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, March 31, 2014

Bee season has officially begun

So far I could see bees only occasionally on Snowdrops and Squill but now they are in full speed ...
Mirabelle Plums are in full bloom and the trees are buzzing loudly :)
A Honeybee working Mirabelle flower. If you look closer you will see the mustard colored pollen.
The bees are also working Willow trees and this time. I can see the bees working both male and female Willow trees. Will try to make a photo of it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The pH of Honey and Sugar Syrup

In conventional beekeeping it is a common practice to steal all the honey from the bees and then feed them with white refined sugar. Sugar pH is 7 and that of the honey is all between 3,5 to 5. This tells us that bees prefer acidic food and not neutral nor alkaline.

I have read many times that beekeepers say sugar syrup's pH is 7 but this is far from the truth ladies and gents! You see, no one I know of mentioned the pH of the tap water used to make the sugar syrup. You see the tap water in Sweden for instance is pH 8 or higher! This will be the pH of the sugar syrup too, maybe a bit less than that but still very much alkaline.

You see, the bees health depends on the delicate balance within its body. Like us they too have various bacteria functioning within them. One of such bacteria is the Lactic Acid Bacteria which strengthens the immunity. This bacteria needs acid conditions to live and sugar syrup surely is not providing that.
And then we wonder why bees have many issues in the world of conventional beekeeping.

I am against feeding sugar syrup but do feed it to the bees in case they need extra food. When I make sugar syrup I make sure to add organic apple cider vinegar to it to lower the pH and I also add a cup of Nettle tea for extra minerals. Its not perfect but much better than sugar syrup with a pH of 8 (thanks to the hard tap water).

The best is to let the bees have their honey, pesticide free honey that is.
Sugar Syrup (5:3) with organic apple cider vinegar and Nettle tea

Beekeeping for Free

Who sais that beekeeping must cost a lot?
It is relatively easy to find free wooden pallets and there you have the material for your hive :) Very cheap indeed and top bar hive beekeeping doesn't need any of the expensive gadgets used in conventional beekeeping. As a matter of fact you don't need anything at all used in conventional beekeeping; you need no smoker (use a plastic spray bottle instead with water in it), you need no expensive honey extractors (use crush and strain, crush the comb with your own hands and let the honey strain through your kitchen colander), you need no hive tool (use a long kitchen knife), you need no queen excluders, no room for extra equipment, no bee suit (its enough to buy a cheap black mosquito net used for fishing placed over any kind of hat), no need to buy wax foundations (bees have built natural comb without foundations for more than 40 million years), you will not need to buy sugar to feed to the bees (bees have survived on their own honey for more than 40 million years, just leave them enough), no need for the un-sustainable frame wire, etc ... Be wise and choose natural top bar beekeeping, for the bees sake and that of our environment too. Thank you :)
It takes a bit time to dismantle the pallets and remove all the nails without damaging the planks. When dismantling pallets ALWAYS start with removing the legs first and work upwards.
3 new top bar hives for free :) made with reused pallet wood
Top Bars are in place only the roof is missing ... and bees ;) Soon!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Honey Robbing vs Honorable Harvest

The same way there is cattle-ranching there is also Honeybee-ranching. Honeybee-ranching is also known as Conventional Beekeeping. Such beekeeping method is focused primarily on the profit side of beekeeping though honey/pollen/propolis/royal jelly production, migratory pollination, production of young Queens and nucleus hives as well as package bees (which are simply bees shaken from various colonies into one package and given an unrelated Queen).
This dairy cow can be compared to a conventional beehive
honeybee colony, created to produce profit
I will be talking mostly about honey and pollination. The truth is that Honeybees do pollinate huge varieties of plants throughout the season. The truth is also that bees DO NOT make large amounts of surplus honey!

What do you mean by bees don't make surplus honey (you might ask) since all beekeepers make much honey throughout the season, up to 70 kg per colony?!
Prof. Seeley's study on Swarm Behaviour clearly indicates that new swarms seek for cavities no bigger than approximately 40 liters. In such volume bees simply can't make any surplus honey for us to take. One can see what happens to the cow in the pic above which is forced to be bigger than nature has designed her. She can't walk. It's unnatural and it is a product of human green and ignorance (resulting in non-compassion).
The cavity is the colonies "body size" and in conventional beekeeping this body is forced to be large up to over 200 liters!!!

