Urban Beekeeping in Austin Texas

I have a love of bees because of what they do for us. Besides providing pollenization that our food supply needs, they also provide honey for sweetening which I also ingest for the purpose of warding off local allergens. My late husband was an accomplished beekeeper. I enjoyed learning beekeeping by working the bees with him. This was in the early 1980’s. He had the traditional white wooden bee boxes with frames inside to hold the honeycombs. We used a hive smoker to help us “work” the bees. We would smoke them by blowing smoke from this smoker onto the bees. This served to make them “drunk” and then we were able to “work” them. We took the frames out, cut the caps off the wax which held the honey in and put the frames full of beeswax filled with honey in a large, steel tank on a support system inside the tank made for the frames called an extractor. We put the tank lid on and then turned the hand crank. This movement of the frames around the inside of the tank slung the honey out by centrifigal force. Yes, I might get stung once or twice while doing this, so don’t try working bees if you are allergic to bee stings. I did not have “real” beeking clothes myself so I would wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants and put rubber bands around my sleeve cuffs and pants legs at the bottom. This was done to try and prevent the smoke drunk bees from crawling onto my skin under my clothes. Sometime they would get past the barrier I tried to create and eventually sting me. They crawl all over you but don’t sting when you are working them because of their drunkenness. It’s interesting what the smoke does to them.

Now, honey bees are in trouble. They need your help more than ever. Without honeybees pollinating US agricultural crops our food supply will be in trouble. “Colony collapse disorder” has decimated entire populations of honeybees. Thankfully some people are concerned enough to educate the public and help the bees. There is a new movie called Nicotine Bees about how huge agribusiness is coating their seeds with chemicals called neonicotinoids that end up in pollen and on leaves that may be a factor in “colony collapse disorder”.

In the Austin area there is a new Austin – Urban – Beekeeping MeetUp Group to help the bees. Our first meeting is soon. I’d love for you to join us! Go to MeetUp.com and join up!

4 Replies to “Urban Beekeeping in Austin Texas”

  1. Great idea – the more people who become interested in beekeeping, and hopefully then start keeping bees themselves, the better chance we have of saving this amazing creature.
    By the way, the smoke itself does not affect the bees – it just makes them think that they are in danger & might have to leave the hive (bercause of fire) so they gorge themselves on honey in preparation. That is why they seem drunk – they just have very full bellies!

  2. Thank you for the info about the meet up group and the movie. I have been reading alot about this over the past year. I have a Green Business Directory here in Austin that promotes green businesses and services, hoping I can get the word out about eco friendly products and services that are less toxic for humans and Mother Nature. http://www.findgreen411.com/austin.html

  3. Cool.. This could be a good start for newbies. A Bee smoker is used to calm honeybees by blowing smoke into their beehive. This is especially used before doing any handling on the hive.

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