Detroit Bee City – KM156


This is Episode One hundred and Fifty Six of our beekeeping show – Detroit Bee City.

We are Gary and Margaret, We are kiwimana.

kiwimana are beekeepers who keep bees on the Wild West Coast of Auckland in New Zealand. We love to teach about beekeeping. We sell beekeeping supplies and share information to help you keep honey bees organically.

In this episode we talk about Bees in Detroit and why Almond Milk is not good for bees. We have roving reporters checking in from Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, England and Canada.

What’s happening with us

Shout out to Ben Jolly for asking where we were, wow it’s been a couple of months since we had a new podcast out.

As discussed in the last show, Gary lost his day job. So it’s been a bit tough for the last couple of month.

Time has been used to find ways to save money as we look at the hope of being able to have kiwimana to help us survive.

Thanks to our supporters, your help means we can eat and your donations contribute to covering some costs in producing the work we provide you.

What’s Happening with our Bees – We talk to Margaret

In the latest newsletter I have talked about the strange and interesting bee season of 2019.

Spring started with a real burst, so our plans for pre-emptive splitting began…. then we ended up with weeks of heavy rain resulting in near starvation and new-season queens going MIA.

Starvation was a result of the surviving colonies being so strong, they were already starting to change their laying patterns to loads of worker brood …with lots of new worker bees coming on.

So as the population was increasing, the need for food plus the rain forcing indoor activities, then suddenly we had some drop in temperatures so they needed lots of food for undertaking their activities such as feeding the new baybee’s plus everyone else… meanwhile having to keep temperatures level for brood raising -- not too hot, not too cold.

This led to the need for us to provide lots of honey frames…so we had to use our stored honey frames to feed them..

Interestingly overall the first preemptive splits did amazingly well and did manage to get most with naturally mated on the wing, laying new season queens…then the weather posed more challenges….the second round of splits had issues which meant that 1 colony did not end up with a new queen.

But then while I was running an introduction bee class, there were two queens found in another split and suspiciously one of those queens looked more likely to be from the colony that did not have a returning new season queen -- the bees in there were more carniolan and darker so I have deduced that she probably ended up there.

Anyways…I ended up separating the two queens into their own boxes but with a queen excluder between them and left them to lay so I could check their laying patterns as there were some patchy laying of drone cells and a few worker cells but not uniform and solid patterns but definitely single eggs in cells so separating them meant that I could go back to check each level and make sure each queens laying improved… then left them to it.

If you feel confused -- imagine how confused I am !!!

So then about 7 days later opened the two queen hive to find there was another queen !! so this one split ended up producing three queens…strange but true…next day I went in to check the separated queens and both were laying well, so I moved one queen hive away and set her up with honey, pollen, drawn comb assortments and brood in the middle, then pollen to each outer side of brood and then honey/nectar frames on each side of them.

In the meantime one of the ‘older’ queen colonies started to produce chalkbrood so was destined for failure and has since succumbed to ill health. 🙁

So will be going in to check the third new queen to see if she has gone out to be properly mated and if so will aim to separate her but it’s important to wait for more population otherwise there wouldn’t be enough nurse bees to raise the new brood which needs to be kept at the correct temperature and also not enough foraging bees for collecting food -- best that I left them together while they build-up.

  • I think the key thing is to be patient, not to panic and to just take one decision at a time sometimes rushing can spoil the girls plans.

What does it mean to be an Organic or Natural Beekeeper?

Being organic or a natural beekeeper has just as many challenges as any other type of beekeeper and as a hobbyist to boot, we do have the luxury of enjoying our girls and having plenty of time to spend with them…the most enjoyable part is when I have done all my jobs like mowing the lawns and finishing inspections and then going to my favourite spot to watch the beehive entrances.

The weather also pushes challenges on us, so we encourage our students to plan for the expected but conduct inspections to understand what is going on in the hive, record their findings, take photos -- as knowing what you are looking at is a key learning job when starting your beekeeping. Cameras these days enable you to zoom in so then you can start identifying and labelling what you are seeing.

Our mission is to Save Bees, one hive at a time, we have successfully created more colonies this year but also lost some, it’s hard, but that’s the reality.

My best advice….Take losses and learn from them, analyse what you did, analyse the outcome go through frames and learn what to do better maybe talk to others and get some feedback and ideas and move forward from there.

Roving Reporters

Ben from Bees Bees – Victoria – Australia

Ben is a beekeeper from Melbourne in Australia, his company is called Ben’s Bees. Check out his website HERE

Also follow Ben on instagram

Gudney – Central Auckland – New Zealand

Gudney is an amazing Beekeeper and friend.

