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:


The doctor's in- Hive check

I just checked all the hives today and am laughing every time I come across a pink hole of honey in the midst of yellow honey in the honeycomb. I haven't been proven in my theory, but I think that this pink "nectar" the bees are collecting is the red fluid people fill hummingbird feeders with. Someone at the Fair this weekend was asking me how to keep bees away from her hummingbird feeder. She said the birds couldn't get close to the feeder without getting chased away. I didn't have any good suggestions except for telling her to try and change her point of view because now that she is feeding a different "pollinator" than she expected. Enjoy the bee show!

Anyway, the hives are looking great. I'm a little sad because I'm only going to check the hives one more time in October and then I will close the hives up with a kiss and a wish that they will survive to April. I guess I'm going to have to find another awesome hobby/ obsession to fill my time with. Ice climbing?

I did check on the South Broadway bee trapout and discovered that there was a wrench in the operation. A dead bee was blocking the only way out for the bees. Ack! I suspect it has been a few days since they were able to get out of the hive judging by the collection of dead bees at the base of trap funnel. Easy fix. I used a stick to pull out the dead bee and the rest of the bees came rushing out.

We can't get out!

Jessie, you're my hero! Let's get out of this trap
Also, I found this beautiful green beetle at the entrance to my hive "Japan". Bad idea dude. The bees had discovered the beetle and were stinging at it and trying to pull it away from the hive.


I've joined the dark side- Langstroth Hives

Thanks to Bob, who I met at Abigail's Honey Stand a couple weeks ago, I'm the proud of owner of 2 Langstroth Hives. Eeeeek! Bob's been keeping bees for 30 years and was looking for a good home for a couple of hives.

The hives are old, but in great shape. I think one of the hives was Bob's first hive... ahh the memories. Today, I started out by scraping out the decrepit wax and old plastic foundations from the combs. These hives were hosting some massive wax moth colonies. The moths had completely eaten out most of the honey and wax, and all that remained, was a wretchedly disgusting, oozing and tangled mess to be cleaned up. A little bit of "elbow grease" has never been know to hurt anybody, so I pulled out my TJ Carr hive tool and started cleaning up the frames.

I'm very new to the world of Langstroth. My first experience with this type of hive was with Zia Queen Bee's queen rearing class. I was able to appreciate how easy it was to maneuver the frames. Megan Mahoney with Mahoney Apiaries has also graciously taken me out in the field so I could get my hands dirty with Langstroths. Next spring, I will fill these hives with swarms. I can't really do splits from my top bar style hive into these hives unless I just shake the bees into the box and give them a queen. Sounds messy. I'm still a top bar fan to the core, but check in with me next year to see what I think about these hives.

Off to order some new plasticell foundation. Question to you Langstroth peeps: How long can I use the plastic foundation before replacing it? Is it similar to top bar in that I need to rotate it out of the hive every 3-5 years?

Thanks Bob!!!!

My new babies. Thanks Bob!

Old plastic foundations headed to the dump. Breaks my heart to throw them out, but don't want to risk infecting my bees with old foundation.

Almost Clean

Barf, wax moths are gross

Come see "Live Bees" at the NM State Fair

I just helped the Abq Beeks by manning the demonstration hive inside the Agriculture Building on Sunday. I lured people in with a sign that said "live bees" and then as everyone was mesmerized by the sight of 3000 buzzing, stinging insects, trapped in a glass hive, I talked my throat sore about drones, workers, queens and wax. This was a great outreach to the community about bees!

I was the first one to the Agriculture building on Sunday and it it took some head scratching for me to figure out how to open up the demonstration hive windows. I stopped myself 1/2 second short from releasing all the bees into the room. All I had to do was turn one knob 1/4" further and it could have really been a "live bees" exibit! I would have had to call a beekeeper or someone to get rid of all the bees. Anybody know a beekeeper?

Speaking of stopping myself 1/2 second short, I had to stop myself from beginning to tell an 8 year old about "the birds and the bees". She was wondering why there weren't any male bees (drones) in the hive and I was telling her that it's getting cold out, all the drones are getting kicked out of the hive, because there aren't as many mating flights, and that the queens get inseminated by the drones, and then impregnated and.... uh oh. I locked eyes with the girls mom at that point at turned tomato red.

