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, November 19, 2015

Update before the Winter kick in

I have prepared my colonies for the winter. They were all fed with approx 12 kg of sugar syrup and they should also have some from their own forage.
There are 8 colonies going into the winter as of today. I have insulated the roofs only as I usually do with a think Styrofoam, in case some serious minus kicks in I will place some thicker insulation  on top of the top bars.

It seems that this winter too will be very mild. I was hoping for  a colder winter but what can we do. Its November and its around 13'C which is unheard of in Scandinavia at this time of the year. Still disbelieve in Global Warming? Good for you.

Type A and Type B Deformed Wing Virus

I have not been active on my blogs for some time now. The reason is not me having less interest for the bees but rather me having less interests to converse with people about bees. Why is that you might ask?

Well, I just got tired of talking to many on the net and here in Scandinavia, primarily in Sweden and Denmark and in most cases getting either very negative response or even being laughed at when talking about my treatment free natural beekeeping in Top Bar Hives. Laughed at because I focus on letting my bees express their biology which results in very little surplus honey and getting negative response when saying that I dont treat my hives with anything.. Most beekeepers here still believe in the myth that untreated hives will spread Varroa into the surrounding area and re-infest their treated hives causing them  issues. This is not the case as this new study shows

"Over the past 50 years, many millions of European honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies have died as the ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor, has spread around the world. Subsequent studies have indicated that the mite’s association with a group of RNA viral pathogens (Deformed Wing Virus, DWV) correlates with colony death. Here, we propose a phenomenon known as superinfection exclusion that provides an explanation of how certain A. mellifera populations have survived, despite Varroa infestation and high DWV loads. Next-generation sequencing has shown that a non-lethal DWV variant ‘type B’ has become established in these colonies and that the lethal ‘type A’ DWV variant fails to persist in the bee population. We propose that this novel stable host-pathogen relationship prevents the accumulation of lethal variants, suggesting that this interaction could be exploited for the development of an effective treatment that minimises colony losses in the future."

So we can conclude that Varroa with Type A virus will kill its host the Honeybee colony if not treated and hence will also die with the colony resulting in that Varroa not being able to spread its Type A virus next year. Treatments can never kill 100% of the mites so those who do survive will spread into the next season, maybe with an even stronger Type A virus.

Those colonies which are infested with Varroa with the Type B virus will survive the winter and so will the Varroa and the non-lethal Type B virus. Varroa with Type B virus will spread into new hives the next season and "vaccinate" other bee colonies with this Type B virus which keeps the Type A virus at bay. Natures way of vaccination :) smart this Nature, no? ;)

Once again Nature shows how limited and tiny we humans are, always trying to find that "silver bullet" to sort all our problems. Natural biodiversity is the key to most of our issues and our ignorant and greedy mind is the only phenomena we need to treat to fix these issues. Comnpassion, love and awareness seems to fix such minds.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I totally forgot to post this picture, my bad :) I had other things on my mind this Summer and have not been blogging much sorry.
As I already mentioned I have sown lots of bee friendly plants this year and Sunflowers were one of them. Of course the Sunflowers have finished with blooming at this stage :)
They grew very well this year. By the very busy Bumblebee and Honeybee activity I recon it gave lots of pollen and nectar.
 Honeybee and a Bumblebee sharing natures nectar :)
This was the largest ever area I have sown for the bees so far :) and Im glad we have so much land to do so. Bees in our environment have very little wild forage thanks to the mono-crop agriculture.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Snow-white honey and bee forage

 In Scandinavia we mix the honey so it would not crystallize. When mixing the honey, air breaks the sugar crystals and the honey becomes creamy.  Usually such honey looks darker. I was surprised to see it to be snow-white! After researching a bit I found out that fruit tree honey is white when mixed/stirred. I have found local honey sold in a shop which was the same color and it was written on it "Spring honey from Fruit trees and bushes, Willow and Canola". Canola alone is a bit darker I know this so it must be mostly from the fruit trees and willow.
The jar to the left is the same honey but in a raw liquid form so there is some color to it. Its amazing to see such radical change in color after stirring it :) It has a mild taste like most spring honey. The stronger taste honey is Autumn honey.
 The Calendula, Borage and Honey Phacellia are growing very well and is covered in all sorts of bees
Bumblebee and Honeybee sharing a Phacelia flower without fuss :) 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Planting bee friendly flowers

 I have planted  lots of flowers this Spring. The Phacelia is now in the bloom and there are so many Bumblebees as well as Honeybees visiting it.
I also planted Sunflowers, Borage, Calendula and Tagetes as well as 1 hectare with white clover. This will help a bit in this Danish mono-crop agro environment devoid of healthy biodiversity.

