Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learning a new Way to Keep Bees

Eric and I were taught to keep bees using Langstroth hives. That is how our bee guru taught us, and that was the way everyone in our beekeeping group worked their bees. We were taught to use medicines preventively and many manipulation techniques. Both of us pretty much went along with what we were taught for the first two years, or so. Our main bee book was Beekeeping for Dummies. Whereas the book is excellent, with lots of good information, it is a book for keeping bees in Langstroth hives, and purchasing all the equipment that this method of beekeeping suggests. Well, we just didn’t set up the bees and keep this up. We kept reading about bees and beekeeping, both from older text, and from more modern sources and we came to the conclusion that top bar beekeeping, naturally, was much more the manner we would like to keep bees and we will make a transition to it. Last year, a friend on facebook, named Kristen, shared plans with me on how to construct the top bar hive. One of the men in our beekeeping group made one, following these instructions, and he and another member tried to hive some bees in it, and failed. Well, since then I have been trying to read and learn more about it and one of the sources I am using is Phil Chandler’s site, The Barefoot Beekeeper. On that site is a great free eBook and access to all his articles free. Phil is a strong advocate for natural beekeeping and I am making time to learn all I can from him. He takes you step by step on how to start natural top bar beekeeping here. I am a book person, so I will be getting his book too:) For all you people who are technically inclined, he offers podcasts for all the latest devices.

I have several friends who use top bars and so have found a couple of lovely blogs to follow. A new friend named Marcia, lives in New Zealand and writes about her adventures with top bar hives, at blog Kiwi Beekeeping Top Bar Hives.I have just started learning all this folks, so join me and lets learn together:) Top bar beekeeping is better for the environment, better for the bees, and better for us for the afore mentioned reasons, and the considerations of cost, equipment and heaviness of keeping bees in Langstroth hives. Now I will share this, for the last couple of years I have not been using the premade wax foundations we are told to purchase to use in the Langstroth hives. I have let the bees build natural comb, even in the honey super, and they have built their comb naturally and I have been able to even  harvest some honey. I just started using the crush and strain method instead of dragging my supers to my beekeeping guru’s house, and using his extractor. The wax is useful when making my herbal salves and ointments and I hope to dabble in candle making someday:) It is nice knowing that my honey and wax are both chemical free and natural!

Well that is it for today. I need to go get supper made as it is my Aunt’s birthday and I would like to go bring her some jelly, flowers and a card afterwards. There are as many ways to keep bees as their our beekeepers. You will have to make your own choices along the way and the bees will teach you also:) I am just sharing here where Eric and I are at in our thoughts for beekeeping. You will have to weigh the pros and cons of either using Langstroth or top bar hives. There are even other types. We just feel that top bar hives is the right choice for us and we invite you to follow us as we learn and hopefully, begin this method this spring:)

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages



Anke said...

It all sounds very interesting. I can't wait to see where your beekeeping journey will take you..
Have a great week,

Bentham Bees said...

Sounds like a convert to top-bar hives! Welcome! I'm still very much a beginner, but find the bees absolutely fascinating. Another book well worth reading - The Buzz About Bees : The Biology of a Superorganism (Jurgen Tautz). Loads of facts well explained and amazing photos too (preview on Amazon).

Anonymous said...

Hi Leslie, I'm very much looking forward to your bee posts. My husband and I did a bee keeping course last year and we'd love to get some hives though we don't have the space right now. I'm sure I'll get lots of inspiration from you for when we do!
Lucinda x

Comfrey Cottages said...

Thank you Anke! I am excited to begin a new way of beekeeping:) You have a great week alsoxx
Thank you for the book referral Bentham, (sorry I do not know another name to call you by). I am so glad you found my blog so I could find yours. So cool you just started top bar beekeeping recently:)
Lucinda, maybe the option of putting a hive on a friend or relatives land? In the meantime, you will benefit by exploring the craft before you start anyway:) Enchanting little creatures, aren't they? xx