Check out her WindRush Hive Data HERE on hivetool.net

Thanks Gudney for being a supporter of the kiwimana Buzz!!!

Kelvin Towner

Kelvin – Dunblane – Scotland

Kelvin is an Advanced Beemaster Beekeeper from Dunblane in Scotland. He teaches beginner beekeepers and Honey bee biology to his local association. His main interest isn’t honey but Queen Rearing and Breeding to improve his stock of bees.

Chris from Britmana – Sheffield – UK

Chris also known as the greatest Beekeeper in Sheffield. Reports in from the North of England. Check out his Instagram Account to follow along with his Beekeeping and Life.

Thanks guys for being one of our supporters!

Linda “Bee Girl” – Ontario – Canada

Linda is a Beekeeper,Mother and Mead Maker. We hear how she keeps bees while protecting her bees from bears in Canada. Follow her adventures on Instagram HERE

Linda’s Bancroft Photos

Do You Want to Be Part of Show and Become Roving Reporter

It would be awesome if you can help create the kiwimana buzz by being part of the show --  reporting  in from your location while in the field

If so…Could you record a quick update of one to two minutes of your local weather conditions and what other people should be doing with the bees in your area.

To Learn how to get your report to us, check out:- How to become a Roving Reporter

This Week in Beebooks

We catch up with Jerry Burbidge from Northern Bee Books about a great bee book of the week.

Harvesting Honey by Wally Shaw

This booklet covers all stages of the process of getting honey from the hive and into a jar (suitable for sale) in a manner that inflicts the least damage to what is a delicate product.

You can buy this book at Northern Bee Books. Or on Amazon HERE

Beekeeping News

Well our first Story is from Detroit Bee City

Creating a buzz in Detroit’s vacant lots

Non profit organisations across Detroit is benefitting bees in the city by using vacant lots to keep bees. Wow what a great use of unused space.

Jackson, formerly a self-employed entrepreneur in commercial photography and advertising, and his partner, Nicole Lindsey — both 35-year-old lifetime Detroiters — saw opportunity in Detroit’s tens of thousands of vacant lots.


Talking Points

  • In 2014 Vacant lots in Detroit was 100,000, this has reduced to between 60,000 to 70,000 today.
  • The city uses less pesticides than rural areas, making it a great place to raise bees.
  • Weeds are not weeds, they are wildflowers that bees need
  • One of bigger organizations is “Bees in the D”, which now employs around 10 people, along with 100 volunteers
  • They provide beehives throughout the city
  • Check them out HERE

Bees in the D Promo

Bees in the D Promo

Almond Milk Is Even More Evil Than You Thought

This article from “the cut” which quotes a bigger article from the Guardian.

In the past five years, almond milk consumption in the United States has exploded over 250 percent. The lower-calorie, vegan milk alternative is a staple in grocery stores and coffee shops across the country now, but its booming popularity comes at a heavy environmental cost


Guardian Article discussed is HERE

Talking Points

  • The strain on the pollinating is wiping out billions of honeybees?
  • Enormous quantities of pesticides used on almonds is blamed
  • The Central Valley region in California is responsible for more than 80 percent of the world’s almond supply.
  • It takes a gallon (3.78 litres) of water to produce a single almond
  • The TV Show with Billy Bob Thornton -- Goliath Season Three

My yard is currently filled with stacks of empty bee boxes that used to contain healthy hives

Dennis Arp

Your Feedback

Nathan Organ Keep in mind that this is only talking about the USA almond industry. I have it on good authority that Australian almond farming and bee handling is not the same and uses less chemicals and treats the bees with more care.

Phil Teppanyaki I never thought almond milk was evil! Or is it the use of pesticides that’s evil ? 🤔 🧐 🤨

kiwimana Margaret Yes pesticides used by food producers when managing land but thereby causing food to be making people sick. Also fungicides, herbicides sprayed on seeds and the soil.
Naturally grown Almonds would be ideal. Healthy soil. Healthy Bees. Healthy people.

Tricia Mullensky Perry This article is stupid. Yes monocultures are bad but the bees LOVE almond nectar. If there is cooperation and they only spread pesticides at night. The bees will be fine. If you don’t wish to risk your bees, don’t bring them to the annual pollination. 🙄

kiwimana It’s true, we humans have travelled all around the world taking our favourite things with us, plants, animals, insects. In some cases like in New Zealand we have lots of non-native species which are invasive and affect the natural environment, due to the fact our climate and soil suits them.
Honey bees are put in boxes, which is not natural to them.
When I say they don’t travel, I said they don’t travel such long distances, across a whole continent. It’s the humans moving them. It must be stressful for the Bees. Reorientation takes energy and often their reward is sugar-syrup -- not exactly the nutritious healthy variety of food that a ‘travelling’ honey bee needs.
I thought the European Honey Bee “Apis Melifera” is from Europe ?
The Varroa Destructor mite is not a natural parasite to the European Honey Bee… That is why the VDM has been so devastating for them.
Currently we are hoping they will grow and develop better bee behaviour to deal with the VDM.
It’s true that if we humans never travelled -- the world would be different.

