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?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Top Bar Honey Cow

The honey cow is standing on its own legs now. No honey in it though! This hive will not house the colonies I  intend to buy in May but rather it will house one of the splits from those colonies in Jun.
The legs make a huge diference when working the hive. No need for bending the back here :) Great!
 Legs secured to the hive body with bolts
Thanks to the tall legs this hive is very ergonomic. Even those with back pain can manipulate this hive

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

48 Hours to Save Bees - Sign This Petition Please

Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But in 48 hours the European Union could move to ban the most poisonous pesticides, and pave the way to a global ban that would save bees from extinction.

Four EU countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. Days ago the official European food safety watchdog stated for the first time that certain pesticides are fatally harming bees. Now legal experts and European politicians are calling for an immediate ban. But, Bayer and other giant pesticide producers are lobbying hard to keep them on the market. If we build a huge swarm of public outrage now, we can push the European Commission to put our health and our environment before the profit of a few.

We know our voices count! Last year, our 1.2 million strong petition forced US authorities to open a formal consultation on pesticides -- now if we reach 2 million, we can persuade the EU to get rid of these crazy poisons and pave the way for a ban worldwide. Sign the urgent petition and share this with everyone -- Avaaz and leading MEPs will deliver our message ahead of this week's key meeting in Brussels.


4th Long Horizontal Top Bar Hive

The garage is starting to be very crowded! Bee hives all over the place ;) I have begun to construct the 4th long horizontal TBH. This timber is 30mm tick.
 Top bars ripped and placed. I rip all top bars to 450mm long and 38mm wide so I can easily exchange it between all my hives.
 The horrifying top entrance! Many beeks seem terrified with top entrances saying that it lets the warmth out of the hive yet most try to make a top ventilation hole coupled with the bottom entrance which is causing VENTILATION !!! I dont think bees prefer ventilation! Top entrance helps contain all the natural occuring acid fumes from nectar gathering and it helps release excess condensation (especially during winter)
Bees dont heat the hive they heat the cluster. What they need is a solid wind break (tick wood) and relatively dry space. Top entrance provides this in my opinion.
I dont think this german skepist would have top entrance on ALL ;) his skeps ;) if they dont work well!
Photo from biobees

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pallet Bounty

I went grocery shopping today and by "accident" (or destiny LOL) I drove the car the wrong way. This led me to take the next exit ... but then something happened ... as if something was calling to me ... instead of taking left I turned right into a small street. There I saw workers building something, and THERE IT WAS !!! :) Lots of wooden pallets thrown aside of the road. I stopped the car and went to ask the foreman if I could take them and he generously showed me thumbs up :D

The pallet size was odd. Much wider and longer than the "normal" size EUR pallets. There was no way to put them into the car as they were. I checked the IPPC seal and it showed HT which stands for Heat Treated. This made me happy since I dont want to use pallets treated with pesticides.

And because Im always on the lookout for pallets I keep in my car a small sledge hammer and a hand saw. I usually need the sledge hammer to knock away the pallet legs. Without the legs I can put more pallets into the car. This time I even needed the hand saw to cut the pallet lenght.

I have filled the car with pallet wood, as much as I could fit. There are still some left behind. I think I need a bigger car ... or a horse ;)
What a great bounty! This defenetly payed off the grocery shopping :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Raw wool as hive insulation

Someone threw away lots of raw wool into the near by forest which I pass every day with my dog. Of course I was not lazy to go back home and get a bag and collect some of it. Wool is a perfect insulation for bee hives, both to insulate the roof above the cluster and in case of doubble walled hives. So I stuffed the one hive which has a doubble wall;
One can see the wool through the window from inside the hive

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Che Guebee Apiary Propolis Salve

I have made another salve. This time from propolis, top bar bees wax and organic olive oil.
230g Organic Olive Oil
  30g Bees Wax
  2 Table spoons of finely poulverised Propolis
Mix bees wax and olive oil until liquid but do not exceed 60'C. Then simmer in the propolis slowly mix for a few minutes than wait until all the bigger particles fall to the bottom (a few minutes) and slowly start pouring the salve into the containers through a very fine tea colander. Not much of the propolis ends up in the salve so I wonder if another method is required to desolve the propolis (propolis tincture?)

Urban Bee-keeping meeting at Mykorrhiza Malmö

I was so glad when Viktor, a Mykorrhiza member, called me on the phone to invite me to their urban bee-keeping meeting in Malmö a few days ago. They are considering to keep bees in Kenya Top Bar Hives and would like to invite beeks who kept bees in them.
I must say that I have only kept bees in top bar hives last year but even that counts for something in a country where top bar beekeeping is just starting to spread slowly.

I am so happy to have met these lovely people :) As I said on the meeting; the world needs such people, who care for the planet and life on it.

Of course I offered all the help I can give and will be part of the Mykorrhiza Bee Group. I will try to plan a Top Bar Hive course for Mykorrhiza members in my bee yard in the summer. Top Bar Hive maintenance and manipulation is different from the conventional vertical hives and its natural that not many feel confident in manipulating a top bar hive without an introduction course. Lets see what time will bring :)
Urban Bee-keeping Mykorrhiza meeting with a Top Bar Nuc Hive one the floor, which I brought for educational reasons.
This giant hive was build by Viktor who was also the host tonight (lots of tea and cookies yam yam). We can call this hive "Dead Man's Chest Top Bar Hive" or "Canoe Top Bar Hive" ;) just joking. Im sure he can keep at least two bee families in there and park a Mini Morris behind the follower board if needed ;D just joking! I love this hive!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bait/Nucleus Top Bar Hive Finished

