Cozy Bee Project


Welcome to the Cozy Bee Project! This is the home base for people who want to know how the reasearch is progressing and what’s going on with our bees. If you’re new, click “about” in the header above to learn more about the project. You can receive regular updates about the Cozy Bee Project and the latest beekeeping news, by email or RSS, by registering as a user and then signing up for notifications. Select the “beekeeping” category. And don’t worry, I won’t spam you or sell your address to the badguys.

Latest Beekeeping News

  • Hive data is in April 23, 2017

    Greetings, fellow bee enthusiasts!

    Spring is here, and the bees have awoken from their long winter’s nap. April 1 was the official end for the data recording period for the Cozy Bee Project, and I have pulled all the data sensors and uploaded the tiny bits and bytes that will hopefully tell us something useful about hive roof design and overall bee health.  I have some great news to report, as well: our bees did really well from a survival standpoint! Nationally, beekeepers lose about a third of their bees every winter- a staggering amount of damage, due to a complicated set of physiological and environmental challenges that have become increasingly worse since the 1980s. The Bee Informed Partnership does valuable work in collecting survival data, and you can see a cool graphic about it here.

    We, however, only lost two hives out of the 16 we started with! That’s fantastically good, and well within sustainable limits. The survivors look very healthy, and I imagine there will be enough bees to split in only a few weeks, bringing our total colonies back up to 16 and beyond.

    There is some bad news as well, though. Of the 18 sensors that were recording data, we had a disappointingly high failure rate. Eight of them (nearly half) reported partial or no data due to technical malfunctions. That is super aggravating for me. Luckily, that was half the reason to test multiple copies of the same hive configuration, so we will still have presentable findings once I’ve crunched the numbers; they just won’t be as statistically solid as I would have preferred. Now all I have to do is make sense of the approximately 180,000 numbers in my database.  😛

    Before I leave you, though, I’d like to tell you the stories of the various colonies that participated in the survey. Look for yours below: 

    The Bzzzy-Beetles: Gravel Creek apiary. Sadly, they did not survive the winter. They were plagued by high varroa mite levels despite treatment, and autopsy revealed that’s what eventually killed them. Before they did so, however, they produced more honey than anyone else (105 pounds!)

    Carla Maria: Gravel Creek apiary. They also produced a lot of honey, at 90 pounds. They overwintered just fine, but their sensor failed, so their participation in the study will be limited to disease and mite levels.

    Hoosier Queen: Foley Creek apiary. Much like Carla Maria, their sensor failed but they did just fine over the winter. They got off to a slow start last fall, though, and didn’t produce any honey.

    Bruening’s Buzzers: Foley Creek apiary. A solid study colony, they produced an average amount of honey (60 pounds), did fine over winter, and reported average mite levels.

    Whimsey: Gravel Creek apiary. Failed sensor. No honey, but hey, they survived, so what more could you ask for? They look healthy now and I am sure they will be a great producer in 2017.

    Moore Honey!: Gravel Creek apiary. Despite their ambitious name, they too failed to produce honey. What they DID produce, though, was a lot of nosema disease… ten times anyone else. Despite that, they too survived and look pretty strong now. Their sensor failed, too.

    Lincoln City: Gravel Creek apiary. No honey, but some of the lowest varroa mite loads of anyone. Healthy now. Unfortunately, their sensor failed.

    Planet of the Apiaries: Gravel Creek apiary. Not just an awesome name; thees guys are one of two colonies that survived the Great Flood of 2015, so they are already heroes in my book. Not only that, but they produced honey (30 pounds), reported super low mite loads (2%), and their data logger actually worked. Yay bees!

    el Daddo: Gravel Creek Apiary. A fairly health colony with midrange honey production. Unfortunately, their sensor failed too, so I don’t have any remperature and humidity data for them. I can’t wait to see what they do next year.

    Honey’s Home: Foley Creek apiary. The other survivor of the Great Flood of 2015, they had the lowest pre-treatment mite loads of anyone (1%) and gave a full winter’s worth of sensor data too. Too bad they didn’t make any surplus honey, but there’s always next year.

    Cousin Ruth: Foley Creek apiary. Healthy colony with low mite numbers. Honey yield was low (15 pounds) but they are a new colony, so that’s to be expected. Failed sensor.

