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Holzer Style Log Bee Hive

Zach Weiss


Joined: Oct 20, 2012
Posts: 242
Location: Montana
    
  45
Sepp has given a couple of great lessons on bees. As for colony collapse disorder, he says that this is not a disease of the bees, but rather a disease in the minds of man, and how they manage their hives. Many beekeepers keep bees in hives with plastic frames, rob their honey at the wrong time, fill their environment with toxins, truck them all over the country for pollination contracts, and are then mystified as to why they are all dying. Robbing honey in the fall often leaves bees without adequate stores for the winter, forcing beekeepers to feed sugar. If you wait to harvest until the spring, and harvest the only the excess stores, it not only ensures that the bees have enough winter stores but the honey has now been cured in the hive. Sepp said this produces a higher quality, better tasting honey. As with everything else, nature provides all the answers to the keen observer.

Sepp has talked about log hives, and straw hives. While in Austria, we built a log hive. Sepp said it is important for the bee's to have some insulation in the winter, but it is also critical for the hive to breath. This is one of the main problems with plastic hives, the plastic does not breath. If there are extra holes for air flow then the hive is vulnerable during a severe cold snap. Wood and straw are both breathable, allowing air exchange while also providing insulation. During the winter the bees generate their own heat. Air exchange is critical so that they don't suffocate.


The first step for the log hive is to find a log with a solid exterior and a rotten middle. If you can't find a rotten log that is also fine, it just takes more time and finesse. For non-rotten logs make 4 bore cuts down the length of the log and remove the square that you've made. As seen in the picture, mark a line along the outside, so you can properly line the supers up with the main body of the hive.


Use a chainsaw to hollow out the rest of the log to the proper wall thickness, which correlates to how cold the winters are in your area. This can also be done with hand tools for those that have the skill and time.


Next mark the spots for the top bars, and cut out the notches with a chisel. Make sure there is adequate space between the bars, there should be enough room for two bees to crawl between them (some say 5.4mm per bee, others say 4.5mm yields more resilient bees, but that is a topic for another discussion). Never chisel towards yourself, unless your the son of a timber framer


This is what it should look like mostly finished.


This is what a finished nice one looks like, with a spiffy window for observation, and full of bees!


Visit the Krameterhof and Holzerhof | Workshop with Sepp Holzer this August | Healing Waters
Michael Cox


Joined: Jun 09, 2013
Posts: 956
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
    
  25
Wow, those are great pictures, such a simple process too. I've thought about making some log hives but had't twigged to actually making 'supers' from the same log. Elegant solution which also simplifies hollowing out the sections.

Do you know if sepp catches swarms to fill them, or baits them and just places them out in t he landscape?
Miles Flansburg
steward

Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 2402
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
    
  63
Thanks Zach, I want to try this with some of my larger, old, aspen trees.

In Wyoming It can get down to 40 below zero for short periods of time. What thickness of wall should I be leaving?

So I have a lower log where the queen lives, then each log above that has top bars to keep her out, is that correct?

I would only harvest the top log?
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Miles Flansburg wrote:So I have a lower log where the queen lives, then each log above that has top bars to keep her out, is that correct?

I would only harvest the top log?


This is how a Perone hive works. You only harvest the top log/super. The queen is too big to go above. You leave the bottom log where the queen is alone.


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Zach Weiss wrote:This is what a finished nice one looks like, with a spiffy window for observation, and full of bees!


What is that window made of?
Hans Quistorff


Joined: Feb 25, 2012
Posts: 79
Location: Longbranch, WA
    
    1
Hmmmm!
Start the thinking process.
I have a 10 foot high stump in a good location left when the electric company topped and limbed a fir about that diameter that was starting to short out the lines. It is at the bottom of a bank so I could make a bottom hive that I would not harvest and an upper hive to catch any swarms. If they are productive enough to swarm then I might consider harvesting.

Most of the bee equipment burnt with the house but some was left in the barn. I have some super frames which I could take the bottom bar off of so the bees could make the comb the length they want. They would be nice because the side pieces have the spacers. I also have a queen excluder so I could chisel a space for that in the top super for harvesting. The top of the stump is where the tree had been previously topped and then the libs grew out into new tops which were cut off and they sealed with pitch when the tree tried to grow again but did not have any viable buds. So that should make a good lid. Should be enough stump to make a couple extra hives. wonder if my neighbors would trade for bees?


