Natural Beekeeping

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?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy to have not developed the habit

I read how many beekeepers which have kept bees in frame hives have problems with handling the fragile top bar comb. They have developed a habit of handling the comb strenghtened by the frame, wire and wax foundation which is not the case in top bar hives were comb hangs freely from a top bar.

Frame hive beeks find it problematic that bees fasten the top bar comb to the sides of the hive. Such brace comb must be detected and cut before managing the top bar comb. Such comb management needs patiance and frame hive beeks have developed a habit of taking out frames fairly fast not having to worry about it braking off.

Frame hive beeks find it irritating when bees start building cross comb and soon find themselves on the way back to keeping bees on wax foundations were bees have no other choice but to draw comb which includes one cell size (usually 5.4mm which is too big).

Frame hive beeks never had issues with collapsed honey comb. I hear of those who gave up top bar hives and went back to keeping bees in frame hives after just two seasons. Instead of finding the reason of comb collaps and fix it they give up into their habit of combs supported by frames.

I am happy to have never developed the habit of managing framed comb. I started keeping bees in horizontal Top Bar Hives and have developed the sensitivity for managing the free hanging comb.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our Lady of Bees

"Though located at the back of the park, the most buzz generated by any exhibit had to be Pierre Huyghe’s Untilled. On your way into this wooded area you passed piles of concrete tiles for construction, raw asphalt, aphrodisiac and psychotropic plants, and an uprooted Joseph Beuys’ oak tree, while two white Spanish greyhounds—one with a leg dipped in magenta paint—frolicked, then disappeared. In the center of it all lay Our Lady of Bees, a reclining nude that featured a beehive crawling with live bees for a head. The effect was stunning."

Read more:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Top Bar Beekeeping by Les Crowder

It aint easy starting beekeeping in Kenya Top Bar Hives in a world still filled with conventional beeks which only speak about frames and foundations. As such a new beek I found it frustrating being without a menthor. I did ask on forums but there are so many views one has to cut through. Some say this others say that ...
Any way,
I was very happy when I got this book. The best part is absolutely the visual explanation on how to manage top bar comb through many illustartions. All the combs are marked with numbers for easy explanation, one clearly see where which comb goes if doing a:
spring hive management, honey flow management, strong honey flow, combining hives, hive removal, brood nest maintenance, Queen-cell building hive, two Queen system, making a divide/split, etc ...
It does it for me since I am avery particular person and like to know exactly how things work. Les Crowder did great job with this book since I feel very comfortable to use his teaching next season. They are very clear.
Highly recommended book!
L. Crowder in his top bar hive apiary

200 Top Bar Hives Beekeeper

It is so nice to know that there is someone out there who is operating many apiaries with Top Bar Hives. 200 top bar hives for the last 25 years. And not just that but aparently treatment free. Plus the beek in question does all the work himself. He is not just a beekeeper but also a scientist and now author of a new book called "Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping:  Wisdom & Pleasure Combined"
His name is Wyatt A. Mangum and I am reasured by his exampel :)
p.s. aparently the book is only sold in the States and is very expensive to ship to Europe otherwise I would realy LOVE to order this book (some say 70 dollars)

Saturday, November 17, 2012


To be licked
For she is
Down the comb
Laying in the spiral
Cells filling
To continuously be
In the arising and passing
Of the natural
Breath of Universe

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Drum Top Bar Hive

Today I decided to rip the top bars with a hand saw and that is exactly what I did ... hrmhmm ... well I did 3 top bars that way and man its hard and time consuming. One would need a whole day or two to rip all the top bars for this hive. So I pondered what to do ... and after a while I managed to fasten my old circular saw  my new work table and this is what it looks like (BEWARE!!! circular saws are very dangerous tools);
The saw is very old and very liley needs sharpening. It went slow buts still much faster than ripping by hand. I guess its not the fact that I had to invest so much energy to rip the top bars with a hand saw but that the mind knows that there is an easier way. The mind already ripped many top bars this year on a circular table saw and it was a piece of cake. I bet 100 years ago I would not even think about it and would simply carry on ripping the top bar with a hand saw since there was no other way of doing it.
The result is satisfying. All the top bars are 38mm wide and 450mm long
Then it came time to make a follower board ... well in my case its called a follower hessian cloth ;) I have seen a few beeks using this in long hives without solid dividers just a hessian cloth. I decided to nail it to the top bar.
this side is facing the bees ...
and this side is the one opposite to the bees where the feeding station will be. To let bees get to the inverted syrup jar only lift the cloth a bit.
zoom into the conection
I did not cut the cloth to suit the round shape of the hive. Like this I get extra cloth to make it bee tight
The roof is made of some white plastic sheet I have in the garage. The sheet is screwed to the wooden frame. I placed blue insulation under the roof.
Since this hive is oval and bees are known to attach comb to the walls I will need to use a very elastic knife for detaching the brace comb with. I have a perfect one for it ;)
Now its only left to coat the hive with wax and linseed oil and to apply wax guides onto the top bars with a soldering iron. One hive ready for the next season. I will start another one tomorrow. I also need to make a few swarm traps which will also be used as nucs (8-9 frames)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cable Drum Top Bar Hive

I have recently found a dismantled wooden cable drum in a skip. So I collected it in hope to make another top bar hive. And thats what dark cold days are for ;) building a beehive.

