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, April 21, 2014

Horror Story

I went to our summerhouse in Sweden to move my bee colonies to our new farm in Denmark. Once there bee inspector came to inspect the colonies and he found no issues, so I've got documents for the move :) By the way all 6 colonies have survived the winter :) Great! One of the colonies had no Queen but they are alive. The bee inspector said that they maybe have an unmated Queen since they are so calm. I dont treat my colonies against Varroa.

Next was to move the colonies from the long top bar hives into smaller nucleus hives for easier transport. My trailer isn't that big and there is no way to get all the long hives into it hence the need to transfer the bees into the nucleus hives. Once I begun the transfer I quickly realized that my new nucleus hives are a bit smaller than the original long hives so I had to chop'n'crop the comb which was a bit messy. During the transfer I could not find Queens :( which made me worried because I shook each comb into the hive before cropping it. Queens can get lost this way and even get damaged because of the fall.

Transport hives on top of the long hives

I have waited until 20 h for all the bees to return to their hives for the night and once they stopped flying I sealed the entrances with aluminium net and moved them into the trailer. The journey was a bit bumpy even though I was driving on asphalt roads all the way from Sweden to Denmark. The journey took 2,5 hours.

When we arrived to our farm I moved the hives to their permanent location and noticed nectar/honey leaking from two hives :( That didn't look good at all! I was sure some comb collapsedso I opened the hives to see whats going on;
Hives placed in our forest garden. Notice the first hive bearding. That is one of the hives where honey was leaking from. 
When I opened the hive this is what I saw :( collapsed comb and many bees squashed! I moved all the undamaged comb into a new hive body and placed the collapsed brood comb at the back in hope the survivor bees will care for it.
Once all the undamaged comb was moved to a new hive I shook all the bees dead and alive onto the ground in front because it was impossible to take the living bees out. Most of the living bees quickly found their way into the new hive and the rest were dead bees :( too many have died :( After an hour this colony begun to fly as if nothing happened.
The second colony had only 2 undamaged combs. 8 combs collapsed :( This was a total horror! Seeing all these bees dead and dying  crushed my heart and for once I wished I had conventional hives and not top bar hives. This cant happen in conventional hives because all comb is within wooden frames. Top bar hive comb is free hanging and hence a bad candidate for transport. Most of the bees on the ground are dead and those alive moved up into the new hive which has only two combs. All the collapsed comb I've placed into the hive with no Queen. I simply placed them against the walls at the back in hope they will know what to do. Since they have no brood I'm sure they will be happy to get some.

The other 3 hives were flying very strong today. They are totally undamaged because they are smaller colonies which didn't collect much nectar and hence the combs were very light. The 2 colonies which got damaged where my strongest colonies which filled combs with lots of nectar and even had 2 combs with capped honey. Im so sad I cant even find words to explain it :(

All this collapse would not happen if I went to Sweden earlier to get them before they had the chance to fill the combs with nectar. I should have known better because we had a very mild winter and everything started blooming sooner this Spring ... :( lesson learned ...

As soon bees calmed down for the day I cleaned up all the dead bees to reduce chance for disease and attracting local bees to my apiary since all the dead bees were covered in nectar. Very messy move indeed.
What hurts me most is that they made it through the winter and now got great suffering just because i wanted to move them :( I am so sorry ... I am. I hope never to move bees again.


  1. Oh no! I'm so very sorry to read about your bee losses. Last winter, a bear destroyed my hive, and dealing with the loss and broken comb was heartbreaking. Unless someone experiences this personally, I don't think they can really understand what it's like to see a hive that has fallen apart. I am near tears just reading about your broken comb. That is just terrible, terrible news, and I'm so sorry that this happened to you and your bees. I hope that they recover quickly.

    1. Thanks Julie! Sorry to hear about your loss. Sure it feels bad seeing your ladies suffer especially after surviving the winter treatment free :( but life goes on.

  2. Its always very sad then this happens. I made an mistake myself last summer. I´ve got 4 new queens later then I was told and made 4 splits very late in the season from my 2 very nice colonies. They are still alive but are very week and small now.

    One who didn't have the courage to make mistakes will never learn anything. You are a bit better beekeeper now Dusko.

    1. Thank you Patrick for kind words :) I was sitting in my apiary today and the bees are being very busy collecting nectar and pollen. Even the most devistated colony was flying :) It seems as they have forgotten the horror story and moved on :) so shall I :) Life goeson and on and on ...