Master Beekeeper Program

For 2013 our New Year’s resolution was to keep improving our beekeeper skills, applying for the Journeyman Level in the Washington Master Beekeeper Program.

The program has three levels: Apprentice, Journeyman and Master.

During 2013 we took classes, tests, and volunteered in many events collecting different points to meet the requirements of the Journeyman Beekeeper level.

In December 2013 we received our official certificates so we were able to fulfill 2013 New Year’s resolution right before the end of the year!

1-Journeyman certificates3

We’re looking forward to start the Master Beekeeper level now and we will apply once we meet the required experience time (two more years of beekeeping experience, so we should be taking the test in 2015).

Now it’s time to make some resolutions for 2014…


Dandelions and honey bees

They are pretty……they last long…….they are the first wild flowers we see when Spring starts, and…. they have bad reputation, because dandelions are considered weeds worldwide and they spread very easy with the help of the wind.Dandelion and bee

To change that bad reputation is important to know (and spread the notice to your good neighbors) that dandelions are our bees’ first natural pollen and nectar source after winter.

dandelion seeds

Bees will work hard in these dandelion “fields” to get the nutritious nectar and pollen that they will consume in the hives until other flowers start blooming later during Spring.


So, next Spring, when your neighbor starts showing some “cabin fever” symptoms and wants to start mowing the lawn even during a rainy day, ask him if he can wait a few weeks until your bees finish gathering their natural food …..of course it is always a good idea to give him at the same time one of your honey jars 🙂

Volunteering at the Spokane Fair

This year, the whole family volunteered once again to help sell honey for the association at the Spokane Fair. During that wonderful Saturday afternoon, we answered questions at the IEBA stand to an always curious crowd of people, sharing with them some of our own experiences as a “beekeeper family”.

Beekeeping voluntering Spokane Fair 2013

Supersedure cells


Supersedure cells are build during the process by which bees raise a new queen.

The workers will flood some cells where a larva has just emerged , with royal jelly. The worker bees then build a larger queen cell from the normal sized worker cell and it pop out vertically from the face of the brood comb.

emergency queen cell

 Bees decide to raise a new queen for different reasons, some of them are:

  • The reigning queen is too old
  • She is not laying well (as the queen ages, her pheromone output diminishes.
  • The queen is injured
  • The queen has a disease
  • The workers killed the queen

When a new queen is available, the workers will kill the reigning queen by “balling” her which means that they clustered tightly around her until she dies from overheating. 



Varroa mite


Varroa mite 2This is how a Varroa mite (aka Varroa destructor) looks like when your hive is infected with it. By clicking on the photo, it will enlarge.

The Varroa mite can only reproduce in a honey bee colony.

The  mite enters a honey bee (mostly drone) brood cell and as  soon as the cell is capped, the mite lays eggs on the larva. The young mites hatch in about the same time as the bee develops and leave the cell with the bee and spread to other bees and  larvae.

The mites suck the hemolymph of the adult honey bees, leaving open wounds and then the bees are more prone to infections.

Native Pollinators



This insect is one of many native pollinators, the famous bumblebee. It is more popularly known than other pollinators because of its “cute and fluffy” appearance.

Native pollinators are very useful in native areas for pollinating flowers that grow in their local area. They may pollinate any flower in their flight path, only pollinate certain kinds, or have a prefered flower. For example, leafcutter bees pollinate mostly alfalfa, and honey bees may pollinate it but don’t like to.

Native pollinators are quite different from each other in many ways. They vary in size, shape, color, and even speed. On top of that, different areas have different native pollinators, which gives them their name.

The Queen Cage

This is the Queen cage.


The queen goes in a Queen Cage either when you buy a bee package or when you buy a queen to requeen your hive.

The queen goes in it and is safe from any outside dangers.

If it were in a bee package, the bees would want to kill her because that queen isn’t from their hive.

There will be some attendant bees with the queen to help her while shipping.


Queen Cells

queen cell for blog


Queen cells are peanut-shaped cells made by honey bees only for a queen bee to emerge out of. These cells do not end up sealed in a hexagonal fashion like that of workers and drones.

Instead, a queen lays an ordinary worker egg in a queen cup if intentionally breeding a queen or an ordinary worker cell. Then, workers will continually feed large amounts of royal jelly – this is what makes the queen develop reproductive organs and a larger abdomen than workers.

Three days after this egg has been laid, it goes into the larvae stage. After five days of feeding, the workers seal the cell and the larvae spins a cocoon around its body. In the cocoon, it turns into a pupae. It will stay in this stage for eight days, during which it develops hair, eyes, wings, and legs.

Encaustic painting

Flight of the Condor
Flight of the Condor

The word “Encaustic” means “to burn in” and the technique consists in painting with beeswax mixed with pigments and fixed with heat after its application.

This technique is one of the world’s oldest art forms and was first practiced by Greeks 500 years B.C.

I started painting with beeswax in 2010 and from the first day on, I could not stop making all kind of greeting cards and paintings of different sizes.

Below are some examples of my encaustic paintings. If you like to have more information, please click here.

Purple land
Purple land
Curtain of light
Curtain of light