Hans Albert Quistorff, LMP
http://www.keypeninsulafarms.com/land_available.html
Michael Cox


Joined: Jun 09, 2013
Posts: 956
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
    
  25
I was thinking some more about this last night. I bet you could knock up a load of great swarm traps like this. I have some logs to work with following last months storms so may give it a go later this week. I want to put out a dozen swarm traps this year.

You can use bees trapped in a log like this to start off a series of splits using a hogan style trapout and transfer them to a top bar hive or conventional system - log goes back out as a lovely smelling trap complete with wax and brood smell.
Victor Johanson


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 267
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
    
  10
A great idea, but hopefully the bee police will stay away. This kind of hive is illegal in most places in the US, where regulations usually mandate removable frames for easy inspections. I personally think that civil disobedience to such restrictions, which were clearly instigated by industrial beekeeping (the moneygrubbing entity that created the current problem) is in order. Down with The Man!


Vic Johanson

"I must Create a System, or be enslaved by another Man's"--William Blake
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 871
Location: Burlington, NC, USA - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  28
Cj Verde wrote:This is how a Perone hive works. You only harvest the top log/super. The queen is too big to go above. You leave the bottom log where the queen is alone.


That is what I was thinking as well.


Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
Theresa Brennan


Joined: Jan 26, 2014
Posts: 18
I am intrigued by the idea of leaving honey until spring to harvest as it seems to solve the problem of needing to feed sugar water if there is not enough honey left. I am new to beekeeping and about to get bees this spring btw. So I asked on a beekeeping forum about the idea and I am told that the honey would crystallize and be difficult to harvest and of lesser quality. I am in Ohio and those talking about crystallizing were in cold winter climates also. I just wondered if you could tell me more about whether Sepp does something different to not have it crystallize or if he doesn't mind that it's crystallized? If not, then how does he harvest it? The idea sounds wonderful, just trying to put the pieces together to see if it is something that would work for me.

Here is the discussion on beesource.com: http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?293530-Harvesting-Honey-in-the-Spring-!-Sepp-Holzer-idea&p=1060726#post1060726

Thanks!
Jacob Saltzman


Joined: Feb 12, 2013
Posts: 8
Location: Sonoma Co, CA
Here is the start of a log hive I'm working on. Help up at the moment because of some carburetor issues… Should be done in a few days, Just needs some end caps and a hole...



[Thumbnail for IMG_2892.JPG]


[Thumbnail for IMG_2896.jpg]

Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Theresa Brennan wrote:I am intrigued by the idea of leaving honey until spring to harvest as it seems to solve the problem of needing to feed sugar water if there is not enough honey left.


This was not the first time I've heard this idea. If I can remember the other source, I'll post.
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
leaving enough honey for the bees to eat over winter is pretty standard practice for those of us who are interested in Warré hives . Why feed the bees crap when they need honey ? Each hive needs about 10kg .
Its mentioned in Abbé Warré's book Bee keeping for all

David


Living in Anjou , France
Michael Cox


Joined: Jun 09, 2013
Posts: 956
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
    
  25
In my experience crystallised honey comes from feeding on oilseed rape - if you have honey not contaminated with this nectar it tends to not set at all. Rape honey can set in a matter of a week or two.
Theresa Brennan


Joined: Jan 26, 2014
Posts: 18
David Livingston wrote:leaving enough honey for the bees to eat over winter is pretty standard practice for those of us who are interested in Warré hives . Why feed the bees crap when they need honey ? Each hive needs about 10kg .
Its mentioned in Abbé Warré's book Bee keeping for all

David


David,

Could you share what climate you are in and more about how you do it and your successes/failures? My library does not have that book and I wasn't planning on purchasing it since I'm not doing Warre hives so if you could share more about what it says, that would be great also!

Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Bee keeping for all.pdf
Zach Weiss


Joined: Oct 20, 2012
Posts: 242
Location: Montana
    
  45
Michael Cox wrote:Do you know if sepp catches swarms to fill them, or baits them and just places them out in t he landscape?


