Origin of my beekeeping blog

We all make mistakes. And if you think you don’t, you’re a liar, ignorant, delusional or all three.

In fact, if we’re honest with ourselves, we make lots of them, especially when we’re new at something.

It’s not whether you’ll make a mistake; it’s when. You can let it disillusion you, or you can learn from it. I choose the latter.

That’s why I started my beekeeping blog – to log all my errors and mistakes and learn from them.

You might even say this Blog of Blunders is my gateway to success.

My blog is called The Hive Mind. I called it that because of the obvious connection between bees, hives and working together as a team, and also as a nod to Star Trek, since I’m a hardcore fan.

The address is beehivemind.com because hivemind was taken.

Why a beekeeping blog

Why did I decide to do a blog in the first place?

First, my initial reason was as a place to keep my hive inspection logbook. Paper gets lost, and I wanted a platform that I could access from anywhere.

Second, I like new stuff, electronic stuff, social media stuff, etc., and I like learning about them. So why not combine them. In addition, I really need to have more than a passing knowledge about social media as part of my day job, and the blog provided me a way to learn more.

Third, I’ve never been real disciplined when it comes to keeping a journal. I knew my intensions were good to keep regular beekeeping notes and blog them regularly. I also knew my track record didn’t necessarily indicate future success. Frankly, I thought long periods of inactivity looked bad. Still do.

Fourth, even though I initially thought of this blog as a place to document my hive inspections, it turned out I was more interested in learning new things. I wanted to talk about that, too.

Yesterday also marks the first day I attached my name to my blog. Before, I was always simply “beehivemind.”

Why the change? Mostly because I’m going to a WordPress conference at the end of the October. I also signed up for an online blogging fundamentals workshop from WordPress’ Blogging University, both of which required a name.

Past blog subjects

As indicated, my blog soon became an eclectic mix of beekeeping subjects ranging from how my hives were doing on a particular inspection, to a book review, to how I dealt with finding out I was deathly allergic to bees.

My posts have been pretty varied.

They’ve also been pretty infrequent. The main reason is that I write for a living. By the time I get home, I’m all written out, and there are plenty of things I need to be doing around the house.

Subject and audience for future posts

I’d like to continue presenting a mix of materials that interest me as a relatively new beekeeper. The more I know, the more I have to learn. I suppose many other beekeepers – novice and experienced alike – are the same.

In addition to myself, this blog is for them.

Beekeeping is as much art as it is science. As such, there are multiple opinions on how to do any one thing, depending on who you ask. Personally, I like seeing different opinions and learning enough about them to pick the one I think will be most effective for my situation.

In return, I want to connect with other beekeepers to learn from their inevitable mistakes. If they’re anything like me, I’ll be learning LOTS from them.

Creating a water source for your bees

Water bee

Bees like the flat top on my fountain. It gives them a place to land without getting anything other than their feet wet.

The weather is going to kick it up a couple notches this weekend. And you need to protect your bees.

With temperatures expected to be over 100 degrees, bees need water. They will most likely find it. But its best they find from a source you’ve created than from your neighbor’s pool, hot tub or equally inappropriate spot.


Leaky sprinklers provide an excellent source of water, too.

All you need to create a water source is a relatively clean source of water and support for the bees so they don’t have to land in the water. Support is crucial, or you’ll have lots of dead bees. 

There’s some disagreement on how far away from the hive to locate your water sources. Some say to locate it as close as possible. Others say to locate it at least 30 feet away.

I’ve had much better luck locating it further away. My bees didn’t touch a birdbath located next to their hives or after I moved it about 20 feet away.

They loved my hot tub, which was a disaster. They found an opening in the cover, but couldn’t get out. That made for a lot of dead bees. They found my neighbor’s hot tub about the same time with the same results. In that case, we had to completely close off access to create a new source.


Don’t forget to fill your water source regularly. Or equip it with an automatic filler, such as this one.

