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:


Bees on the Bayou Recap, 2013 American Beekeeping Federation Conference

I just recently attended the American Beekeeping Federation conference “Bees on the Bayou” and wanted to share a slice of the information I learned from the talks I sat through. 

Panel Discussion with Dr. Marla Spivak, Dr. Peter Teal, Dr. Jeff Pettis
Dr. Marion Ellis, Dept of Entomology, Univ of Nebraska- “Why Bees?” - Dr. Ellis shares his 45 year love story with bees. Beekeeping puts you in touch with the natural world. No bees is not an option. 
Fran Boyd, “ABF Legislative Update” - The Farm Bill is in Conference between House and Senate. An important aspect for beekeepers is for the DOT to start treating bees like livestock to make it easier to truck bees. Mr. Boyd recommends that we support the Farm Bill. 2013 Farm Bill

Dr. Roger Hoopingarner, “Flight and Foraging Dynamics of the Honey Bee” - Bee flight is possible by the use of integument, like the plucking of a violin string.

Bill Klett, “Breeder Queen Selection Process in the Age of Infinite Honeybee Stress” - To test a cell builder for hygienic behavior, either brood using nitrogen or the poking with a fine needle. Check the area cleaned out after 48 hours. Only after you have selected a breeding pool for nosema resistance, mite resistance and hygienic behavior, can you then select for gentleness, honey production, etc. 

Harry Fulton, “What to Expect When the Apiary Inspector Comes Calling” - Bee inspections came about because of Foulbrood and are needed to prevent the spread of infectious bee diseases and pests, in order to obtain movement permits and certifications and consumer protection to prevent a beekeeper from acquiring diseased and or parasite infected honey bees. 

Dr. Tom Rinderer, USDA Honey Bee Research Lab, “Russian Bee Breeding” - Between 1997 and 2002, 362 Russian Queens were imported by USDA and 18 lines were selected for mating and are now in the hands of the Russian Queen Breeders Association. Russian bees are more varroa mite resistant then Italians and are gentle, but outcrosses can be aggressive.

Zach Browning, Browning Honey Company, “How to Evaluate a Good Apiary and Keeping Apiaries in Reserve” - Think like a bee when choosing a site; abundant and clean foraging is key. Avoid roadways, low lying areas, other apiaries, intensely farmed areas and homes, schools and churches.

Thursday, 1/9/14
Dr. Marla Spivak, “Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Projects to Improve Bee Health” - There is a direct correlation between a propolis envelope within a hive and lower varroa and nosema counts. It is suggested that beekeepers use rough sawn lumber to make beehives or rough up the inside of hive boxes to encourage the build up of a propolis envelope.

Jill Clark, “True Source Honey Update” - True Source Honey came about because of Chinese honey dumping in the USA. Honey producers should register as a True Source Honey Producer to show so that 100% of honey can be traceable to country of origin. Customers can find this label on honey.

Jamie Patreti, “Honey Litigation, Honeygate and Neonics” - Mr. Patreti is part of the law firm representing honey packers. In 2002, there was a worldwide honey scheme that involved 3rd party dumping of Chinese honey through Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia. Now, they are investigating Turkey for 3rd party honey dumping. 

George Hansen, ABF President, “Sustainability” - We need to think about incentives to bring new beekeepers into the industry and start a constructive engagement with the broad agricultural community.

Pete Berthelsen, Pheasants Forever, “ Pollinator Habitat Partnership Opportunitiees with Pheasants and Quails Forever” - There are many groups with the same goal as beekeepers, improving pollinator habitat. If you want to make significant changes, you need partners like the Monarch Butterfly groups and Birding Groups.

Greg Hanaford, “Marketing, Don’t Just Sell the Product, Sell the Beekeeper” - For marketing your product, you have a unique ability to reach a specific segment of the market and they are your customer. Don’t try to be Walmart because there is no way a beekeeper can afford to undercharge the market. Try and lure the quality conscious consumer because they are willing to pay whatever price your honey costs.

Updates From the Beltsville USDA-ARS Lab
  • Dr. Steven Cook, “The Effects of Two Neonicitinoid Pesticides on Honey Bee Respirometry”
  • Dr. Jeff Pettis, “Factors Affecting Queen Health”

Updates from the Tucson USDA-ARS Lab
  • Dr. Vanessa Corby-Harris, “Associations Between Alpha 2.2 Bacteria and Honey Bees: Where Do They Come From and How Can They Help?”
  • Dr. William Merkle, “What Continuous Monitoring of Weight and Temperature Tells US About the Hive”

Dr. Peter Teal, Dr. Marla Spivak, Dr. Jeff Pettis, “Research With Practical Applications” - Everyone can find the latest bee research at: 

What the public can do for researchers is to put pressure on congress to allocate money for Honey Bee research. Hobbiest beekeepers have the best ability to put scientific research into practical uses because they have the time to assess the hive. 

Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Dept of Entomology, Univ of Maryland, “How to Keep Colonies Alive, Lessons From the Field” - Take the Winter Loss survey at


Honeycomb Harley

The most remarkable thing I saw today at the American Beekeeping Federation, "Bees on the Bayou" was this Honeycomb Harley.