bees into the beehive

And closed it up
The bees are now in my backyard. I hope to combine them with a trapout that has plenty of bees and not much honey. This newly rescued hive has plenty of honey, but not that many bees so it will make the perfect union. Will these bees survive? Doubtful, but miracles are known to happen. The gigantic Cottonwood Virgin tree fell around a church and didn't destroy a thing.
Home Sweet Home. 


Crystallized Honey

I was just in the middle of making a nice hot toddy with honey from my hives at Central and Atrisco when I took out a gigantic scoop of honey and realized that it had crystallized sometime during this week. Eeeeek! What does that mean...
Liquid honey snuggled between two jars of fully crystalized honey
Public Service Announcement: Anybody who has purchased honey from me that was harvested in September from AMYO Farms..... you're honey is probably crystallizing on you right now! Don't freak out. This is totally natural and what raw honey does. You will see the crystals forming in the bottom of the jar and within a few days, the entire bottle will harden up. Also, why haven't you eaten that honey yet?!

Here is the scientific stuff on why honey crystallizes. Honey is a mixture of sugar (fructose and glucose) and water. In nature, glucose is usually in a solid state, while fructose is liquid. Different types of honey have different ratios of glucose and fructose. When there is a lot more glucose then fructose, the honey will crystallize faster.

I also didn't heat the honey and gave it a rough strain before pouring it into the glass jars so the crystals start forming around tiny particles of yummy pollen and propolis.

Long story short, your honey is perfectly normal honey. We Americans think of honey as being liquid, when really, it should be crystallized. That's how you know it hasn't been heated or diluted with corn syrup, etc while being processed. Another hot toddy please!


The Bees of Kefalonia, Greece

I just returned from an outstanding trip to Greece and a short time in Spain. I was hoping I would spot a few beehives in my travels.... I had no idea that I couldn't throw a rock without hitting a beehive on the island of Kefalonia, Greece. I would wake up every morning and look out over olive groves, lemon trees, ocean views and beehives! I met many wonderful beekeepers on this island, selling honey out of back of moving crates, roadside stands and out of plastic bags. My only problem.... my Greek consists of good morning, thank you and toilet. I had so many questions I wanted to ask these beekeepers, but couldn't ever get past the niceties. As a result, the Kefalonian secret to beekeeping remains a mystery to me.

Instead of writing about the details of Grecian Beekeeping, I can only include a photo album of my travels and outsider observations. My husband James took all the photos that look old fashioned using the hipstamatic setting on his iphone.

I ended my trip in Barcelona, Spain and had to include this fantastic bee mural:

 I see a B!

The map of Kefalonia, the sixth largest island in Greece and some Nescafe. Greece, not known for their great coffee, but known for their amazing beaches.

One amazing beach

This is a view from outside my bedroom window. I was staying in a friend's house, outside of Kaligata. The hives outside my bedroom window sit on concrete pads. Wonder if this is a solution for hive beetles? These hives are nestled between groves of olive trees and citrus fruits. Looks like the rest of the hives have been moved to a different location for the season.

The next photos are of honey sold at a roadside stand/ shipping container by a very pregnant woman who spends her days watching trashy Greek tv and peddling honey (She has a Great Job). I traded this lovely beekeeper honey from my own hives in NM and she gave me honey for my girls in bottles, shaped like Grecian urns.  The main pollinator crop is thyme and the honey tastes like very sweet caramel. 

Stop the car...HONEY!

The next hives overlook the largest city in Kefalonia, Argostoli. They are right along the highway. I am actually standing on the side of very busy road taking this picture. 

This jar is honey I bought from a very rugged looking man in the town of Assos. This man only had 4 jars of honey on display. He was so gnarly and weathered, my first instincts told me that maybe there was something wrong with the honey, maybe it was stolen, or maybe it was too dirty to eat. With trepidation, I handed him my 12 euros. Then, I watched him lovingly polish the fingerprints off the bottle with a stained cloth and tighten the lid to make sure the precious honey wouldn't seep out and I realized.... this is the real deal beekeeper. This honey is precious to me. 

Proof that I am in Greece. Honey, beach, speedo and greek yogurt. Yum

These are my brand spanking new beekeeping work coveralls I found in Argostoli. These pants have 10,000 pockets, zippers and flaps. Also, I look so euro cool, it hurts.

The following pictures are of a beeyard owned by a man and woman couple outside of Katichori. Again, we couldn't get past the language barrier, but I took some pictures of their photo album of processing honey. Check out the steep and rocky yard they keep bees on. I really like their colorful signs and flags. 

Check out this great "bee bike" for transporting hives.
Another amazing bee yard surrounded buy cypress trees.

What's that in the distance? Oh, more beehives!
These are pictures of the Underground lake of Melissani. One of the stories is that the cave was named in ancient times from the Greek word for bee, "Melissa".  It's been written, that 1000's of years ago this cave was originally dry, and there were swarms of wild bees living underground. The caves were freckled with honey comb hanging like stalagtites, dripping honey and it could be reached through a underground passageway. Since then, many earthquakes, have opened up the cave and made it what it is today... and underground lake.