I dont have many tools but so far all i did is the hive body and the legs. Since I have only a hand saw ripping the top bars will be done by hand. Lets see how tough that is. They will all be 38mm wide. I will have no follower board but a follower hessian cloth. The planks are 29mm thick.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cutting through the Deep Ocean of Views

If you are to ask me how did I get into beekeeping I wouldnt know what to say realy. I even said to my wife the other day "when did i get so interested in bees". I just cant remember that day ... its not as if a friend was a beekeeper and showed me around the hive and I just fell in love with the ladies, no ... this was more subtle, creeping under my skin until it reached my heart.

I do know that i've got interested in bees through researching about my new passion called Self-sufficient Homesteading.

Somehow I ended up reading The Barefoot Beekeeper by Phil Chandler and I could see myself in the near future building a Kenya Top Bar Hive. Call me psychic as it turned out i've build two only a couple of month later and kept in them two bee colonies.

What a magic experience that was! And I got stung 8 times :) how cool is that (if not alergic i guess).

And here I am today. Beeless. I left those hives to the school of Self-sufficient Householding I attended for 8 month in Sweden. I hope for next year generation to get interested in top bar beekeeping.

During this year I've read alot on beekeeping. Both books and online bee forums. The books which had great influence on me are; The Barefoot Beekeeper by P. Chandler, The Buzz About Bees by Jurgen Tautz, Top Bar Beekeeping by Les Crowder, and others.
Forums are Biobees and Bee Source.

So much I've discovered!!! There are so many great hive designs out there like Perone, Warre, Kenya Top Bar Hive, Log hives, Skeps ... and many variations on the mentioned.

I found out that there is conventional beekeeping utilising anti Varroa treatments and there are those called natural beekeepers practicing treatment freebeekeeping. Often the debate between these groups can become harsh.

Some say water spray is better than smoker, others that vertical hives are better than horizontal ones, the third say that one is to leave the bees in peace, others that often management is needed. There are those who use top entrance and those who say that top entrance is bad and advise bottom entrance.
Some love wax foundation and frames others curse them and propagate top bars instead. One takes the honey from the bees and feeds them with sugar syrup and the other claims bees are to winter on their own honey.
Some are creating ventilator hives others do condenser hives.

Im cutting through the Deep Ocean of Beekeeping Views trying to create my own begginer style. I know that my own experience will filter out whats working best for the bees in my locality but one must start somewhere, right?

DIY Hand Miter Saw

I was looking to buy a miter saw but the price was too high for my self-sufficient householder pocket so I pondered what to do.
An idea came up and I collected a few pieces of materisl from the garage and this was the result :)
hand saw, a tick wooden plank wide enough for the saw blade and a 90' deg metal piece
screw or nail the metal piece to the plank but make sure not to make it too tight for the saw
fasten the whole thing and viola, an inexpensive hand miter saw :) Dont you just LOVE DIY :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Collecting Wood Pallets

I've managed to get 4 new big pallets and 2 smaller ones. Its not only the planks that are re-used but nails also (2 nail lenghts). I will soon make a few hives out of those. The pallets are heat treated (HT) so no danger to the bees.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bee Song by Lara Conley

I am happy to have found this lovely bee song :)
Here is the link

I was looking to buy Lara Conley's bee song on iTunes but could not find her there ...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Giant Asian Hornet Invading Europe

EDIT; The video shows the Japanese Gian Hornet which is NOT the same as the Asian Hornet which invaded Europe. The Asian is a bit smaller than the European Hornet. Im glad we didnt get this Japanese one !
Read more in The Telegraph
Asian Hornet Trap and Reduced Hive Entrance leaflet
How to turn a 2 liter pop bottle into a killer wasp and hornet trap

Is my new KTBH too deep?

Now that I've placed an old comb from my "Phil Chandler size" top bar hive into this new hive which is much deeper I wonder whether the combs will collaps or not. As you can see the diference is huge. The hive is 45cm deep and 45cm wide at the top. I know the bees will attach the comb to the side of the hive but at some point I will be inspecting combs and to do so I must cut them off the wall. This will put the whole comb weight at the top bar connection.

One is sure, there will be no flipping around with this long comb ;) otherwise it sure will break.
This hive's body is adapted to the swedish hive called "Lagnormal" and is an equivalent to its two deep boxses. The idea is to let the bees have a big uninterupted brood nest. The honey will be harvested from the super which is placed on top of the bars.

Will this deep comb collaps?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Melting Top Bar Virgin Wax

I've found this pot in a second-hand shop very cheap. Its a type of a juce maker. I decided to have it for melting bees wax. This wax comes from a Top Bar Hive which means the bees built it 100% New virgin wax which I will use to make skin salve with knowing that it has no contaminants, as is the case with foundation wax sheets.
the wax is broken into pieces and placed in the upper part of the juicer ...
wax melting ...
Lovely smelling virgin wax from a top bar hive
 all whats left behind are the pupae cocoon which I threw into the compost.