I'm not sure which Sepp does, I imagine that once you have a healthy colony going they will continue populating more hives if given the opportunity. For the Holzerhof he bought all sorts of insects, to reintroduce them onto the farm. If he wasn't able to find a swarm I think he would be comfortable buying one from the right kind of bee keeper.

Miles Flansburg wrote:In Wyoming It can get down to 40 below zero for short periods of time. What thickness of wall should I be leaving? So I have a lower log where the queen lives, then each log above that has top bars to keep her out, is that correct? I would only harvest the top log?


This is the way I understand it, but I am by no means a bee expert. I go with a wall thickness of at least 2 inches, probably more. By only harvesting the top log you allow the hive to continue relatively undisturbed and left with plenty of honey stores.

Cj Verde wrote:What is that window made of?


I believe plexi-glass. It was in this hive only to be able to show visitors.

Theresa Brennan wrote:I just wondered if you could tell me more about whether Sepp does something different to not have it crystallize or if he doesn't mind that it's crystallized? If not, then how does he harvest it?


I was under the impression that in an insulated hive like this, with the bees producing their own heat, the honey doesn't crystallize. Again I'm no bee expert. For harvesting there are centrifuge extractors for extracting from comb rather than frames.
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
At the moment i have nô bees but are due in two months for more information about how much honey to leave Check out Biobees .com lots of folks there with more experiance than me about TBH And Warre there.
I live about 40km from where Abbé Warre lived in Angers France nô idea what American zone thingy it is but I know folks keep warres in Alaska I'm told its cold there too
Many folks harvest on the 8th August
How much honey do you need ?
A full Warre box is over 12 kg thats 36 normal jars
I just want two boxes a year thats enough for me And a little to trade with
Crush And strain direct into the jars

David
Matthew Groves


Joined: Apr 23, 2013
Posts: 4
Zach Weiss wrote:I was under the impression that in an insulated hive like this, with the bees producing their own heat, the honey doesn't crystallize. Again I'm no bee expert. For harvesting there are centrifuge extractors for extracting from comb rather than frames.


All honey is supersaturated, and will crystalize eventually. Some crystalizes very quickly, and others not for a while. It depends on nectar source and other factors.

55F is the temperature at which honey crystalizes the quickest, but that's only compared to other temperatures, not other nectar sources. Rapeseed, for instance, crystalizes both very quickly and with such hardness that beekeepers find it impossible to use an extractor.

Bees will keep the cluster in the 90sF even during the winter, and that cluster will be next to the honey.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Zach Weiss wrote:Never chisel towards yourself, unless your the son of a timber framer


I'm not so sure that even the son of a timber framer should wear sandals while chainsawing.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
FYI, I've made a thread at biobees.
Zach Weiss


Joined: Oct 20, 2012
Posts: 242
Location: Montana
    
  45
Cj Verde wrote:I'm not so sure that even the son of a timber framer should wear sandals while chainsawing.


haha, I'm pretty sure that no one should ever wear sandals while chainsawing, who would ever be so foolish?!
Michael Cox


Joined: Jun 09, 2013
Posts: 956
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
    
  25
Nothing short of full on chainsaw safety boots makes a difference - a chainsaw will munch through tough leather as quickly as sandles. Difference being the guy in sandles is probably more aware of where his feet are!
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
I supposed that's true but hatchets and chisels are not sandal friendly either & boots will make a difference.
justus bernhard


Joined: Feb 17, 2014
Posts: 1
dear zach!
there is nothing new and nothing invented by sepp holzer published by this topic!
log hives are used since hundreds of years in beekeeping and they were the first step in developing the "modern bee hives".
when you are using pictures, please publish them under the correct references.
the pictures showing the vertical log hive, its' building and the observation hive are not sepp holzers origin.
the pictures are showing my beehives in my place in the austrian alps and I'm not sepp holzer - you know.
yours thomas.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
I don't think Zach implied that Sepp invented log hives. As for the pics....
Zach Weiss


Joined: Oct 20, 2012
Posts: 242
Location: Montana
    
  45
I apologize, I didn't mean to give the impression that Sepp invented these hives or not give credit where credit is due. Log hives are the type of hive that Sepp recommends, along with those made of straw. My post is a combination of Sepp's bee lecture in Duluth last year and a day of the Austrian workshop when we built a log hive with Thomas. The pictures were taken by me and are of a beautiful hive that Thomas built.

