Two Sisters and a Hive Tool

I can proudly say, that GiGi and I made it through our month of Beekeeping 101 (and without stings, if you can believe it). It’s been a wonderful month and I am still reeling from what we have learned from this class. I think we are more than ready to put our bees in this coming Spring.

I feel so accomplished!

this is what our hive will look like
see the guard bees protecting the entrance?

Our final class was great! We got to play in the beeyard and open up several hives. We even assisted in the switching of one weaker hive to a better location. Class ended with a great chat over a honey tasting. We were able to try Nina’s Wildflower honey from the Franklin Park Conservatory, as well as Buckwheat, Orange Blossom, Blueberry, Basswood and Clover Honeys.

It was a sweet and unexpected treat!

bees on a frame

GiGi holds a Queen cage
A new Queen and her attendants

all types of honey

We have a lot to plan for before next spring!

Beekeeping can be a wonderful hobby, and I’m certain the “backyard beekeepers” are helping the bee population thrive. However, it can be quite an expense to get started. In the next 6 months we will have to save up for the hives, (we would like to start with 2 and hope to eventually make splits from those) and of course, we will have to purchase bees and a queen for each hive. Thankfully, we have made contacts with Nina and the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association (COBA, find the group on Facebook) to make that happen! We are lucky that we have already purchased our gear, the very attractive pith hats and gloves… and I can’t forget to highlight GiGi’s beautiful white jeans (also, you owe me money).

And we have a hive tool!

GiGi holds a frame of bees

In the meantime, we will volunteer at the Franklin Park Conservatory, and learn to help those hives get through the Winter.  We hope to gather as much information before our own hives go in next year!

A BIG HUGE thank you to Nina for hosting the class ad being such an amazing instructor! We really enjoyed it, and look forward to working with you again!

One more note that I forgot to add… If you are willing to help, please sign this petition to help  Save the Bees!!

Bee Happy!

xoxo Madame W

GiGi’s Book Review: A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping by Cam and Mr. Combover

It’s been awhile since I have had a chance to update and I can say that I am still starry-eyed about our first beekeeping class. But I won’t gush about it now since you can see all of the awesome pictures my sister took here. Instead I’ll be giving a little book review about one of my more recently acquired apiary information books.

photo courtesy

Madam W. and I first stumbled upon Cam and Mr. Combover’s blog,, not too long after creating our own and I have been a follower ever since.  Their writing is to the point with a lot of photos of their process and their videos are both informative and often (although I think unintentionally) hilarious. Not many men would get stung by a bee on camera and then willingly post that video for the entire digital world to see. And, hey, who doesn’t like a blog with a bee pun in its name? I know I sure do… So, I went ahead and got an early release of their book A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping.

courtesy of and Suzi Kemp

The first and most striking feature of the book that I noticed was the illustration work. The illustrator, Suzi Kemp’s, hit-it-and-quit-it style is reminiscent of 80’s punk art à la Raymond Pettibon. Just simple heavy line work with pops of color. But I can’t lie that I might be partial to her work since my own style of illustration shares similarities with her style. You can see more of her work here. But I must admit that, although I understand printing in grayscale is more cost effective, I wish the pages of illustration in the book could have been printed in color. I think the lack of color takes away from the aesthetics of Kemp’s work.

The content of the book itself is laid out in five easy to navigate and reader friendly chapters beginning with the basic “Learn About Bees” and ending with the final “Harvesting Your Honey” chapter. The writing is very straightforward and easy to understand, breaking each chapter down into simple steps. I personally enjoy that, every so often, you get little tidbits like “Did You Know” facts on the bottom of certain pages and meta-chapters like “Facts You Didn’t Know About Bees,” “The Fashion of Beekeeping,” and “Why Beekeepers Don’t Eat Bananas,” each little aside with it’s own quirky illustration. If you’ve ever read other books about beekeeping you will understand that it can get rather tedious to read all of the bee information endlessly, so I like that these humorous little side chapters pop up to break up the uniformity. And I really liked reading about their personal trials and tribulations that they experienced while beekeeping, such as the fact that no one explains to you that after you steal the honey from the bees they will be furious and sting you, which gives the book a much more accessible blog-style appeal. Also, considering a previous post of my own, I truly appreciated the aside chapter they wrote “Thoughts About Colony Collapse Disorder.” As stated before, it’s a very real and serious occurrence and something everyone should know is happening.

courtesy of and Suzi Kemp

This is definitely one of the more entertaining beekeeping books I have had the pleasure of reading recently (and I have read quite a few as of late, more book reviews in the future mayhaps?). Although, as the title states, A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping is just that- a survival guide. It’s something short and basic that you can turn to in a pinch or if you would like to explore apiculture but not get into the thoroughgoing details. I wouldn’t call it the end-all-be-all of beekeeping books, and even the writers themselves mention several times how they took beekeeping classes and studied about apiaries beforehand. So, I would say this is an easy starting point for the novice beekeeper, such as myself, but I would recommend not bypassing classes or further reading if you want to seriously consider being an apiarist. Besides, I’ve never heard anyone say that knowing too much about something that could very well kill you is a bad thing.

