The Princeton BEE Team

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New Hives!

Posted by Hannah Safford on April 1, 2013 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Post written by Ben Denzer.

This Easter weekend signaled the resurrection of the Princeton bees! On Saturday we had a good group of volunteers come down to the BEE yard where we removed our old hives, constructed a storage trunk, and put down mulch for our bee yard (to stop problems we have been having with weeds). It was a beautiful day and nice to do some manual work!

Today, with the help of Bob Harris, we successfully installed two boxes of bees into new supers. Bob instructed our group on the proper way to introduce the bees to their new home.

Photos can be found here:

We will return to the hives on Thursday to make sure the bees are acclimating well. Exciting times at the BEE Team! 

Bees on Sabbatical

Posted by Hannah Safford on March 10, 2013 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

by Nadirah Mansour

Winter’s always rough on bees. In fact, most beekeepers loose some percentage of their population every winter. We’d been lucky in previous years: we hadn’t lost hives before this year, when we unfortunately lost two. They’d made it through Hurricane Sandy, only to get a mite infestation. We hadn’t medicated because we’d had trouble finding medication in the fall (we’d harvested a little later this year), and this is likely what lead to their loss. We’re taking this as a learning experience and should probably harvest earlier next time, as well as stocking up on medication well in advance.

We plan on rebuilding and have recieved a few generous donations to do so. We’re currently researching hives in the area, as well as equipment costs: when we have mites in a hive, it’s best just to trash it all (there were also mice living in the empty hives). Another effect is that we won’t be having a harvest this year since the hives we get will be so young. But fear not! We’ll still be having events and should have new hives by May!

Apian Academics: Current Topics In Bee Research

Posted by Hannah Safford on March 10, 2013 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (1)

 by Ben Denzer

This past month the BEE team hosted a panel discussion on current topics in bee research with Dennis vanEngelsdorp (University of Maryland) Elina Lastro Niño (Penn State) & Michael Smith '10 (Cornell, BEE Team Founder).

The panel was a great success!

We had a good crowd of grad students, profesors, community members, a few undergrads, and three beekeepers. 

The speakers themselves were great!

 Michael was really engaging and exciting to listen to. He presented on "drift," the phenomena where bees in a bee yard (with hives lined up in a row) mistake which hive is their own and end up going to a hive next to their "home" hive. The numbers on how mixed the hive populations are in situations like this are pretty crazy and have a lot of implications for disease spreading. It is also facinating that the hives function at this level of mixing (how the bee yard is like a organism one step above the hives).

 Elina presented on pheromone production in queen bees, specifically the signals that show that she has mated. Her presentation got into the techinical aspects and was very interesting. 

Dennis gave a really great talk. First he explained what CCD was and dispelled some of the rumors about it. (There has not been a confirmed case of CCD as defined by the team that looked into it in the US in 2 years). Dennis' current project is A huge undertaking with a large grand from the government, the aim is to acquire and distribute information from beekeepers about beekeeping to improve colony health and mortality rates. It is a huge effort and really fascinating how they are organizing all the data and trying to make it available and used by beekeepers who normally keep to themselves and their small circles.

After the presentations there was a Q & A. The audience was engaged and asked some good questions.

Sweet Times at 2D!

Posted by Hannah Safford on March 10, 2013 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

by Louisa Willis

We hosted our third annual Cooking with honey event this past November 18th! We gathered at 2-D and concocted a variety of dishes, incorporating our delicious honey into each dish! We took advantage of all the extra hands to jar the last of this years harvest as well.

Highlights from the meal include honey mustard tofu, brussel sprouts with a honey-balsamic glaze, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and baklava! To accompany the meal, we had an informal mead tasting. We compared our (relatively un-aged) mead with several store bought varieties. The variances in flavors and sweetness were all over the place.

A good time was had by all and the food was delicious!

Bee sure to check out the photos!

Tour of White House Hive

Posted by Hannah Safford on March 10, 2013 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The BEE Team took a trip to visit the White House Bees!

Read about it here! 

and here!