The only reason I did not credit you Thomas is that you asked for pictures revealing the location, or your identity, to not go on the internet. Did I misunderstand this? I didn't want to give you troubles with "the man" as Victor alluded to... The other people on the trip had the same impression, as they reminded me to be careful not to divulge your identity or location, per your request...
Theresa Brennan


Joined: Jan 26, 2014
Posts: 18
David Livingston wrote:leaving enough honey for the bees to eat over winter is pretty standard practice for those of us who are interested in Warré hives . Why feed the bees crap when they need honey ? Each hive needs about 10kg .
Its mentioned in Abbé Warré's book Bee keeping for all

David


Someone posted a link to Abbe Warre's book "Beekeeping for All" and I looked to see what it says as I am intrigued with this idea, but it says to harvest end of Aug or early Sept:

"The honey harvest must be at the end of August, or later, at the beginning of September.
At the end of August or the beginning of September, the bees will not gather any more honey. The
flowers disappear or the temperature gets cold again preventing the rise of nectar.
This is the moment to inspect the hives and take account of the state of stores; reducing them if
there is too much, making them up where they are not sufficient."

Is there something else in the book that says different?
Theresa Brennan


Joined: Jan 26, 2014
Posts: 18
David Livingston wrote:At the moment i have nô bees but are due in two months for more information about how much honey to leave Check out Biobees .com lots of folks there with more experiance than me about TBH And Warre there.
I live about 40km from where Abbé Warre lived in Angers France nô idea what American zone thingy it is but I know folks keep warres in Alaska I'm told its cold there too
Many folks harvest on the 8th August
How much honey do you need ?
A full Warre box is over 12 kg thats 36 normal jars
I just want two boxes a year thats enough for me And a little to trade with
Crush And strain direct into the jars

David


David,
I just saw your this new post and I understand now that you weren't saying that "Beekeeping for All" suggested harvesting in the spring, you were saying it suggested leaving enough honey for the bees for overwintering.. I didn't read close enough. That is what I found the book to say also. I was looking for info on the practicality of spring harvesting and thought that is what you were referring to. I did see another post that mentions that the hive should be insulated enough to keep the honey from crystallizing so that is helpful for what I was wondering.
Betty Lamb


Joined: Feb 17, 2014
Posts: 28
Location: Vancouver Island, Zone??
Wow, if I wasn't afraid of chainsaws I'd totally do this!


sssstruth!
George Meljon


Joined: Jul 28, 2013
Posts: 207
Location: Southern Indiana zone 6a
    
    2
A recent bee keeping class taught that the screen at the bottom of the white bee boxes allows for mites to drop off and not regain access to the bees. Is this a concern with this log design? Is this a real concern? Perhaps local to Indiana? I know these bee boxes are not cheap so I'd like to know if this log design can replace the white bee boxes.

Edit: Also, briefly, how do you harvest from these hives and do they regenerate afterwards? What is the lifespan of one of these logs? Thanks!
David Livingston
pollinator

Joined: Apr 24, 2013
Posts: 970
Location: Anjou ,France
    
  29
Theasa
To my way of thinking if a book recommends trying to save honey not bees then you have to ask what the authors prioritys are ? Honey or Bees?
Many people think that it would be good to get bees , sell honey make money unfortunetly they find themselves in a money equipment honey spiral . I intend to stay small And simple.
I know a chap who harvests his Warres in Spring/ summer as do others who follow a biodynamic philosophy , like everything in beekeeping there are many paths

David
Ryan Workman


Joined: Sep 11, 2013
Posts: 34
    
    1
This is how a Perone hive works. You only harvest the top log/super. The queen is too big to go above. You leave the bottom log where the queen is alone.