Some say the minerals in pool and hot tub water attract bees to those sources. I read once that making minerals available bees is one way to attract them.  

I’ve got a couple of salt licks in my pasture. The bees are all over them when they are covered with dew early in the morning. I wouldn’t put mineral salt in my created water source, though.

Speaking of creating a water source, it doesn’t have to be creative. I’ve got two birdbaths, two leaking sprinklers and one fountain.

The birdbaths are filled with rocks. But some people get creative with shells, sphagnum moss, bright baubles. And not only with bird baths.

A member of Portland Urban Beekeepers uses a bathtub that is pretty tricked out.


If you want to rejuvenate, grab an old piece of equipment and put it back to work.

Sphagnum moss, which you can get at most garden centers, is good because it wicks up water. The bees can land on it and suck up the water from the moss.

Some people use burlap instead of moss. Seems like it would decay and mold easily. Moss was born wet.

The main point is to provide relatively fresh water and landing spots for them.

Badger Canyon bees had a good winter

FullSizeRenderI opened up my two remaining hives for the first time this year and was pleased. Both had capped and uncapped brood. Both had viable queens roaming around laying eggs.

Bees in both looked like they were bringing in nectar.

In February, they were bringing in pale yellowish-green pollen. Now, it’s bright yellow.

My original, remaining hive from 2013, seems to also be my most productive and docile.

It’s also the hive that sent a bee, like a guided missile, to sting me in the eyebrow, sending me into anaphylactic shock. That adventure will be the subject of another post.

I couldn’t figure out how to combine frames last fall, since frames in all three brood chambers contained brood, honey or pollen. So that hive has three boxes.

When I looked the other day, the top box was about 30 percent full of honey and had bees that seemed to be drawing out the comb, but no brood.

The middle box contained the queen, brood, pollen and honey.

IMG_0613The bottom box contained bees drawing out comb, but the comb was empty.

My other hive is only two deep with the top box very full of brood, pollen and honey and the bottom box with empty comb being drawn out.

Both looked health. My only question is whether or not I need to consolidate the three-box hive into two, or just let nature take its course.

Taking Michael Bush’s advice that you’re better off doing nothing than something wrong, I’ll probably do that latter.

Are they swarming again?

Are they getting ready to swarm or are they just warm?

Are they getting ready to swarm or are they just warm?

I know this is kind of late in the year for a swarm, but I’ve already had one. It happened right around July 4th. When I checked it on August 18, I noticed there were almost no bees in there and almost no honey.

So, I’m nervous about another swarm.

When I checked them again on August 25, the one hive was doing great. Lots of honey, lots of action. But there was some weird stuff in there that it turns out was wax moth larvae.

So this weekend, I’m going to get myself a pair of needle nose pliers and start picking those things out. I hope its not too late.

As for the moths themselves, I found a homemade recipe for attracting and killing moths. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 two-liter plastic bottle
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 banana peel


  1. Cut a one-inch hole right below the taper in the top of the bottle.
  2. Boil water and add sugar to dissolve. Let cool.
  3. Add mixture to bottle, along with vinegar and banana peel.
  4. Let ferment for a day or two.
  5. Hang near hives.

I’m told this will attract moths into the bottle, where, like the roach motel, they can check in, but they can’t check out. Same goes for wasps.

I’m checking it out now. Saw a bunch of wasps in there and some fruit flies. But no wasps, although I wasn’t looking very hard  because it was almost dark.

My Bee Adventures

I started raising bees this spring in April 2013. I’ve done a poor job of keeping up my written journal, primarily because I never have it with me.

This is my attempt at chronicling what I learn, what I want to learn, questions I have and most of all, documenting the numerous mistakes I’m making so I don’t make them again.

Now it’s getting toward fall and I’m looking to learn more. I figured I’d also repost interesting stuff I see about bees.

I’m also trying to figure out WordPress blogging too.

Blog at WordPress.com.