You can purchase your very own amazing copy of A Survival Guide to Urban Beekeeping by Cam and Mr. Combover HERE.

Looking forward to my next beekeeping class tomorrow! Check back soon!

Best wishes,


Beekeeping 101

Our first class went well, amazing, in fact. It was so much more than either of us could have expected from a first lesson. The class was intimate, (about 10 people from all walks of life and ages) and our instructor, Nina, is a peach. Not only is she wealth of knowledge on the subject, she also breeds queens… not to mention, she’s funny as hell. Remember when I asked if we would go into the apiary today? Well, I don’t think Nina had intended to on our first lesson, but we were all eager to jump right in! I have to admit that I was a little shaky when we first approached the fenced in apiary, but I managed to cool off and get some great pictures while we learned.

Nina has offered to help us with whatever we need, including getting us started with a nuc (a half box with frames, bees and a queen). We hope she will be interested in being a kind of mentor on our journey, like our spirit  guide.

Check out what we did today, and sting-free so far!

opening the first hive, this was the more “docile” of the group

this is a 10-frame hive
there are six hives in the Franklin Park Conservatory Apiary

removing the frames to spot the queen

the best way to learn is to get right in there!

This is going to be a great month!

Love, Madame W


The day has finally come… our first Beekeeping Class with  Franklin Park Conservatory is this evening

For the last week I’ve gone from nervous and anxious, to just plain old excited! I don’t know what we can expect from our first two-hour long class, but I know that this will be an amazing month! We’ve spent the last few weeks researching anything bee-related that we can get our hands on, and I think we’ve learned a lot so far. I realize that nothing can compare to getting in there and doing it ourselves.

They won’t throw us into the apiary on the first day, will they? I can’t wait to tell you what happens after tonight!

Keep BEElieving… and wish us luck!

Love, Madam W.

Can you help Save the Bees?

image courtesy of GiGi

Short answer, YES!

In light of the not so recent  Monsanto Scandal, and the decrease of the bee population as a whole, we should be doing our part to make sure bees get a fighting chance. Here are a few things that we ALL could do to help our bees, so listen up!

Plant Things: If you have a yard, some space, or even a few pots… put some flowers in them, or pant a few vegetables if you can. If you increase the amount of pollen, you increase the bees productivity, which creates more bees. Plus, variety is the spice of life, so give the bees lots of different options. How fun would it be to flower bomb an area in your neighborhood? Just take a trip down to your local home and garden store and get a few seed packets, that’s all you need to start!

Go Organic: Once you have your flowers/gardens in, try a completely organic route. There’s no question that chemicals and pesticides kills bees (and other helpful insects, animals… and are generally not that great for you either). There are many ways that you can avoid nasty chemicals in your gardens. You could try this or go here or take a look here for some tips to get you started.

Buy Honey: There has to be a local farmer out there selling honey at your farmer’s market. Get some! Beekeeping seems to be catching on as a fun and important hobby. The more we support local bee farmers, the more we help out the bee population. Plus, we already saw the delightful ways honey can help you in GiGi’s last post. Try some of them out and let us know what you think!

Don’t BEE Afraid: See what I did there? All joking aside, we know that bees sting and that it hurts, but there is no reason to be afraid of them (unless, you are very allergic, then by all means). Spread the word about how great bees are and what they do for all of us!  And maybe some day you can tell people how great the honey was that you bought from those two awesome (crazy?) beekeeping sisters!

We want to know what you are doing to help Save the Bees, so report back!


Madame W

On honey and its abilities to cure what ails you

As the unruly weather in the Midwest dramatically changes seasons it seems I have, once again, become very ill. So while everyone else seems to be out celebrating Cinco de Mayo/The Kentucky Derby/The rise of the “Super Moon,” I find myself lying on the couch with a cat and a pug, watching television premiers of absolutely terrible movies.

I did manage to make it to a clinic though, but they couldn’t come up with a cure and considering my awful history with antibiotics -that once led to a night in the hospital- they were not willing to readily prescribe medications. What they did offer were a few suggestions to help me recover, including drinking lots of tea with a heaping tablespoonful of (all things) honey! You always hear about using honey for sore throats but it was the first time I had a doctor prescribe it to me.

This got me thinking, “I wonder if you can use honey for other home remedies to aid everyday ailments?” and what I found was a surprising list of uses for honey. So, I thought I’d share a few:

Use honey as a moisturizer. Add a tablespoon of liquid honey to a bottle of lotion. Sweet and soft!

Use honey as a face wash. Honey is a natural antimicrobial which makes it great for fighting breakouts and is gentler on your skin than hard chemical facewashes. Just take a glob of honey and add it to warm water, then scrub it on your face. It can also help relieve psoriasis and fungal skin infections like ring worm.

Use honey as a natural Neosporin. Honey is a natural antiseptic and good for your skin too.

Use honey to embalm a loved one. Ancient Egyptians used honey as an embalming agent before mummifying the dead.

