I’ve decided to take up beekeeping this summer. Signed up for a practical course in organic beekeeping and dived right into the study of small scale beekeeping.
At first I thought I knew a thing or two about bees, flowers, honey and.. that’s it right? Well it quickly became apparent to me that the life of bees and bee colonies isn’t that straight forward at all. So if I want to learn how to be a decent beekeeper I’d would have to study to know what these little insects do in their daily business and need in order to thrive. Something or someone has to pollinate the flowers of the fruits ‘n veggies and of course supply us with fresh organic honey while leaving plenty for the bee colony to survive throughout the cold winter months.
Next to the course given by two veteran organic beekeepers, I’ve started to consume as much information I could on the ever mighty internet about the behavior and biology of bees. Learning about their evolution, biology, behavior, habits, environments, communications, diseases, parasites etc.
Quickly it became apparent that bees are in a lot of trouble nowadays with viruses spreading uninhibited between colonies. Mainly through a parasite called “Varroa Destructor”. A small beebloodsucking mite originally from southeast Asia but spread worldwide since the 90’s. This mite is one of the main vector for many bee diseases and viruses finishing off colonies all over the world. The other main vector for the spread of bee death is of course the ignorant, unconscious beekeeper. So it is quite easy to do beekeeping wrong and take down not only my own colony of bees, but also those of the other beekeepers around me. By the spread of viruses and parasites through sick bees that visit other beehives. So a beekeeper in the 21st century should do the necessary homework to be as informed and conscious possible of his/her colony 😉
Thanks to heaps of lectures from remarkable beekeepers like Tom Seeley and Randy Oliver I’ve become quite confident that I know what to look for during a hive inspection and how to intervene when things go south in the bee colony. Also thanks to the course given by the two beekeepers I’m learning how to “not piss off the bees and get stung to death” during hive inspections 😉 ,how to handle a bee colony and even how to catch a swarm and propagate a second colony from that swarm. So I’ve decided to get my hands dirty this summer and start keeping my own bee colony.
Step one! Beehive
Not just any beehive. My beehive. As a woodworker I decided to design and build my own. Learning what rules and measurements to apply from other hives and mix up different ideas and designs into my own bee colony heaven. (bees don’t care though, for all they’re concerned they’re still living inside a hollow tree. The beekeeper is just an occasional invader). Bees have no concept of a beehive and they’ll start building comb in any cavity which is high and dry. So behold below the pictures of the end result of my beehive build.
It’s based on an “einraumbeute” or “golden hive” with some adjustments when it comes to ventilation and temperature differences between the inside and outside of the box itself. The average temperature of a bee colony is 35C /95F even during cluster hibernation in the winter (not bad for a cold blooded insect) So a common problem in other beehives is condensation buildup due to the thin walls and eventually soaking the bees in their own exhaled moisture.
Thats why I gave the outside of the beehive another layer of wood like we do on a lot of building facades which act as a wind/heat break and allows for moisture to flow out.
The next step will be obtaining a Swarm or Colony and introduce them to the beehive! In this thread I’ll post progress and pictures as I learn along and hopefully I’ll get my first colony through the next winter!
saving this topic for later, love it! 😀
I strongly suggest reading about Oscar Perone and his PermaApiculture. He shares the idea to start over our relationship with bees, in a more respectfull and mutually convenient way. He sais ‘the hive is an conciouss entity, who’s cells fly off..’ He also gives away plans for building you own structures.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.