Friday, August 15, 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy...


 * TONIGHT! Tim from Boroughbees on NY1 Inside City Hall with Errol Lewis, Friday, 8/15 7pm and 10pm

* TOMORROW! Celebrate National Honey Bee Day Saturday, 8/16, approximately 11:45 with our weekly hive inspection in the Brooklyn Saint Marks Avenue Prospect Heights Community Garden at the Redwing Blackbird Hive (at St. Marks and Vanderbilt, behind Zaytoons)


*The Beekeeper  NYC film premiere featuring Boroughbees beekeepers. Wednesday, 8/20 at Anthology Film Archives (Lower East Side at 32 Second Avenue & 2nd Street) The evening program ( begins at 7:30 PM. The Beekeeper, the feature presentation, (trailer here: will screen at 9:15 PM. Tickets for the whole evening are $6 and are available at the box office the night of the screening. Filmed several summers ago, a New York City urban beekeeping documentary, screening on as part of the NewFilmmakers Summer Series.


*Urban Ecology Lecture Series at Gowanus Canal Conservancy: The Role of Honeybees and Other Pollinators in Urban Areas Wednesday, 9/10, 6:30-8pm at FIND Home Furnishing 43 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215   RSVP for free tickets here:

* NYC Honey Fest with Boroughbees observation hive and honey extraction events: Saturday, 9/13, 11am-sunset Rockaway Beach 97 (97th & Ocean) Free, daylong festival features art, food, music, film, kids’ arts and crafts, and a bee-product marketplace. Fun for the whole family, Honey Fest is a perfect way to close out the summer by spending the day at the beach.

*Gowanus Canal Conservancy Apiary Tour with Kim from Boroughbees: 9/14 11:30 AM to 12:15 PM on the Salt Lot at 2 Second Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215


*Tim from Boroughbees on WFUV Cityscape: The World of Beekeeping in NYC:

*Shelly from Boroughbees on Fiorella Eats (from Smorgasburg Food Book Fair):!Food-Book-Fair-Food-Book-Farm/c4ij/39F786DB-C8D0-4C7F-A31E-F69152CF2988

Monday, August 11, 2014

Public Extraction Pictures

We recently hosted a free public honey extraction, courtesy of the Brooklyn Kitchen, who provided the space, and additional assistance from Jim Fischer of NYC Beekeeping, who kindly lent us his motorized extractor and uncapping machine. Through their generosity, we were able to extract the honey of many community beekeepers completely free of charge! Minus a small jar of honey for my collection!

Prepping the extractor for the first load of HONEY.
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

We got there early to rinse out and set up all the equipment in the back classroom; having a real restaurant style Kitchen made a world of difference. All the honey buckets went into the industrial dishwasher and came out sparkling clean.

Beekeepers from around the city had been invited to sign up for extraction slots and began to show up almost immediately. With two separate extraction set ups, we got to work quickly uncapping the honey and getting it into the extractor.

Loading Loren's uncapped mediums into the motorized extractor. She brought quite a few helping hands!
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

The uncapper really did make an easy job compared to the knife method. Still, I never got it to work as quickly as the people in the videos! Maybe it takes practice....
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

The automatic 'sideliner' extractor is pretty cool, but works best on FAT frames that the bees have drawn out thickly. It works by rolling the frames between what look like curling irons, which press through the cappings, allowing the honey to flow out. If the frames are skinny, the wooden side bars will prevent the rollers from making good contact with the caps. When that happens, a quick scratching with the uncapping fork will take care of it.

Uncapping forks are great. I'm just gonna mention that. They're also super cheap!
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

The motorized extractor was great to have; it could empty 9 mediums in 2 or 3 mediums going full tilt. With a motor salvaged from an old washing machine, this thing packed some serious oomph and could get going at quite a clip. If the load was unbalanced, the entire thing would walk across the floor unless held in place. By me.

A way to minimize this is to snatch a wooden pallet from the street and secure the extractor to it using large screws or bolts. You can then get a lot of people to stand on the pallet and weight it down. It will still vibrate and be mildly terrifying, but it won't go flying off into the wild blue yonder.

Definitely NOT an OSHA violation.
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

Filters are slow, but effective... if you are patient.
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

Kim demoed the manual extractor and got her workout at the same time! Great!
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

The manual extractor isn't as fast, but is a bit more flexible. While the motorized machine can only take medium or shallow frames, the smaller manual extractor can take deeps, mediums, or shallows, in any combination, as long as you balance it. We noticed that the motorized model had problems with plastic frames; the side bars were too wide to fit in the guides, so they would go flying. Not a problem for the manual extractor! It took a lot longer to get the honey out, but for the people who brought honey in anything but a medium, it was the only choice.

She's a multi-tasker.
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

Honey Tasting and Sales Table
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

We also ran a honey tasting from our hives around Brooklyn. Almost all the honey was light and linden-y, although the moisture content varied significantly between our rooftop and garden hives, which affected the flavor significantly. 

Shelly, impressing the guests.
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

And impressed they were!
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

Mike brought about 36 frames of fresh linden honey. With the extractor going full tilt, it took less than an hour to process his honey from start to finish! In fact, it only took 18-20 minutes of spinning! Everything else was uncapping, prep, and clean up!

Mike, hard at work.
Photos Courtesy of Mackenzie Anne Smith.

Stay tuned for another free extraction event, coming up this weekend in Brooklyn, led by NYC Beekeeping. It won't be open for viewing by the public, but any beekeeper who has honey they need out will be able to sign up for FREE extraction slots!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Picture Dump

Been spending more time behind the camera than in front of it. Thought I would dump a few pics of what we've been up to for your viewing pleasure.

“Busy, busy, busy, is what we Bokononists whisper whenever we think of how complicated and unpredictable
the machinery of life really is.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

Olivia, inspecting.

Kim, copying.

Queen, crawling.

Worker, carrying.

Bees, festooning.

Neighbors, onlooking.

Frames, foundationless.

Ladies, curious.

Shelly, educating.

Plant, pollinating.

Nurses, caring.

Honey, dripping.

I feel like my photography has improved since I started the blog. My equipment has, at least. Wish I could say the same about my writing!


It's raining, it's pouring, the public hive inspections are canceled. 

You get the idea. No bees in the rain. Individual bees have less thermal mass than a raindrop. When a worker gets caught in the rain outside the hive, she will do her best to take shelter. If she gets wet, it is likely that she will lose so much heat that her wing muscles will cease to function. Without those muscles, she can't warm herself and she will die. 

I think there is a Death Cab For Cutie song along those lines....