Use honey to relieve allergies. The thought on how this works is that honey contains small remnants of pollen- every time you ingest local honey, you expose you body to the local allergens that cause you to suffer. It’s like a flu shot, but less painful!

Use honey to recover after a workout/a hard night of drinking. Honey has natural electrolytes in it so any time you are feeling a little low on energy, have some honey and it can give you a boost.

Use honey to prepare for 2012. Honey is the only food that won’t “go bad”  (well, honey and maybe Twinkies). It might crystallize over time but running the bottle under hot water will make it liquify again. This makes it a perfect food for that upcoming society-eradicating apocalypse.

Use honey to make your everyday life more awesome. Just eat it. And if you buy it from a local farmer I promise your life will be even more awesome.


I hope you enjoy your holiday, whatever it might be that you celebrate today. As for me, I’ll be on the couch with a Hot Toddy.



(Special note: I would like to state that I (1.) am not an expert and (2.) would not recommend using any of these treatments on children without research)

When it comes to bees- why their stings are the least of my worries

About a week ago I got a text message at work:

“Have you ever been stung by a bee?”

It was from my older sister, Madame W. I tell her that, no, I haven’t been stung by a bee, per se, but I’ve been stung plenty of times by Yellow Jackets and Wasps.

“Ok. Just wanted to see if you were allergic.”

These were those fateful first words that catapult her and I into our grand experiment of reading books about beekeeping, signing up for classes, and trying to get everything we need to start our own apiary. And just yesterday she finally revealed our grand scheme to all of her friends.

“Great. Don’t get stung!” Seemed to be the sensible reaction. But when I thought about bees, their stingers became the least of my worries.

In early 2007, news outlets around the world began reporting the drastic decline of the bee population. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), it is when a beehive mysteriously falls apart despite the fact that nearly the entire order of the hive was as it should be.

If this is not even slightly alarming to you, it should be.

According to the US Department of Agriculture,  of the human diet is made up of crops from insect-pollinated plants, of those crops nearly 80% of that pollination is done by the honeybee. That means that about 2 out of 3 produce products you have in your fridge/tossed into your lunch bag/shoved into your mouth is the result of bees.

What caused this disease amongst our winged insect friends? Quite honestly, a few things, including possible fungi and maybe even cellphone reception. But a large contributing factor has been linked to pesticides and insecticides that can transfer to the flowers and nectar of plants. The EPA has approved the motion to use mass quantities of chemicals on our produce supply because the amount in the pollen was not enough to actually kill the bees but, unforeseen by capitalism, it has resulted in some dire events. A leading bee research firm, Beeologics (we love the “bee” pun… who knows why…), recently pointed the finger to the company Monsanto and their pesticides and genetically modified crops (GMOs) for being the culprit.

Don’t know Monsanto?

This is the company that has become famous for taking the potato, decimating the boundaries of evolution, spitting  in the eye of a higher power (if that’s your thing), and creating an unholy union between the potato and a bacteria so that the potato can produce its own pesticide to ward off insects. And you then get to ingest that pesticide. Don’t worry it’s safe... Or how about when thousands of farmers in India committed suicide after using Monsanto’s failed genetically modified crops. In light of these facts, it becomes little wonder that Monsanto won Natural Society’s Worst Company of 2011 Award.

So, when Beeologics pointed the finger at Monsanto, Monsanto did the most sensible and responsible action for a large corporation to do. It bought them out.

If you are not totally freaked out right now, you should be.

The result of this complete control over the top honeybee research should be obvious given this company’s recent history- Monsanto will either profit off of some sort of new and most likely just as awful chemical solution or just dig a hole, drop this mess in, and then turn around and bury it. Bees be damned.

So, what does this tirade of mine boil down to? That when I think about bees, I’m not afraid of being stung, I’m afraid that there will be no more bees around to sting me.

My own personal goal from this experiment and this blog isn’t just being able to start a new fun hobby with my sister, or capture a great picture of her running and squealing as a bee chases her (this is very likely), or even document the possible probably bee stings we’ll suffer. I hope with this new hobby and this new blog to interest, excite, and spark readers to take on their own beehive, or even plant their own organic garden. To learn that you don’t have to be an unwashed hippy (or hipster) to take control over what you eat and how it is grown.

And maybe we’ll help save the bees too.

Best wishes,

From Dream to Reality

So, here we are… the very first post of the Beelievers. We are two sisters seeking a summer adventure and are here to document what we hope will be a exciting new hobby.

We’re talking Beekeeping here folks!

This idea just came to life a few short weeks ago. It became a spark, which has quickly set fire, and now we are just rolling along with it. We hope that as very novice beekeepers we can take you along the steps we have set- to conquer our goal of starting a hive and eventually harvesting local, organic honey. It’s a lofty endeavor, (and we are a little intimidated, mostly of getting stung) but so excited to learn!

In just a couple of weeks we have learned so much about these amazing little creatures. Not only can they make honey, (delicious) but they are important to a thriving ecosystem. Also, bees are just plain awesome!

So, we have ordered some books and signed up for a class…. and away we fly!

Wish us luck
-Madame W.