Welcome To BeeHacker.Com

This site explores the confluence of beekeeping and technology. It is targeted at the amateur and professional:

  • beekeeper or bee lover
  • scientist, engineer, inventor, DIYer

The primary goal is to develop new, Open Source technologies that can benefit the honey bee and everyone else that benefits from the honey bee. Continue reading Welcome To BeeHacker.Com

Improved Metal Hive Scale

It has been very rewarding to see reader’s improvements on my original hive scale design. I recently got an email from Matthew Waddington – I’ll reproduce here since it is pretty self-explanatory.

Hi-

Yet another version of the scale!

I saw your version years ago, and was inspired by it, and came up with . . . → Read More: Improved Metal Hive Scale

Give the Gift that Gives a Buzz

Every year, my wife and I struggle to come up with a bee-related Christmas gift that we can make for family and friends.  Last year was a building year for my apiary so I did not harvest much honey. However I did have enough honey to make almost 44 bottles of Rock & Rye.

Rock & Rye was a staple of bars before the prohibition. During the prohibition, it became a staple of medicine cabinets. When I was ten years old and sick with a cold, my mother would give me a juice glass of straight up Old Mr. Boston Rock & Rye. I would drink it down, jump in bed, and sleep like a log. The rock candy (sucrose) in Rock & Rye would soothe my throat and the vitamin C from the lemon half (bobbing in the bottle) did not hurt either. The taste and recipe is similar to the favorite cocktail of Don Draper of Mad Men: the Old Fashioned.

Continue reading Give the Gift that Gives a Buzz

Foldscope & The Dream of Easy Pollen Identification

Leeuwenhoek_Microscope

Leeuwenhoek_Microscope

It would be wonderful to identify pollen in honey and from pollen gathered by bees.  You can do that with a 400x-1000x microscope for a couple of hundred dollars and some training in staining techniques. So when I heard about Foldscope – an origami microscope that fits in your pocket and costs less than 2 bucks – I was excited about the prospect of beekeepers identifying pollen in the field.

Foldscope originated out of the department of bioengineering at Stanford University. The Prakash Lab designed a low cost paper microscope that more closely resembles the original Leeuwenhoek microscope than the familiar tubular compound microscopes today.

One goal of foldscope is to provide a microscope to healthcare workers in poor countries to diagnose disease. The Prakash Lab received grants from several foundations to hand out thousands of foldscopes.  I was one among thousands of beta testers from 130 different countries to request a foldscope (the beta phase is now closed) and it arrived in an envelope several weeks later. Continue reading Foldscope & The Dream of Easy Pollen Identification

Honey Bees Have Arrived

Harrods is a retailer in London that caters to international royalty and is owned by the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar. You can buy a 12.5 Kg gold bar ‘off the shelf’.  They are so exclusive that their new owner burned his royal warrants and banned the Duke of Edinburgh from the store. So . . . → Read More: Honey Bees Have Arrived

Beekeeping in Ukraine

A conversation between beekeepers

One of the benefits of writing the BeeHacker blog is that I also get to meet interesting people from around the world. I recently started a dialog with Oleg Sadovskij, a Ukrainian beekeeper, a honey exporter, and manager of TORENT-TRADE Ltd. In Ukraine. I was curious about Ukraine because it is in the top five list of page visits by country to my blog (after US, Great Britain, France, & China). oleg

Americans have heard a lot about Ukraine in the news this year yet few realize the long history and loyal compassion Ukrainians have for honey and the honey bee. There are about 400 thousand beekeepers in Ukraine or 1 beekeeper for every 107 Ukrainians. In the US, that ratio is 1 in 1500! Ukraine is the largest producer of honey among European countries and Russia. On average, a Ukrainian consumes 2.6 lbs of honey annually – double what is consumed in the United States. In 1815 the Ukrainian Peter Prokopovich invented the movable-frame beehive though the American Langstroth discovered bee space which made his 1852 patent for movable frames much more practical. If you are a beekeeper or if you just like honey, then you will find Ukraine a very bee friendly place. Continue reading Beekeeping in Ukraine

$22 Bee Vacuum

We were recently gifted a hive from a family whose beekeeper son left for college. Having moved hives before, I figured it would be easy.  This time I was wrong:

Bees bearded up the front and back of the hive – all day long and at 5:30AM in the morning – because the bottom . . . → Read More: $22 Bee Vacuum

Best Methods for Re-liquification of Crystalized Honey

We are still months away from the 2014 honey harvest and there are a few bottles of honey left from 2013…but they have all started to crystallize. Most people know that you can re-liquify crystallized honey with warm water. I figured if warm water works, hot water will work better.  I boiled a kettle . . . → Read More: Best Methods for Re-liquification of Crystalized Honey

Improved Hive Scale

I was pleased to hear recently from Jamie Bucklin of Humboldt, California. Instead of the $16 luggage scale that I used in my hive scale, he built his scale with a $70-100 digital industrial hanging scale from American Weigh Scales.  The TL-330 is accurate to .2 lbs and weighs up to 330 lbs – . . . → Read More: Improved Hive Scale

Negative Synergy

“Scientists continue to hunt for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD”. That statement presumes that there is a single cause and not a cascade of causes.  It reflects the way we humans think – we naturally want to find the one answer, the simplest answer . If you were to mashup quotations from William of Occam (see Occams Razor) and Voltaire, you might get something like this: “If the simplest answer did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it”. Continue reading Negative Synergy

Barbarians at the Gate

robbing

Click for a full size view

It is that time of year when most of the blooms are gone. And with those blooms goes the abundance of food for bees. Being ever ambitious, honey bees are going to find dinner even if it means robbing it from a weak hive. Continue reading Barbarians at the Gate