The queen not going up has nothing to do with her size unless you use a queen excluder. I haven't used an excluder in my Langstroth hive and haven't had a problem with the queen moving into the supers. There is a school of thought that thinks honey is a natural queen excluder, but to every rule there is an exception in bee keeping. Bees do what bees do

Zach, I can't tell if the entrance is on the bottom or the top of the log hive pictures you posted. I hope it is the top because that provides better ventilation for the bees. Very cool looking hive, thanks for posting the pictures.
Zach Weiss


Joined: Oct 20, 2012
Posts: 242
Location: Montana
    
  45
George Meljon wrote:A recent bee keeping class taught that the screen at the bottom of the white bee boxes allows for mites to drop off and not regain access to the bees. Is this a concern with this log design? Is this a real concern?


My opinion is that if the bees have mites it is indicative of an imbalance somewhere in the environment. I've heard that smaller more wild-type bees have less of a problem with mites, as they are able to pull the mites off of their own backs. Perhaps these bees don't produce as much honey, and it goes back to are you keeping bees for the honey or for the bees.

One recommendation that Sepp made for mites is to plant lavender, thyme, and other plants rich in essential oils near the entrance of the hive. The bees fly through plant each time they enter and leave, and the essential oils provide additional protection against the mites.

George Meljon wrote:how do you harvest from these hives and do they regenerate afterwards? What is the lifespan of one of these logs?


The instructor for this workshop explained that in harvesting these hives you have to cut the comb from the side of the log (as there are no frames to remove). You then can use an extruder designed for comb to extract the honey. You harvest a super to leave the rest of the hive in tact. As this was my first experience with these hives I can't speak to their lifespan. One point made was that if the bees build their own comb each year (rather than re-using it) this reduces the chance for disease, moths, and mites.
Jorja Hernandez


Joined: Jan 23, 2011
Posts: 78
    
    1
Wow. This is certainly the most beautiful bee dwelling I've seen. I've got the trees, the chainsaw and the sandals - must make one! Last year a wild hive spent a few days at my goat barn before moving on, wish I'd had a home like this to offer.

(Probably weird) question:

Is it necessary to harvest the honey at all? I want bees for pollination and because they're such cool little critters to have around but aside from small amounts for medicinal purposes I rarely use honey.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Jorja Hernandez wrote:
Is it necessary to harvest the honey at all?


I think the issue is that if you don't harvest the honey, the bees run out of space to make more bees and if that happens the bees will swarm.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3128
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
George Meljon wrote:A recent bee keeping class taught that the screen at the bottom of the white bee boxes allows for mites to drop off and not regain access to the bees. Is this a concern with this log design?


It's sort of a catch-22. The conventional boxes have removable frames & you open up the hive to fiddle with things and this changes the temperature & humidity in the hive & stresses the bees out leaving them more susceptible to disease. Most states require removable frames - why - to inspect for disease - which makes the bees more susceptible to disease.

This log design is technically illegal in most states.

Having said that, it would be much easier to make a perone or warre hive than a log style. Also, according to Phil Chandler over at biobees.com, less likely to give you a hernia when trying to harvest the honey.
Michael Cox


Joined: Jun 09, 2013
Posts: 956
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
    
  25
I've been playing around mentally with a hybrid topbar/log hive

Horizontal orientation. Cut a side slab off the log - this will later form a roof.

Use the chainsaw to hollow out a canoe shape from the main log. Sloping sides, approximately uniform depth and pitch.

Use a hammer and chisel to notch to top surface to sink top bars so that the lid will fit on tightly.

Advantages -

  • legal in most areas as it is possible to manipulate comb
  • great depth of insulation due to thickness of log walls
  • opens up possibility for simple comb manipulations - honey harvest, making splits etc...
  • Jorja Hernandez


    Joined: Jan 23, 2011
    Posts: 78
        
        1
    Cj Verde wrote:
    Jorja Hernandez wrote:
    Is it necessary to harvest the honey at all?


    I think the issue is that if you don't harvest the honey, the bees run out of space to make more bees and if that happens the bees will swarm.


    Ah! Yes, that makes sense. Thanks!

    I can't imagine honey is too hard to get rid of seeing as how I'm the only person I know who hates the taste, LOL.
    Cory Collins


    Joined: Jul 28, 2013
    Posts: 34
    Location: McKinney, Tx
    I'd like to think that someday I could take this to the county hobby beekeepers meeting and say "remember when we used to need power tools to make beehives?"


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