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Natural Beekeeping

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default Natural Beekeeping

Post by biobee on 20th January 2010, 10:02 am

For those of you who want to get a flavour of what is becoming known as 'natural beekeeping', here are some links to more information:

I was interviewed for a site dealing with health benefits of honey recently, and the result is on this page - http://www.health-benefits-of-honey.com/beekeeping-forum.html

There is a lot of free, downloadable stuff on my site at www.biobees.com

There is a very lively natural beekeeping forum here www.naturalbeekeeping.org

Friends of the Bees is a charity set up last year to help protect and conserve all bees, with a special interest in honeybees - see www.friendsofthebees.org

That's a start.

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by biobee on 21st January 2010, 4:34 pm

Like so many British beekeeping novices, I began with a 'WBC' hive – the kind with sloped-sided outer boxes enclosing the brood chamber and supers. Soon, I acquired a couple more and began to realize that, if I was to continue along this road, I would have to build myself a big shed in which to house all the spare woodwork and other paraphenalia that was rapidly accumulating – and I would have to find a way to pay for all the 'extras' I would soon be needing.

At this point I asked myself, “Does it really need to be this way?” And that innocent question led me on an exploratory mission of reading, study and experimentation that showed me conclusively that, no – it does not need to be that way: beekeeping does not need to be complicated, expensive or dependent on machine-made parts and equipment.

My search for an alternative approach led me to the top bar hive - one of the oldest and simplest types of beehive - that requires little skill and few tools to build. A good start on the road to simplicity, but is it a practical hive for modern beekeeping?

After some years of experimenting and testing various designs, I believe I now have a top bar hive design that is practical and productive, while being comfortable and easy to use for both the bees and the beekeeper.

So what are top bar hives? The principle is simple: a box with sticks across the top, to which bees attach their comb. Mine have low, central, side entrances, sloping sides and a pair of follower boards to enclose the colony. There are many variations on this theme and all have the essential guiding principle of simplicity of construction and of management. There are no frames, no queen excluders, no ekes, no mouse guards, no supers, no foundation and there is no need for extractors, settling tanks, filters, de-capping knives... in fact no need for any other equipment or storage space, other than that provided within the hive itself. And if you have just spent an hour leafing through suppliers' catalogues, wondering how you can possibly afford to keep bees, that will come as some relief!

Top bar beekeeping really is 'beekeeping for everyone' – including people with disabilities, bad backs, or a reluctance to lift heavy boxes: there is no heavy lifting once your hives are in place, as honey is harvested one comb at a time.

From the bees' point of view, top bar hives offer weatherproof shelter, the opportunity to build comb to their own design – without the constraints of man-made wax foundation – and minimal disturbance, thanks to a 'leave well alone' style of management.

In my book The Barefoot Beekeeper I describe the top bar hive and its management and discuss the philosophy of natural beekeeping, in which we aim to work with the natural impulses and habits of the bees, respecting the integrity of the brood chamber, leaving them ample honey stores over winter and generally arranging things in order to cause their bees as little stress and disturbance as possible.

Free DIY plans for building a top bar hive are available from my web site at http://www.biobees.com – where you will also find a support and discussion forum for top bar beekeeping.

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 26th March 2010, 4:12 pm

We have made the top bar hive now (thank you biobee for the free downable instructions )and are looking to attrack some bees...We have thousands use our land as we have accessable water and have found a place in the shade near one of the points.

Are there any ways to encourage their investigation of our hive and acceptance?

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 26th March 2010, 5:17 pm

If you can get a few old drawn combs from another beekeeper this will make the hive more attractive to a passing swarm, or you can use a pheromone lure. Not sure whether either of these methods is in keeping with the ethos of 'natural beekeeping' though.

I would think it very early in the year to be expecting swarms though, even with your more Southerly location. tends to be more late May/June here.

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 4th April 2010, 7:28 pm

Well I suspect some postie in Kent has an ideal opportunity to become a natural bee keeper as my son ordered "Barefoot Beekeeper" from Amazon, and it never arrived. One sad Wood Troll, one happy postie? Mad

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by biobee on 2nd July 2010, 1:28 pm

Sorry to hear that Zoe - send me your email address and I will send you a BDF copy.

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 7th July 2010, 10:15 pm

Thanks biobee. We managed to get a copy from amazon.fr...it has no page numbers! But a really good read. It is now very well thumbed.

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 8th July 2010, 5:01 pm

Wood Troll retrieved a swarm from 50ft up a tree in next doors pine forest (as detailed on "bees 2010") and successfully transfered them into the TBH. He inspected the hive the next day to ensure they had enough bars for the size of the swarm and they were busily working.

On the 11th day Wood Troll removed the follower board furthest from the entrance and saw this!



Beautiful!

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by chickenofthewoods on 8th July 2010, 7:28 pm

That's a lot of happy bees.

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Chi vo far 'na bona zena magn'un erb d'tut la mena
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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 8th July 2010, 8:00 pm

Is there much brood?

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 9th July 2010, 2:29 pm

Unfortunatly they have decided to make their combs at an angle so it looks like I will have to wait until the spring to sort out the mess (from my point of view) without destroying all the comb. I think I will rehive them in the spring and salvage some of the comb to make 'guides' for future comb building.

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 10th July 2010, 7:15 pm

For those that are interested in the top bar hive the bars where not shanfered like the modification suggests but more importantly we think the slight angling has been caused because I put too many bars on the hive to start with. Steve was 50ft up a tree and I had to get it ready and I put in all 14.

They started the comb in the corner of the hive to the left of the entrance hole with a small piece and built out from there, parallel to it. This seems to be their natural way. By putting in less bars between the follower boards to start with they have to conform to the human design!

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 11th July 2010, 1:06 pm

Just got to bee the first try these out...

bee bee2

like them!!! a+

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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by budburst12 on 11th July 2010, 3:17 pm

I'd love to give this a go! How did you encourage the swarming bees out of their tree and into your hive?
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default Re: Natural Beekeeping

Post by Guest on 11th September 2010, 7:59 pm

Sorry Budburst we missed your question. The full story is on page 2 of the 2010 bee thread but to summarise Woodtroll climbed up 50foot and cut off the branch they were in so it dropped down into a box just below them. All roped up so it wouldn't fall. It is not for someone who is not very good up a tree!

The genenal answer is, when they are swarming they hang together and are passive so you can cut off the branch into a box. They were then tipped gently into the hive which was shut down to one hole.

What I was going to post is that last week or so we had our first taste of real natural honey. It is absolutely amazing. I always try to buy a local bee keepers honey but never ever has it tasted this good. The flavour is very intense so you only need a thin spread on a hot slice of toast but wow it is so devine!

It really is a case of a small and slow is better! Thank you bees.

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