At around 2, I was relieved by the fab duo of Ed and Louella Costanza. That pair can "talk Eskimo's into buying snow". What I'm trying to say is that it is easy to get entranced by their words. When Ed starts talking, a crowd gathers to hear to what he has to say.

There will also bee "live bees" next Saturday and Sunday from 11 pm-6 pm at the Fair in the Agriculture building, manned by "live beekeepers", so come with your questions.

All this happened while I was basking in the glow of my 2nd place award for wax in the NM State Fair. I didn't win anything for my honey, but there was stiff competition this year. I counted at least 50 honey entries.

Here I am entering my honey in the NM State Fair a few days ago. We're trying to decide if it's amber or light amber. Yup, dark amber.


Come check it out- Beekeepers State Fair Display Case

Here is the Albuquerque Beekeepers display case at the NM State Fair I helped put together today. We have a lovely TJ Carr top bar hive, a langstroth hive, some good reads and a whatever bee related stuff we could jam into a 3' by 5' case! More is better, right? Right? Anyway, there will be a beekeeper next to the display with a small display hive of bees both weekends to answer questions. Stop to chat and bring us deep fat fried twinkies!

Next year Megan Mahoney is plotting and planning to get together some live bee demonstrations with bee beards and whatever other fun stuff happens with bees. I can't wait. 


Are you ready to rumble? State Fair Time!

I'm getting my entries ready for the NM State Fair and am trying really hard not to let my competitive spirit take hold, but really, I am prepared to kick some honey and wax butt!

Just check out this sweet triple screened honey. The judges are going to take one taste, put down their tiny sample spoons and fight over who can gobble fistfuls of this medium-amber lusciousness. I took this comb of honey from Guatemala. I was actually worried I wouldn't have any honey for the state fair this year. I harvested for last weekend's honey stand and every drop of honey was sold. I might make another large harvest this year, but it won't be until the end of this month because of how slowly the bees are bringing in nectar.
First I cleaned the honey using a fine mesh stainer and then to remove the tiny white foam of wax on top, by straining the honey through cheesecloth, resting on another fine mesh strainer.

Not only will my honey kick some honey butt, but my butter colored wax is ready to rumble. I'm really excited about the color of this wax. I had many new hives this year and had to fight cross combing all over the place. The bummer with cutting apart this comb is that the bees had invested a huge amount of resources in comb that I cut apart to keep them growing straight on the top bars. The upside to cross combing was that I was left with a huge amount of brand new, clean comb. The queen never had a chance to lay brood in this comb, and so the beeswax is free of cocoon buildup and the dark brown stains they leave. This wax looks like butter and I have just started the process of separating it.

Rather than using a solar melter on this wax, I used my oven heated to the lowest setting and then turned off. I am still working out the kinks on my solar melter, having killed 100's of bees in my last go round. I waited until the wax melted away from the "bee trash" and then let the wax cool.

If you are interested in entering your honey or wax or comb honey in the NM State Fair, entries are due this week on September 6-7. Here is the link for NM State Fair Honey Entries. I will see you there!


Bees go from Rags to Riches in USA hive

Today, I checked on good ol' US of A at Gwyn's microfarm and was blown away at how well this hive is doing. This is the proverbial rags to riches story. When I discovered that USA didn't have a queen, the hive was a ghost town. There was 1/3 of the bees still around, no brood and just a feeling of hopelessness to this hive. Even the buzzing sounded depressed. Buzzz- uh buzzzzzzz. I put in a few bars of bees and queen cells from Ethiopia and within 3 weeks this hive has turned into the land of milk and honey. I might even be able to harvest from this hive at the end of the month. GO USA!

In a related story, Guatemala just gave up some of their babies to go rule across the waters of the Rio Grande and over land to the far away world of Edith and Central.

What I mean is that I sent some brand new larvae with another beekeeper who has lost her queen. Kelly and Sylvia's queenless bees will rear a new queen from Guatemala's 2-3 day larvae. Even though it is getting late in the season, I still am noticing a few drones in my hives, so it's not too late to start raising a queen. I actually have heard that many beekeepers like to requeen all their hives before the winter because the new queens are egg laying machines. Those newly impregnated queens will fill the comb with eggs faster than the worker bees can build it. Cross your fingers for Kelly and Sylvia's hive to make it!