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, December 31, 2012

How NOT to manage a Top Bar Hive

I would like you to see this video. This beek never learned how to properly inspect a top bar hive and as you will see he is making a few cardinal mistakes;
1. he is not brushing off the bees before tossing the comb into the bocket, killing many bees and pissing off those who survived the drop
2. he is starting to pull out top bars from the middle of the colony instead from one end.
3. he is not detaching the comb braced to the walls before pulling out the top bar comb
4. top bars in a Kenya Top Bar Hive are not spaced but are tightly fit together forming a closed roof underneath the actual roof. In his case you can see the bees gluening the top bars to the roof. As he takes off the roof some of the top bars follow with the roof braking away from the comb which later collapse causing much stress to the bees and possibly can kill the queen.
I have never seen such bucher-style-top-bar-hive-manipulation before!
Please dont follow his example!

If you want to learn how to manage Top Bar Hives go to youtube and search for OutOfaBlueSky , he makes very good educational videos on top bar hive beekeeping.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The making of Che Guebee Apiary

Welcome to my bee-less apiary ;) I placed the hives today outside just to see how they fit into their surrounding. The hives are not varnished yet so will be brough back indoors. This is just for the show and to see how much ground leveling is needed for streightening the hives.
 So far I'v got one vertical hive (which will be resized), two hTBH's, one top bar nuc and two framed hives for transporting framed nucs Im to buy in May. All nucs in Sweden come on frames.
 View from our summer house window  ...
The bees will be flying up the hill towards South-East. In this shot one can see how much ground leveling is needed to streighten the hives.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tinder Fungus as a Bee Smoker Fuel

Tinder Fungus is a very good material to use as a fuel for the bee smoker. This fungus can be found often on Birch trees especially the ones which are dying or are already rotten. Tinder Fungus burns slowly and produces fine smoke which is not hot. Once the fungus pieces stop smoking just ad more fungus to the fine embers they have made.
 Tiner Fungus
Chopping it into smaller pieces
 Gathering the equipment; The smoker, smoker insert which is made from a metal tin with many holes which are to feed the fuel with constant oxygen, tinder fungus pieces, newspapers to start the fire but dry grass can be used for this as well, and matches.
 Fill the smoker with paper and ignite it...
place the fungus pieces on top of the paper and start pumping the oxygen ...
 close the smoker and start smoking some bees ;)
 I left the smoker outside and after about 15 minutes it was still smoking. The fungus eventualy will stop smoking but it creates such fine embers which last long. It is enough to place a few more Tinder Fungus pieces into the smoker and the smoke is on again.
I will use the smoker only if Im doing a deep inspection or if dealing with a very angry colony. Otherwise I will use a water spray for quick inspections.
Just make sure not to cut your self with the ax when chopping the fungus!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping

I am very happy to have got this book for christmas! One of the rare books on treatment free beekeeping. As a novice beekeeper who is willing to follow the treatment free way, overwhelmed by the conventional beekeeping mentality which dogmaticly treat their bee colonies, I find this book very reasuring and supporting which is a BIG deal for me at this time.
Thanks to such books the honey bee might just have a chance to survive!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Learning From Bees by Phil Chandler

"Learning From Bees: a philosophy of natural beekeeping" is a collection of short essays on bees and beekeeping by the author of "The Barefoot Beekeeper" Philip Chandler.

The author's first book, The Barefoot Beekeeper, set out a challenge to the world of conventional beekeeping and offered an alternative paradigm. It soon became apparent that other people had been thinking along similar lines, and when bees were headlined month after month in the national press, following the outbreak of so-called 'colony collapse disorder' in the USA, many more people became interested in bees and what became known as the 'natural beekeeping' movement began to emerge.

Learning From Bees is a collection of short essays on bees and beekeeping, many of which are published here for the first time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Framed Beekeeping World

I feel frustrated again! As soon as I start speaking to a fellow (conventional) beekeeper about what hive I have he starts shaking his head. They usually ask what frame size do I use, and I say "None, I use top bars in a Kenya Top Bar Hive". "I should buy my self a "normal" hive with frames" they say.
Also they say that all local beekeepers "behave" and treat their bees with Oxalic Acid against Varroa every year and that I should do it too so we all can keep Varroa down. I'm afraid to even mention that Im willing my colonies to be treatment free.
Im starting to be tired of getting such replies and not having someone who is like minded. Top Bar Beekeeping is a lonely realm here in Sweden :(
And for that reason I have built two boxes with frames. Its a standard swedish hobby size frame 39x36x22cm called Low-normal. I will need them anyway when buying two colonies next year which come on 10 frames each.
I will also need these boxses if Im to sell some nucs to beeks having frame hives in the future. No one sells packages in Sweden. Of course these frames of mine will be foundationless!
If the conventional (or should i say conservative) beeks ask me now what frames do I use I can answer "Low-normal frames" without feeling alienated :) (I dont have to mention top bar hives)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Super Nuc

