Instar Apiaries

The purpose of this website is to share some of the amazing things that I see in my honey bee colonies. I have been keeping bees in Philadelphia since 2007. I have never treated colonies with antibiotics, miticides, or any other chemical treatment. I believe that the answer to the varroa mite problem is going to be a genetic one. That is why I have started to raise daughter queens from my strongest overwintered colonies.

Japanese Knotweed


IMG_4781-0.JPGJapanese Knotweed is a major nectar source for bees. The honey made form this plant is very dark, and has a much different taste. However it is very invasive and is often sprayed. I have been told that they way to control Knotweed is to spray while it is flowering. I don’t know if that is true (although the guy who told me seemed certain) but that would likely cause massive damage to honey bee colonies and other pollenating insects.


IMG_4776.JPGAll types of insects love to visit the flowers of the many kinds of mint. Mints are an important nectar source for bees because they flower for a long time, often while there is not much else to forage for. I’m not sure how many types of mints there are, but a good identifier is a square stem. One of my favorites is Anise Hyssop also known as licorice mint. I could spend hours watching all the activity around those long lasting blooms. You will find tiny solitary bees, a large variety of beautifully colored wasps, a wide range of flies, lots of beetles, and of course honey bees.


IMG_4774.PNGWhen I first saw this I thought it was some type of genetic abnormality, but after speaking with some more experienced beekeepers and doing a little research I believe that those little plates are part of the milkweed flower.

Crazy ‘cutout’

IMG_4327.JPGWe get a lot of calls about bees living behind the walls in someones house. The people who live here called another beekeeper a few years ago to remove a colony. After he/she removed them they (or whoever did the repairs) filled the cavity with these plastic balls. That is what needs to be done because another swarm of bees will smell that old colony and be attracted to that same location. When you fill the cavity, it needs to be completely filled. As you can see this cavity was not.