Honey Extraction 2011

Posted by Hannah Safford on August 18, 2011 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Posted by Sarah Bluher

This year's extraction was a great success!  We ended up with 5 gallons of honey, 1 more than last year. We extracted 2 medium supers from Locke hive, and 1 shallow super from Hughes hive.  Our "summer beekeepers," Josh, Irena, Tessie, Aleks, Dawn and myself, with help from Dave Wagenblast, worked hard... but not as hard as the bees!

Dave Wagenblast, a Princeton groundskeeper and beekeeper of 19 years, helped us load the frames one by one into the back of his pick-up truck to transport to Terrace.  We gave each frame a forceful bump and some vigorous brushing to get all of the bees out before transferring it to the empty super over in Dave's truck.  Then we quickly put the cover on to prevent bees from following their honey.  Thanks Dave! 

Once we got all the frames loaded in, we took the honey to Terrace, where we had our extractor set up.  Thanks to Irena and her friend for getting a hold of the extractor!  Thanks to Terrace for tolerating such a sticky situation...

The hand-cranked extractor works like a centrifuge.  You load up 2 frames at a time and spin them around to get the honey flowing out.  Honey comes out of a faucet and pours down through a strainer into the collecting basin.  Yum!

Before loading the frames, we cut off the wax cappings using a pronged fork or a hot blade.  We saved the wax for making candles. 

Eating honey as we go... makes for a giddy time!  I personally ate so much honey.  I think Josh did too :D  Dawn brought popcorn to make our favorite bee team snack (BEE CORN!)  While we were at it we sang songs with the word "honey" in them (Dawn definitely wins at this game) and invented our own when our sources ran dry.  So, all in all it was a good time for everyone.  Hope you can join us next year!

Mead-Making with Aubrey Yarbrough

Posted by Hannah Safford on May 17, 2011 at 1:13 PM Comments comments (1)

This is a belated post that I should have gotten to a month ago when we actually made the mead (anagram, btw...), but I'm getting to it now that we have an update on how our mead is progressing.

We had a great turn-out for our mead-making event: some 20 people showed up to the 2-Dickinson co-op to hear local farmer, brewer, and BEE team friend Aubrey Yarbrough talk about mead-making and brewing in general.

For those of you who don't know, mead is wine made from honey rather than grape juice. Aubrey taught us that basically, you can make alcohol from anything--all you have to do is heat it up, mix it with some water, add yeast and a starter nutrient (often a heat-killed solution of other yeast), and then let it sit as the yeast first grow on the starter nutrient, then digest the sugar molecules in your base into alcohol. The product of this process is also responsible for the carbonation in beer--brewers often add a little extra yeast at the very end of the fermentation process to make sure the final product is fully carbonated.

After a month, our mead has finally stopped fermenting. Aubrey strained out the spent yeast cells and transferred the mead from the primary fermentation vessel to a secondary container. She took a taste along the way and reported that the mead was:

"Sharp and a little acidic, but the lingering aftertaste was smooth honey!"

We'll be bottling in the fall. Go to our photos page for pictures of the mead-making that are up now, and keep checking back for pictures of the mead as it looks now and once we bottle in the fall!

Honey Cook-Out

Posted by Hannah Safford on November 20, 2010 at 4:51 PM Comments comments (0)

Honey, Scrabble, Guitars

by Emilly Zhu, Guest Contributor

First food-centered beekeeping event (which explains my presence :))! Baklava (alternate pronounciations include bakLAva, and baklaVA...sorry about the lack of International Phoentic Alphabet) is perhaps the best thing ever. Guitar-shaped honey cake with a cocoa finish is also nothing to "fret" over (the creator of that particular pun should perhaps be "strung" up...)

But I digress. As I walked into 2D, the warm smell of honey cake met my nose. But the cheery Scrabble game that had just begun drew me towards the dining area like a bee towards honey. Wages, Story, tiles in the meantime, however were eepuqon. Eopque? quope? No.

Thankfully, the baklava and cake were taken out of the oven during my turn, inciting a mad rush to the kitchen. The bundt cake and guitar perfection called for a Kodak moment. For me however, it was time to eat the honey treats. Which were quite effective, because after 3 pieces of baklava and outside help, I could play porn (on the scrabble board...). Which brought a drone of porn related phrases. Popoporn and Potpourri porn were perhaps the most memorable. Scrabble should perhaps expand to 101 tiles and have 3 p's so people can spell popoporn.

