Top Bar ApiRevolution has begun! Lets make some inexpensive Top Bar Hives and let them be pesticide free on their own natural comb! Che Guebee is a rebel bee fighting for the survival of the Biodiversity we all depend on and which is seriously endangered by deforestation and mono-crop agriculture! What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?
I met Patrick several weeks ago. He is the first Top Bar Hive beekeeper I ever met in person and he lives only a few miles away from where i study self-sufficient householding. What a concidence since Top Bar beekeeping is not popular in Sweden and there is just a handful of beeks practicing it at this time. I made sure to pay him a visit and thats what I did today. He keeps the Nordic Black Bee. His farm is high up on a hill facing south and the view is awesome. The whole area is pure woodland. Dream land for a bee colony. He kept bees in top bar hives for 4 years now with great success.
Patrick uses duvet as winter insulation with good results :)
two beautiful Kenya Top Bar Hives coated in Linseed Oil and Wax.
I decided to take out all the empty comb and move the follower board closer to the bee cluster. One hive has 8 full combs the other 10. I am still feeding with sugar syrup via Jar Feeder which is behind the follower board. The bees dont eat it that fast anymore.
I have built 2 Kenya Top Bar Hives for the school of Self-sufficient Householding in Sweden and am taking care of them. I have removed a few emprty combs from the back of the hive so to move the follower board closer to the cluster which will contain the warmth much better.
One of the combs cought my eye. The cells on the left side of the comb were small and the cells on the right side were large. After measuring them I figured out the right were Drone Cells and the left one ranged from approx. 4.8 to 5.2 mm I have not measured this carefully but it was obvious that the cells on one single comb were of many different sizes (unlike wax foundation) and it was amazing to see how the bees decided to place the Drone cells to the West side of the hive and the Worker Cells to the East. Does this mean anything? Doesnt matter. What matters is that bees can decide what is best for them at any given time and build accordingly.
Here are the shots of the same comb and the same side of the comb (the comb is dark because of the mould);
A third of UK bee colonies have been lost over the last two years and there have been many explanations given for this. There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids – a class of pesticide first used in agriculture in the mid 1990s at exactly the time when mass bee disappearances started occurring – are involved in the deaths. The evidence against these chemicals is strong enough that they have been banned or suspended in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – but not yet in the UK.
Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by blocking specific neural pathways in insects’ central nervous systems. The chemicals impair bees’ communication, homing and foraging ability, flight activity, ability to discriminate by smell, learning, and immune systems – all of which have an impact on bees’ ability to survive.
It seems bees genetic make up makes them particularly vulnerable to neonicotinoids. Recent mapping of the bee genome has revealed that bees’ capacity to detoxify chemicals is much lower than other insects. Instead bees have two strategies to protect themselves. On the first day of foraging in a new area, scout bees are sent out first to taste the nectar and pollens – if any are adversely affected they will be expelled from the hive immediately, and the colony will avoid the area.
In addition, once foraging begins, nurse bees in the hive clean foragers each time they return. These strategies protect the colony from mass exposure to lethal doses of chemicals, but they do leave honey bees particularly susceptible to sub-lethal exposures to any contaminants they encounter.
The other really important factor is the complex behaviour of honeybee colonies. For example, the 10,000 forager bees in a typical hive need to co-ordinate their quest for nectar – and they do this through the famed ‘waggle dance’, which communicates the flight direction and distance to sources of nectar. The complexity and precision of these dances is breathtaking, and success relies on the integrity of a nervous system where each synapse is crucial. It is no surprise then that honey bees have been shown to have a higher number of neurological receptors than other insects.
Honey bees live and work as a colony, not as individuals; what seems to be happening is that the cumulative impact of small doses of nenoicotinoids on thousands of bees over time is affecting individual bee’s ability to work and communicate effectively as part of a colony. Because lots of bees in each colony are behaving sub-optimally this can lead to the sudden, and devastating, outcomes that we’ve been witnessing in recent years.
My wife and i started removing the trees i cut down the other day. As mentioned earlier I will establish my apiary here in front of the white shed. I have built 3 hives based on top bar beekeeping. I will be buying 2 families of Elgon Bees bred by the known Swedish beekeeper Erik Österlund. He told me his bees have regressed to the 4.9mm cell size several years ago. This is good news. I am willing to start keeping bees which are able to fight Varroa on their own. Small Cell is not bullet proof but helps alot. It takes several years to get bees regress from the conventional 5.4mm cell size. I dont think i am willing to wait that long hence buying Elgon Bees from Erik.
By the way, my dog friend Bailey also helped ... digging a hole ;)
There is so much algae on our summer house and some timber is starting to rot I would say. A little bit of investigation made the obvious even more obvious ... the house is surrounded by tall trees and bushes which are casting a heavy shadow on it. The trees make it less aerated also so lots and lots of wet wet wet conditions to rot the timber. I decided its time for some action and this is what I did:
On this photo you can clearly see algaae growing on planks
Excuse the bad photo quality. I just made a fast photo not being aware that I shook the camera. Any way, it will serve the purpose for Before and After image :) So, this is Before I went in with a saw and ax ...
... lots of sweating ... ah uh puh ... and this shot is the After math. A beautiful open sky :) ah I can breath now.
I was surprised at how much there was to cut down ... lots of timber for winter I guess ;) It will take me ages to chop this by hand ... well I have all winter for it. All must go away from this spot since in May next year this plot is to be my very first private Apiary :) which is another reason for cutting down the sun barrier. Our summer house is on the North side of a small hill so South Sun is something we really need to let in.
At the end of this working day a well deserved organic beer while enjoying the new open view :) Cheers