    Pattee’s Bees: Gravel Creek apiary. These buzzers did just fine, despite a pretty high mite load. Some guys can just work with what they have, right? They made 30 pound of honey, and provided a full winter of data, so  they get an A in my book.

    Octavia Place: Gravel Creek apiary. Big honey producer (60 pounds) despite big mite loads. Full data set, too. Winner!

    PapaJoe’zzz Cubbees (#WeAreGood): Foley Creek apiary. A new colony, no honey. But they overwintered fine and gave the full data set. Also if interests is that they had a pretty high mite load (10%) but responded really well to treatment, and went into the winter with no mites reportable. I imagine they will do pretty well in the coming season.

    The Bees Knees: Foley Creek apiary: Much like the previous bees, a new colony with no honey production, but healthy and strong through the winter, giving a solid data set for temperature and humidity. Bees like this are carrying the research. Thanks, bees!

    I hope that was entertaining. I’m excited to get into the analysis part of the research, so I’ll keep you posted as things develop. May your spring be warm and filled with bees.

Beekeeping News Archives

  • Hive data is in April 23, 2017 Greetings, fellow bee enthusiasts! Spring is here, and the bees have awoken from their long winter’s nap. April 1 was the official end for the data recording period for the Cozy Bee Project, and I have pulled all the data sensors and uploaded the tiny bits and bytes that will hopefully tell us something useful about ...
  • Journeyman Beekeeper June 19, 2016 As you probably know if  you’ve been following this for any amount if time, I’m a beekeeper. I got into it right after returning from Peace Corps in 2010, and almost immediately I joined the Oregon Master Beekeeper program. It’s a great program: at the Apprentice level, they hook you up with a mentor to help ...
  • Growing things June 7, 2016 WARNING! REALLY LONG POST! Despite the protracted radio silence, things are still growing at the Gravel Creek Homestead. In fact, they are growing better than ever before. Let me take you on a tour of what we have going right now. Where to start? How about bees! The beekeeping season is well under way, and the little guys ...
  • Disaster strikes- again January 17, 2016 Hello all! Sorry it’s been so long since I posted. Something bad happened, and to be honest, I’ve been too bummed out to deal with blogging about it until now. Depending on which news source you watch, you may have seen that we were hit by a  Biblical Flood in mid December. Thankfully, our house is pretty high ...
  • A close call November 7, 2015 Almost a year ago today, I had the biggest bee disaster of my life: a bear attacked my apiary, killing 7 colonies. It was a sad a dramatic day I will never forget. This November, though, my luck seems to have changed. During a freak lighting storm a few days ago, a bolt struck a ...
  • Varroa sampling accuracy October 24, 2015 First, a little backstory. There has been a problem in beekeeping since the 1980s, causing massive bee die-offs and (back then) prompting fears that bees would go extinct. It’s a parasite by the biological name Varroa destructor, or simply “varroa”.  If the name wasn’t a clue as to what is does, it’s a parasite that lives on ...
  • Cozy Bee Gifts are on the move October 18, 2015 Good news! For all of you who supported the Cozy Bee Project, the thank-you gifts are on the move. We’ll be sending out stickers, lip balm, and two different flavors of honey to folks all over the country, and candles will be following in a month or two. It’s the best way that the bees and ...
  • 2015 honey production stats October 11, 2015 Honey extraction is done. Whew! That’s a lot of work. I guess I shouldn’t complain, though- it’s the beez that are doing most of the hard part. This year was very productive, by coastal standards, and I averaged 31.1 pounds of honey per colony. That’s up from last year’s 25.9, and in line with the accepted ...
  • Honey harvest- GO! September 15, 2015 … and the other reason I’ve not been chatty lately is that the honey harvest is on. It takes more and more time each year, for a few reasons: I have more and more hives each year. Right now, I have almost 20. The colonies inside them are becoming more mature, and able to gather and store more ...
  • Bees are busy, and so am I June 20, 2015 It’s mid june, and the blackberries are in full bloom weeks ahead of schedule- as might be expected with the way this strange, early year is turning out. I had 7 or 8 swarm calls before May even started (!) and the major honeyflow of the year is already on. Normally, this would be nothing ...

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