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?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Denmark's environment is a desert for pollinators

I was talking to a local conventional beekeeper today and he told me that he is about to start winterizing his hives; feeding with sugar syrup and "locking up" the hives which means leaving only 2 boxes in total and removing the supers.

I told him that this must be too early since it is only end of July but he said plants will not be able to produce much because of the drought and there isn't much forage left in this locality anyway because of all the mono-culture which already bloomed long ago in form of Canola.

Im shocked indeed! So there is no Autumn Honey in my locality!

I was thinking to harvest some honey from my strongest colonies end of July but now I'm worried to do so, unless I decide to feed them with sugar which I really don't want to do. My plan was to let them overwinter on their own honey and only take a few combs for myself from the strong colonies.

What I can do is equalize stores between all colonies and have none for myself. I guess I can go to my local conventional beekeeper and buy some from him ... sad really. His honey is only Canola honey which he could make thanks to swarm control by supering at that time and drone and queen cell culling which I dont do.

He suggested that I start migrating bees to better pastures around this part of Denmark as he is doing. There are those who grow White Clover for example.
I didnt have these issues in Sweden (South of Sweden is the same as Denmark though).
Mono-crop agriculture is the end of us no doubt.

I will need to do my best to create a bee sanctuary on my farm. It is needed indeed! I can see this now. So far my farm looks like on this photo map;
The sheep pasture has been already sown with white clover and grasses and I'm waiting for it to start growing. The kitchen garden area will be organized next year and this autumn and will also be planted with bee friendly flowers (click on photo to enlarge it)

It would be easy for me to just let the bees be (as I already do) if I was a person with a "regular" job and bees are just a hobby. But I'm trying to make a living as a self-sufficient homesteader and some honey would sure help this life style somewhat. I mean I love working with bees and I would love to strike a balance between my household needs and bees needs. I mean I have people asking me to sell some honey to them and I have none! Sad even my wife is asking if we are going to have some honey at least for us this year?

How do I do that in this mono-crop environment and with natural practice?

It's obvious that letting bees have a brood break will resulting less honey but that is one thing I can't take away from them! This means my bees will either swarm or be split in May/Jun when the swarming impulse is strongest.
My bees will always have freedom to build natural comb that's for sure!

This locality is fairly good in Spring and early Summer. Lots of Willow, Maple, Hawthorn, fruit trees, dandelions, thistles, some white clover and of course there is always some Canola around here. But after thistles are done it seems dead.

So it seems that the only way to make some honey is by joining two colonies after the splitting in the same hive but separated by a tight follower board and placing a super on top so they both share it. Queen excluder might be necessary here so queens don't mix.

I could do that in a TBH I suppose or in a long Scandinavian hive. I should also feed new swarms with sugar syrup so they buildup comb faster. I rather feed sugar during comb building season than later.

It's seems I must ponder ...
Here is a video showing our mono-crop environment. Sad really :(


  1. You need bigger colonies which mean you need bigger hives. Do you remember what I told you about a splittingsystem which will give you honey, a new queen, a break in reproduction and no swarms?

    Make this split 2 weeks before headflowering. In my area it means around 1 of june. You put the old queen with the open broad and lots of honey and pollen in a split and let the covered broadcakes and all the flying bees be in the old entrance of course with a white cake with egg for a new queen. Try to give them a small eggcake.

    You still need longer hives and maybe bigger cakes as well. I'm sure you find a way.

    Make a test during next summer.

  2. You can produce buckwheat as a maincrop on your farm. Sow it as late as possible and you will have three floweringperiods, two of them in late summer, early autumn. Maybe its something you can sell to people as well.

    And you have to start eating lots of Buckwheat porridge as well :-) I do.
    Maybe some pancakes as well

    1. I would love to grow and eat buckwheat but how do I remove the seed from its hard shell??

    2. Very smallscale
      You can by it here but I think you can by it in Denmark as well.

      If you will have a bigger scale there are lots of dehullers to by from Asia.

  3. Or maybe Buckwheat-Cornbread with no gluten.

  4. Buckwheat grows wild here now (the eastern part of Massachusetts, USA), or should I say it's now "feral," leftover from a time when it was a common crop. I don't see much honey either right now but we will have goldenrod starting at the end of August then into September. Last year the bees were bringing back huge amounts of the yellow-orange pollen from early morning until evening, non-stop for several weeks. Also sweet pepper bushes should start blooming any day there is still hope for the bees to build up enough for the winter. Some people wait until the spring to harvest honey if they're not sure the bees will have enough for the winter. Seems like a reasonable solution. Good luck to you and your bees...and mine and everyone else's!

    1. I did sow some Buckwheat and still its in the bloom but Im yet to see a Honeybee on it :) Only Syrphids and Flies pollinate it for some reason. Im not having issues with harvesting honey now or in spring :) Some of my colonies didnt even collect enough for themselves for this coming winter :) Its not about when to harvest but rather can bees even harvest enough for themselves. I was talking to local beeks and they say that after Jun-July there is nothing much left in this environment. There simply are no wild areas left because the agriculture is so intense. Our politicians are ignorant people simple as that. We cant wait for them to make a change but try and mobilize all willing to create bee sanctuaries