Scrabble proceeded as normal as possible after porn, punctuated by more batches of completed honey cake. After some time though, we all migrated to the kitchen area, forgetting, on the most part about the Scrabble game. Which is fine, because punny discussions of bees and guitars were far more humourous, and gave me a new perspective on true punstruments. 

The Wickerman

Posted by Hannah Safford on November 6, 2010 at 2:03 PM Comments comments (5)

We had our first non-hive visit event on Thursday, entertaining all the BEE Team members who hung around Princeton over fall break. We watched the 2006 remake of the cult classic "The Wickerman," and had a long discussion about the film after showing it--because none of us understood what the heck was going on. Here's the movie in a nutshell:

Nicolas Cage is a cop. Shocking. He sees a little girl die in a car accident. He then gets an unpostmarked (sketchy, Nic, don't you think?) envelope from his ex telling him to come to her home on Summers Isle and help her find her missing daughter. Nicolas Cage agrees. There are lots of women on the island, of varying degrees of creepiness. Nicolas Cage antagonizes them all, seemingly oblivious to their creepiness. There are lots of random references to bees and beekeeping. Nicolas Cage learns that the girl is his daughter, and she's going to be sacrificed to ensure a good crop of honey the following year. Nicolas Cage dons a bear suit to save her, but discovers that the whole thing was a hoax and that he is actually the sacrifice. Nicolas Cage gets burned inside a giant wicker effigy, and the movie ends.

Why the car accident? Why the bear suit? Why did Nicolas Cage agree to do this movie? After intense thought, we came up with few satisfactory answers. We did, however, enjoy our movie snack--popcorn drizzled with honey and salt, or, as we like to call it, bee-corn! (get it? not acorn, but bee-corn?)  It's the new official snack of the BEE Team. Come to more of our events, and you might get to sample some too!

Our next events are this Friday, November 12th. Seth Belson, President of the New Jersey Beekeepers' Association, will be giving a talk from 2:30-4:00 in Campus Club. Then at 9 pm, the BEE Team will be helping run the annual Forbes Spelling Bee, which this year features a number of beekeeping-related words on the official list, courtesy of the BEE Team. Come out and do us proud!

Second Hive Visit!

Posted by Nadirah Mansour on October 15, 2010 at 7:32 PM Comments comments (0)

Hey there,

 I’m Nadirah, a new freshman addition to the Bee Team. I’ll be poking around here, putting things here and there (Watch outfor the new book reviews that’ll be going up after midterms!). But without further adieu, let’s get to our second hive visit!

‘ It was a pleasant day at a time when pleasant days were a rarity, a ruby amidst coal.We hadn’t expectedit and many of us flung our sweaters over our shoulders, explicit symbols of frustration with the unruly weather gods. But as soon as we began our trek from the courtyard at Jadwin/Fine/McDonnell, we realized that sweaters could barely matter on a day like this. A bee day.’

Or something like that. Anyways...

 The lovely Dawn led us down to the hives,where Sarah was already working on a film project for a course she was taking (I’m crossing my fingers we can upload it to the website when its done). Suited up,then went to the yard. First order of business was checking the mite meds (AKA Apiguard): one hive seemed to be eating away at it, whereas the other didn’t; guessing it was probably a location issue, we moved it to a more accessible area within the hive.

 We checked the top two supers of each and foundto our delight some beautiful, full frames of honey. Plenty of food for the winter. Brood’s also looking good and appropriate for the season.

 But you don’t want to just hear about the logistical stuff, do you? I'll give you some juice- we did have a casualty;One bee sting to the knuckle. Wasn’t too bad and the fallen beekeeper jumped right back up, having not really fallen at all.

 In other news, we got Denis Feeney, a Classics professor, to come sometime this semester to come speak to us about bees in Virgil. Whoot Whoot! And we might be  painting the shed next week! I promise you nice hi-res pictures!

 See you next time!




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