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:


My First Swarm Catch of the Season!

I just caught my first swarm of bees yesterday! I am embarrassed to say that the bees were from my own hive (oops) and that it was a wild circus act. The hive was the last of my hives I needed to split and I got a call from Farmer Jesse who just happened to be working the fields when he saw the mass of bees.

I threw my girls in the truck and hauled over to the farm. The bees were hanging 12 feet off the ground in a Chinese Elm tree so I set up the ladder. I taped my box to the top of the ladder so that I didn't have to hold the box and try and yank down on the branch at the same time, while dangling 10 feet in the air.

I told the farmers to WATCH OUT, gave the branch a swift jerk and all the bees landed in my box. I then realized that I forgot my sugar water and honey comb lure back at the house, so I left the box taped to the ladder, hauled home, grabbed the goodies, hauled butt back to the farm.... only to find that my box had come untaped and had fallen over a 8 foot chain link fence into the neighbors property. Oi!

box down!
I retrieved the box and the bees had stayed put so I shook them into a new beehive with all the new lures. Did I mention that Farmer Jesse had just flood irrigated and that this was all happening in 4 inches of water? Did I mention that my girls were busy honking the car horn the entire time? Did I mention that I had an audience of farmers watching my circus act?

Anyway, next time I'm not forgetting my lures. I might forget the box to catch the bees in but never again will I forget that darned sugar water and honey comb!
Home Sweet Home


Hippie Stain

I'm trying out a new stain on my hives that I got from John Gagne in Santa Fe. This "Eco Wood Treatment" is from Canada and is totally eco friendly (the label says so). I know people who dip their entire hives in this stuff and the bees don't have any reaction to the stain inside the hive. Also, the stain supposedly never has to be maintained. Pretty amazing claims. I'll let you know 15 years down the road if it did the trick.

The only funny thing about the stain is that it makes wood look really weathered. I felt like I was spending the day in a Rugged Old West Movie Town! The stain comes in a powdered form and you have to remember to use imperial measurements. 1 imperial gallon= 4.54 liters. Oi, math.

Eco Wood Treatment

Brand new wood with the stain= wild west chique

Splitsville 2012

 I've just finished checking all my hives for the first time this year. I was beating myself up for being a bad beekeeper because there are reports of swarms all over town and I hadn't checked my own bees- they could have been the ones swarming.

Turns out my instincts to wait were right on because I only had 2 hives that had swarm cells. These 2 hives I split into 4 hives total to try and keep half the bees from leaving with the old queen to find a new home (swarm).

The technique I have found to be the easiest for me is to put the old queen, 2 bars of honey and 2 bars of capped brood into a new hive and then move it away from the original hive that still has the swarm cells. I also like to close up the entrance to the new hive with the old queen to just a couple of bee widths to prevent robbing.

I plan to check on the hives with queen cells in 2 weeks to see if the new queen has emerged. At this point she will have a body like a cross between a drone and a worker bee and she is also SUPER fast! Only after the virgin queen goes out to mate, does she get the body associated with queen bees.
Drone Brood

Queen Cells with Larvae

peek a boo