I continued working on the hives today and ripping a few more top bars so to cover them all. This nuc has 8 frames + 2 (the last two are the divider top bar and one empty behind it to give me comb manipulation space). I made two more dividers from hessian cloth. I've been told over at biobees that the bees will chew up and propolise the hessian cloth. I asked an old beek (30+) if he ever saw his bees chewing up the hessian cloth he puts behind his bees in the horizontal swedsih hive and he said NO. Only mice eat the hessian, or rather make a hole in it. But sure the bees will propolise it so to seal any holes which is absolutely fine with me.
This nuc hive got two supers and a metal roof. Cute! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Drum Top Bar Nucleus Hive

As you already know I have built two round top bar hives from reclaimed cable drum timber. I had some timber left so decided to make one nuc hive. It is made in the same way except the legs are shorter because I used up all the long timber.
I already started ripping top bars for these hives with my newly acquired table saw. Im happy with it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

EU Petition on Pesticides - Please Sign!

Please sign this petition on stopping neonicotinoid pesticide use in EU. We need all of your voices to save the bees!

Mitre/Table Saw for Top Bar Ripping

I found this multi table saw by accident today and it was a very good price, too good to let it go. Yes I bought it and tried to cut some top bars with it and it works good enough. This saw is not ment to rip huge planks or very long ones but short top bars go through it like knife through butter.

Rip Saw vs Crosscut Saw

I tried to rip top bars with a hand saw and it didnt work well. It was way too exhausting and took ages to do just one bar. What I didnt realise is that I used a crosscut saw to rip planks. I didnt know about this difference before.
I now bought a new rip saw and the difference between them is shown on images bellow:
Rip Saw teeth

Crosscut Saw teeth

I will update this issue as soon I try this new rip saw. I will also redesign the saw gude I made. It just isnt ergonomic. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Top Bars vs Supers

Must beekeeping cost lots of money?
If you check beekeeping shops you will notice very high price tags. I would also be put off beekeeping but thankfuly I discovered this hobby via the The Barefoot Beekeeper book which explains well that beekeeping doesn't have to cost much if at all. In my case I found that reused wood pallets can be used to build free top bar hives.
With top bar hives beekeeping becomes very relaxed because one cant loose anything in the economical sense and one can focus more on the wellbeing of the Honeybees instead. Conventional beeks have invested money and are therefore dependent on the profit made by honey production and pollination as well as selling Queens and colonies so they fall pray to using miticides and other treatments to save their money making property.
Not to mention all the space one needs to keep all the supers and extra hives, expensive honey extractors etc  ...
a massive pile of conventional bee equipment not in use, at my beekeeping menthor's farm

In top bar hives one pretty much has all one needs in the hive itself in form of top bars which are removed carefully by a long kitchen knife. In case of need for hive space reduction or expansion one is simply to move the follower board which is mobile, hence no need for extra supers.
I am glad I've chosen Top Bar Beekeeping

Che Guebee Apiary Salve

I made my very first salve from Olive oil, Spruce resin and virgin bees wax from my top bar hives. This salve is more like a first aid for small cuts, dry skin, insect bites since there is lots of resin in it.
Im very proud of it. Will soon make a hand salve with Olive oil, Bees wax and Lavender EO. Will make sure to plant various herbs next year in my garden so to prepare different oil solutions for new salve.

Seeley, Honeybee Democracy and Bait Hives

Thanks to Thomas D. Seeley's book called Honeybee Democracy I feel very comfortable to build a few bite hives and position them around my summer house next spring. According to his research bee swarms moved into 50% of his bite hives each year. Not all reagions are the same and some have more or less swarms than others but its worth a try to acquire some free bees.
I can warmly recomend this book to all interested in bee biology and those willing to learn how to capture a wild swarm with the use of bait hives.
Since I have Top Bar Hives I will make such bait hives to match the existing ones. Biobees forum member Tomas has the kind of Top Bar Bait Hives I will also build.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Drum Top Bar Hive got a Twin

Even though it was freezing cold outside I enjoyed every minute of making this second Top Bar Hive which is made from a reused cable drum pallet.
I just finished the body and the legs. Soon to rip some top bars, make a divider with a hessian cloth, and make a roof.
Can't wait to introduce colonies next year into these Twin Drum Top Bar Hives :)
I have a few more planks left from this drum pallet but not enough for a big hive, so will make a 10 frame nucleus hive for making splits etc ...