Modest honey harvest

 Out of 3 nucleus top bar hives that I supered only one went up into the supers and made approx 20kg of honey.
 This is the first time for me working with framed combs, I used to only crush and strain the top bar comb in the past.
 I have built this DIY honey extractor but it didnt work that well for me. It was shaking too much and some of the combs flew out of the frames.
So after this extractor failed to deliver I simply did the crush and strain

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pine has loads of pollen and no swarms so far

Our Pine trees are in bloom now and boy oh boy how much pollen these cone flowers produce
This is pollen from only 4 small cone flowers and there is lots still inside of them!!! I mean so much pollen from Pine flowers I would have never thought is possible! Great for the bees indeed :) To be honest I did notice some very light powdery yellowish pollen on their legs and naively thought it was a paler than usual Canola pollen which is golden-greenish. I had no idea Pine produces so much of it :))
One local beek already had one hive swarm last week so I expected mine to do the same but nope. My ladies are waiting for something which is fine with me. Now its rainy but next week should be sunny and warm so thats the time to be ready. I have 2 hives boiling with bees. I have never seen so many bees in one single hive before! They must have 2 Queens in there!
Dandelion bloom is over but the Honeysuckle bushes and Hawthorn is in the bloom now.

p.s. for those of you who read my æast post about the farmer spraying pesticides; I did report the guy to the officials and they are onto him since as they say its illegal to spray Canola when in bloom during the bee fligh hours. Its onlt legal to do it between 21h evening -3h in the morning. This guy did it between 8-10h in the morning on a VERY sunny day, a big no no! They will call me back with results of their investigation, stay tuned.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Danish farmer spraying Oil Seed Rape which is in Bloom !!!

This morning I've got a headache after I saw the local farmer spraying his Canola fields which are in full bloom! I still have a headache as I write this and I think its a migraine because I feel like puking too.
I stopped him and talked to him telling him that I have bees in this locality and that regulations state that all spraying is to take place after 21h when bees are in the hives and not in the morning hours when bees are already in the field. He said this maybe the case in Sweden but in Denmark its legal to spray this pesticide-fungicide mix in the morning because it is marked as "bee-friendly". He is not an organic farmer so bee-friendly is questionable! 

He also reacted insulted for me even bringing this up because he isn't doing anything illegal yet I sound as if this was wrong  Rolling Eyes  Sad 
I suggested that he maybe sprays in the future in the evening but he refused because he has lots to do and he can't possibly spray all his fields in the evening hours. So we parted without saying good buy to each other. 

I will contact the minister for the environment Monday and see what the story is with regulations and what they can do to protect our native and honeybees from such issues. 

I placed "trays" infront of my hives to see if bees are acting poisoned today, so far I can' see any strange behaviour, but this means nothing because this food they bring in in form of pollen and necatr will be fed to brood which might get infections or be weak to deal with Varroa virus.

By the way he didnt want to say what pesticide he was using hejust said its a mix of insecticide and fungicide and its marked as bee friendly 
If I discover dead bees infront of the hive I will send them for testing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The plant of generosity is in full bloom

Dandelion needs no insects to pollinate it. This is amazing for me because it provides pollinators with ample amounts of both pollen and nectar and it is of high quality. It sure is THE plant of Generosity :)  Its pollen has only 11% protein but has 15% fat and bees need both. The sugar % in nectar is all from 18-50% depending on weather and other conditions. Dandelion blooms also mark the preparation for a swarming season :)
 Dandelions blooming along the side of our young forest
Our forest garden with the apiary at the back
 Note the pollen ball on the bee's hind leg :)
 Even solitary bees and bumblebees as well as all sorts of flies and beetles can feed on its flowers
 Honeybee covered in dandelion pollen. Bees hairs are static and attract pollen, then the bee groom itself and collects it in the "basket" which is on their hind legs.
 Bee heaven
Here you can see the bees "tongue" (proboscis) sucking nectar.