Mary Laura Fitzgerald kiwimana -- when they go to the almonds, their reward is nectar, not sugar syrup.

Helen Patricia Smith Mary Laura Fitzgerald you have an impressive knack for misunderstanding everything on this thread . Kiwimana are bee experts here in NZ with a beekeeping operation, podcasts, sell equipment and interview international bee experts . Telling them the bees get nectar not sugar syrup from almonds has made me spit my coffee this morning . Brilliant 😂😂😂

kiwimana Mary Laura Fitzgerald sorry but I think there’s a bit of confusion here. My understanding is that the nature of the almond pollination in the USA is that the Bees are moved through different states in-time with flowering but due to the nature of moving the Bees the beekeepers supply sugar-syrup as a food source whilst the travelling is going on.

Mary Laura Fitzgerald kiwimana -- perhaps for the couple of days they are traveling (and it is not many days because they travel 24 hours a day without stopping) because they are in a minimum number of boxes when they travel. But once they are on the almonds, they are bringing in nectar. So their reward for pollination is actually nectar.

Feedback from You – The Summer Survey

We have some results from the Summer Survey

Most people like what we do, so not much to change this time 🙂

Some Great Comments Thanks to everyone that took the time to do the Survey.

What part of the show do you enjoy the most?

  • Margarets knowledge and your experiences make the show what it is. We love the reports from other beekeepers too
  • The interviews with fellow beekeepers. Also love the funny banter between G and M.
  • I enjoy all the show. It’s good to hear what to do and planning housekeeping etc going from summer to winter winter into spring I am always learning from your show. We are all having the same problems and working together to look after our world of bees.

What do you wish we would do less of?

  • I think you have it spot on !
  • Quoting/reading out other people’s reaction to controversial stories.
  • Nothing

What would you like to hear more of in the future?

  • More roving reports which is up to us
  • You often talk about giving bees some more of their own honey in winter. Do you keep it freezer? And do you only ever just split your hives or do you requeen or rear some queen cells. Yes I am just learner like to hear about anything it’s great to have the time cheers from a retire and thanks you are great.

Other Comments

  • Thanks so much . FYI a I found this survey difficult to find on the website -- that might be why more haven’t filled it in . I got the link it when listened again and typed it in directly . Cheers
  • Keep up the good work G and M. I feel that you’ve got a winning mix at the moment. Great advice from M, interesting interviews, funny banter and I even like your music shorts of intros to segments.

Who helped us in bringing this show to you?

Did you enjoy that show, This show is made possible for you by our amazing supporters. Every show we read out our top Supporters and on the first show of each month we read out all the supporters. Thanks to you all. This week we would like to thank:-

Dan McGivern, Tony Lumb, Buzzed Honeys -- Humane Bee Relocation, Gudny Hunter, Nathan Buzzinga Beekeeping, Mandy Shaw, Mun Rosewarne, Chris Palgrave, Michelle Lassche, Robin O’Connell, Greg Parr, Boris Brockmann, Tim Willcox, Finn’s bees, Jim, Fil, Christopher Brown, Glenn Gowthorpe, Carolyn Sloane, Michelle Scheidler, Trish Stretton, Irene Townshend, Lisa Morrissey, John Paff and Scott Wiltshire.

Show Times

  • What’s happening with us 00:01:08
  • What’s Happening with our Bees – We talk to Margaret 00:02:32
  • Roving Reporters 00:12:02
  • – Victoria – Australia 00:12:16
  • – Central Auckland – New Zealand 00:15:32
  • – Dunblane – Scotland 00:18:53
  • – Sheffield – UK 00:22:04
  • – Ontario – Canada 00:25:45
  • Do You Want to Be Part of Show and Become Roving Reporter 00:32:05
  • This Week in Beebooks 00:32:49
  • Creating a buzz in Detroit’s vacant lots 00:34:54
  • Almond Milk Is Even More Evil Than You Thought 00:37:27
  • Feedback from You -- The Summer Survey 00:45:02
  • Who helped us in bringing this show to you? 00:51:02

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