Yet bees still seem to fill those 200 liters with huge amounts of honey and wax. Bees dont want it, they dont need so much honey but they do it for one reason only and that is to fill that empty space with wax comb. Bees dislike having empty space over their heads since condensation can easily form in that empty space and drip down onto the colony chilling them to death in the winter. Comb also acts as a thermo-regulator, as a radiator if you like. Bees produce heat which accumulates in the wax comb and in turn radiates the heat back onto the bees. Smart :)

Conventional beekeepers have realized the fact that bees dislike empty space above their heads and have used this trick to fool bees into production rather than allowing the bees to reproduce via natural swarming. One can control swarming by placing empty super boxes onto the existing hive to fool the bees into thinking they aren't ready for swarming just yet.
If bees swarm there will be less bees in the hive to produce honey for the Honey Producer (I mean conventional beekeeper). Profit orientated mind simply cant let that happen hence creating such large cows, oops I mean bee colonies.

Control over nature is within human nature for a longtime now. Most of us seem to have it as a norm. There is no other way but to control it! Or is there another way?

Bees benefit if allowed to swarm every year in the late Spring or early Summer. That is their perfect time to reproduce via new daughter colonies. Once swarmed they have the whole summer to build up for the winter but no time to build surplus honey, at least not in huge amounts as mentioned above. This is the main reason Honey Producers (who call them selves conventional beekeepers) do not allow their bees to behave naturally but instead suppress swarming by supering their hives with empty boxes.

When bees swarm the colonies also go through a very important bio-rhythm called Brood Break. During brood breaks there are no new eggs and hence no new brood where their pest the Varroa mite can breed. Varroa needs bee brood to breed and without brood no new Varroa :) sweet!
But in conventional hives bees dont get a brood break. Instead they are forced to labor, to produce huge amounts of honey for the so called "beekeeper". The saddest is when conventional beekeepers are surprised when they loose colonies due Varroa mites even though they treat religiously their colonies with all sorts of anti-Varroa products.

Bees in conventional hives are the same as the cow in the picture above; they can't behave naturally and hence they are not in a healthy state.
Ok, so if bees don't make surplus honey we don't get any honey, is that right? you might ask :)
Well not really. All this honey stuff depends a lot on the season and how developed a bee colony is. For instance the Summer of 2012 was extremely rainy and bees could hardly get out of the hive to forage, also flowers do not produce much nectar if the weather is cold. Some Summers can be too hot with way too little rain. Without rain flowers can't make nectar. So the balance between the rain and Sunshine is crucial to the flower's nectar production.

New colony is not yet developed and needs to build lots of wax and increase number of bees. All this work need large amounts of Honey and Pollen. One can not expect much if any honey that year. Next year the bees have ready wax comb to just keep on filling with honey. No need for building many wax combs meaning more honey stored.

I like land-race cows :) actually all sorts of land-race animals. Such land-race cows, lets say from Sweden do not produce much milk but they sure can run and they sure can survive in the forest only eating what they find. Less milk for me but also less money spent on food for the cow and not to forget such cows are almost never sick :) so less money for the vet! Sweet!
Land-race cows created by nature
I also like naturally behaving honeybees. Such bees sure have more vigor than those controlled in conventional beekeeping.

If we let the bees show us their actual nature, to show us what they do when not restricted and controlled we just might realize that bees dont make large surplus of honey. But a naturally developed colony in a balanced season (not too rainy and not too dry) might reward us with 10 kg of honey. Now this is called an Honorable Harvest and not Honey Robbing :)
Conventional beekeepers take all the honey from their bees and then feed them with refined white sugar (sugar syrup). This sure must be the worst insult to the honey maker Honeybee!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Preparing the new apiary in Denmark

Im soon to move my apiary from sweden to our new farm in Denmark. I was looking all over our property and one spot seems just perfect, away from the neighbors and the road.
Its facing South and protected from North. It is also protected from the strong West and East winds. So I removed all the lower tree branches to create more space
Che Guebee Apiary is moving to Denmark
Once all the lower branches were cut I placed a few empty hives into this new spot just to get a feel how its gonna look :) It looks great! And it feels great! Cant wait to move the bees so they are close to me :) 
I called the police today and told them to place my name on the swarm list. In case someone in my area needs a swarm of bees to be removed I will be contacted :) Lets hope I get at least one swarm this way!