The worst you can do at this time is mow your loan! I have seen my neighbor yesterday mowing all  the dandelions in his garden. Bees need all the flowers in this damaged eco-system they can find. We damaged it remember that! So make sure to leave at least those which exist :) And please do not spray RoundUp (or any other poisonous herbicide) onto the Dandelions! Thank you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring blooms and deadly pesticides - Aroma of the Danish countryside

Mmmm, such a great weather these days in the Danish countryside. Newly opened flowers of Mirabelle, Willow and Dandelions are basking in the sunlight spreading their lovely aroma. Buzz of the bees spreads through the air accompanied by the light breeze. Idyllic!
Honeybee collecting willow nectar
Dandelions offer ample amounts of pollen and nectar. The air smells of Mirabelle blooms, mmm ... but wait! Something also stinks around here ... 
Farmers are out spraying their mono-crop fields with all sorts of poisonous stuff. I took this photo from our window because I did not dare to get out of the house. The smell of the pesticides/fungicides is very pungent. What a great country life, nature and all ...
My bees are inside our forest garden, protected from pesticides drifting into hives but they are far from safe because bees fly inside a 4km radius. 
Conventional beekeepers say that beekeeping is so much fun ... I am yet to experience that because all I see is what bees are showing me and that is how we humans are killing the very nature we all depend on :( 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Supering the short Top Bar Hives

The Mirabelle Plums are in bloom and even the Dandelions are beginning to bloom here so I decided to super my short top bar hives. I wouldn't do this so early if the supering method I use isn't bee-friendly though. In convetional hives you place an empty box on top of the whole colony so all heat goes up. In my hives there are only two slits which lead into the upper box. This helps the bees with containing the warmth alot in the top bar hive body. I have placed a small/narrow queen excluder to make sure the queen only lays in the top bar hive. All the shallow frames have a 2cm wax guide made from wax foundation so they can fill the frames with their own natural comb. By the way I supered only 3 hives, 2 with 2 shallows and 1 with 1 shallow box. The other colonies need to build up and will be used to make splits in Jun if they get strong. Lets see how this will work.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

No pollen No brood

It matters little that bees cant even collect enough pollen to last them through the winter in this, by human hand, damaged eco-system. Whats important for us is to have a new car, fancy clothes and entertainment of all sorts who cares about bees right!?

Out of 6 survivor colonies I see 2 flying very little indicating they are weak in numbers. Since today was 20'C I decided to quickly inspect and see if they are queen right and if they have any brood. Both colonies had a fine queen but no brood nor eggs. I know one queen is from 2012 since she was the one that came with the first colony I bought from a local beekeeper and he clips wings. The other queen was from a split so I assume she is still the same one. These colonies had brood last year. I looked closer into the combs and found no old pollen which colonies usually have stored from the last year. They need this pollen to start raising brood from February/March depending on how cold/warm the weather is. Without this pollen they can only sit ducks and wait for the first pollen flow in the spring which is now. I could see a few cells with new fresh willow pollen but this needs to be fermented first and the more they wait the more old worker bees will die and the colony will dwindle. They do have enough honey stores though which is good.
Willow blooming (male flowers offer pollen). We have lots of willows on our Willow Farm ;) surprise surprise

As soon dandelions start blooming I will shake some house bees from the strong colonies to help them out since they are valuable treatment free survivors and that old queen might make at lest one more split before she gets super-seeded by her own bees.

Female willow flowers offer nectar
Foragers bringing home freshly collected willow pollen
busy bees
I have sown one more acre with white clover and a huge patch with Borage, Calendula and tomorrow will sow lots of Phacelia to help out my ladies with pesticide free food in this dead Danish eco-system. Its very strange to me that Danish people try to create biodiverse cities and towns to save the nature yet the very country side which should be The Nature is being plundered and poisoned by mono-crop agri-business (cry and roll eyes). The country side smells of chemical warfare this spring instead of flowers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Late winter forage and Bee Tea