This (12 top bars) hive will be used both as a bait and a nucleus hive. It has a top entrance with a plastic lock which can be closed so to transport the bees. The lock position has small holes for aeration.
I will fasten a chicken wire behind the entrance so to keep birds away from nesting into the bait hive.
 open lock above and closed lock beneath for hive transport so bees can fly out yet can get sufficient air (short distances only)
I have made some propolis tincture and painted a bit of itto all my hives so to add as much of hive smell as possible. Another lure will be wax on the top bars as comb guides and Lemongrass Essential Oil to mimic Nasonov Pheromone. If there are wild swarms out there they will find this hive irresistible ;)

Monday, January 14, 2013

2 New Top Bar Bait Hives

Bait hives are used to catch bee swarms with. They are to be installed at 2-5 meters above the ground. Lemongrass essential oil is the best lure for attracting swarms. Bees just adore this smell since its similar to the Nasonov pheromone they release when a new home is found. Bees wax should be applied to the top bars to add some more bee smell to it. It is known that bees rather move into a hollow which was previously occupied by the bees.
Constructing the bait hive. Im using the follower board from another TBH as a template so all hives are the same size. This helps when splitting a collony into another hive (same size top bars and same comb size)
When not catching swarms I will use these hives as nucleus hives.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The hive got new legs and a brand new name too

I have decieded to name this hive "Green Bee" :) and I screwed on the legs so I can work the hive on a convinient height. It is a HUGE difference between working the hive with a bent back and a straight back ;)
Every beek should have at least one observation hive with a window. Showing your friends, family, kids, neighbours the inside of the hive while the bees are contained safely behind the glass is such a treat and makes people get to know the bees a bit better :) And its a great way of peaking into the hive without opening it and stressing bees.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Foundationless Frames mixed with Top Bars

I am to get 2 colonies from framed hives. Each colony will have 6 or 10 frames (I think I will go for 6 since they are cheeper). I will need to transport them and for that reason I've built a few "conventional boxses which can accomodate swedish hobby frames (39x36x22cm). I was thinking to split them into top bar hives and leave the rest in these boxses to run them as vertical hives and see how bees thrive in both, vertical and horizontal, systems.
My plan is to have movable top bars in them and to be able to access them (and have the ability to add conventional frames) I will use a few frames on both ends. In this photo one can see too many frames. I am planning to have 8 top bars in the middle and foundationelss frames on each end. The box will be overwintered as you see it. Supers will be added during nectar flow only. I will have top entrance in all my hives during winter time.
This set up shows how Im to add the newly purchased 6 frame colony. The entrance is on the right side (warm way). One honey comb will be placed in front of the entrance then 6 empty top bars and then the rest of the brood comb and framed honey comb at the end left. This will make the colony want to expand the brood nest closer towards the entrance.

Re-designed TBH

The deep TBH is redesigned. It doesn't look that fancy anymore but it will be much warmer than the original design. The old roof doesnt fit anymore so I will have to make a new one. The old roof will be donated to one of the twin Drum Top Bar Hives.
 Original hive walls are 25mm. I added one more wall making totall wall thickness of 50mm. The ends remain 25mm since the comb is facing them (comb act like thermal walls)
To the left side I added a vertical wall which will be facing the windy side. There is lots of space behind this wall to fill it with insulating materials ...
 This wall acts like a door which is exposing the window ...
The window was the real reason for me re-designing this hive. The window glass is way too big for this cold swedish climate in my opinion. Most swedsih beeks have hive walls which are 30-50mm thick.
As I mentioned earlier the ends remain 25mm because the back end has a follower board and space behind it which will be filled with insulating material. The front end has the wax combs behind it and will be pointed toward South-East.
Now I have to make a new roof and give the hive new legs. I will varnish all hives in spring with linseed oil and wax mixture.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Zeland Government sits on its hands as honey bees die

"I've been contacted recently by several beekeepers who are worried about what is happening to our nation's honey bees.

A Bay of Plenty beekeeper recently lost 230 of his beehives - or half of his operation. He's been beekeeping since 1981, and has never had losses like this before.

He says other beekeepers have experienced similar losses. A Northland beekeeper recently lost 900 of his 1000 hives; another has lost 400 hives, and others last year lost half of their hives.

The Bay of Plenty keeper is wondering what is causing such huge losses.

The 2012 winter was harsh, and many factors can contribute to honey bee losses -including pathogens, the Varroa mite (which weakens the immune systems of bees and puts them under stress) and more intensive farming that is wiping out forage and natural food sources for bees.

But he suspects the main cause of his losses is the cocktail of pesticides and chemicals that are used in many kiwifruit orchards where bees pollinate. Since the advent of the kiwifruit disease PSA, growers are using even more pesticides on kiwifruit orchards, and he is concerned that some growers, in their desperation to control the disease, have resorted to using illegal as well as legal pesticides and other chemicals." ... Continue reading ...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Got new pallets and resizing the Deep TBH

I went grocery shopping today and was not lazy nor shy to aks the salesman if they have a few spare wood pallets and she said yes, take four :)
So I returned home with some more material for making top bar hives. I still didnt make any bait hives yet!
I decided to resize the deep top bar hive I made last year. It was inspired by Dennis Murrel's deep Wayoming TBH which acrding to him work great in his freezing climate. On the other hand, I was corresponding with Erik Österlund (famous swedish small cell beekeeper) and his opinion was that this hive is way too deep for the Swedish winters. Even though I have huge respect for Dennis Murrel the fact that I live in Sweden made me take Erik's advice.
One can see in this photo the newly acquired pallets and the resized top bar hive on the work table;