The Spring is just around the corner and the "awakening" bees are already foraging what ever is available at this still cold time. We have planted 100 bulbs of each; Crocus, Snow Drops and Siberian Squill last year and Crocus and Snow Drops are blooming now.
 As soon the temperature was high enough for flying they were all over the Crocus. We will keep planting 100 bulbs of each plant every year. Our small homestead is to be a Bee Oasis.
 I have seen many bees sipping water from the exposed thread algae which was growing in our flooded filed. we had lots of water around fields this winter because it was so mild. When frosty then the water gets dispersed all over the environment instead.
Some beekeepers laugh at me when I say that bees drink herbal tea in form of dew drops from the plant leaves. As you can see here they sure are after something more than just water because I did provide them with water and there is near by pond as well. Im sure they get minerals this way.
Since my apiary is surrounded by heavy mono-crop agriculture heavily sprayed with pesticides I'm trying to provide to the bees some sort of dietary supplement which can help them get rid of pesticides (detoxification). I read a lot about Chaga mushroom which is only growing in very cold climates and is suppose to be a very good detoxifier according to Paul Stamets. 
At first I thought to give it to the bees in form of a tea mixed with sugar syrup but that is cheating them. I wanted to see if bees decide for them selves to actually take it in form of a cold infusion (not warmed). I just place a few chunks of Chaga into a bowl of water and let it brew. I saw a few bees showing interest in it yesterday. In this shot you see only one bee ready to fly off but it was drinking it. I will keep observing this bowl longer and update the blog as soon I know more.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Happy Ladies Day!

Today was the first day of the forage in 2015 and it happened to be on the 8th of March the Ladies Day :) Well happy 8 of march to all of you celebrating it) My Ladies sure are not wasting their time and are collecting all available nectar and pollen as well as propolis to start the party :))

Just to add to the video above; As soon the sun warmed the other hives which were in the shade they too started flying strongly and returned back to the hives with lots of pollen. So 6 hives have survived the winter treatment free. I am so happy for the survivor colonies that I totaly forgot about the 4 which died. Im not sure why so many beekeepers cling to their losses and talk little about their survivors ... The dead are dead, goners, went back into the great bundle of Energy to become something else. The live ones are there to carry on the strong genes, so rejoice :) Life at its best!

 Bees working Eranthis (winter aconite) note the yellow pollen

 Orange pollen is from the Snow Drops (Crocus has just started growing which also has orange pollen)
I see mostly yellow pollen but also mustard color pollen which comes from the Hazel trees. I have seen bees all over the Hazel tree but failed to make a good photo.
I have seen a few bees collecting propolis on the near by Spruce trees. Busy busy little bees indeed :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The forming of the first official natural beekeeping group in Denmark

It has begun :) We have started forming the first official group for Natural Beekeeping in Top Bar Hives in Denmark. We will be part of the large organization called Praktisk Økologi (Practical Ecology) and will work under their banner because this will save us lots of time and efforts and we will be able to use their contacts and their web portal as well as other aspects. We now have 13 people but only 5 could come today for the first meeting. Soon to have a second meeting which Im looking forward to. I feel some serious Buzzing in the air :)  We still didn't decide on the groups name but More Buzz in the Garden is one of the suggestions. Stay tuned!

The end of Februray

Out of 10 colonies 6 are still alive and 4 have died most likely from Nosema by the signs of it (poo all over the combs and inner walls). Nosema is caused by some stressor and Im not sure what that is (guessing the pesticides and lack of bio-diverse forage in this agro environment). My colonies are treatment free.

Monday, February 9, 2015

3 colonies dead, 7 still going strong

Today was very warm, 7'C but it must have been warmer in the sun. Most of the colonies were flying except 3 hives so I decided to gently open up these hives and see whats up.
 After opening the first hive I heard no buzz, so I knew something was wrong. I removed all the combs and found dead bees all over the combs and hive floor. It was easy to see what happened here; the brown strokes on the hive wall is bee poo/feces and is a sure sign of a disease called Nosema. Healthy bees don't waste inside the hive but do so outside on sunny days, so called Cleansing Flights. The dead colonies are 2 last year swarms from my apiary and a split with the old queen.
Here is a close up of the bee feces (brown stuff)
Here you can see bee feces on the comb and some bees are sticking inside the combs which usually is sign of starvation but this is out of question because there is lots of capped honey just beside them and they sure had at least 6kg of stores left.
all 3 hives had the same issue with Nosema
 Dead bees clustering around a dead queen (can you see her)
Lots of stores left in these hive but I can cant give it to the other colonies because they are infected with Nosema spores. Pity really. Lets see if the other colonies can pull it off until the first spring blooms.