Michael Cox wrote:
On that basis I find the idea of individuals planting "a lavender bush for the bees" rather laughable.
That probably would be laughable. I'm thinking of rebuilding hedges with a variety of flowering perennial shrubs and bushes. Integrating late flowering Trees into a food forest and doing some consulting with the local forester, as well as keeping this aspect in mind in any action in the garden. It is by no means limited to a zone 1 garden, or a small urban lot, but needs to be kept in mind when structuring zone 4 any beyond.
but his conclusion is something, which points into a good direction:
It may be time for the beekeeping industry to shift its paradigm from managing boxes to really thinking about good husbandry of the critters inside. Think of each box as having a living animal inside. Don’t be afraid to invest in their nutrition, either by moving them to better pasture, or by feeding them in place.
My approach to investing in their nutrition would be: plant a good mix of bee forage plants - pollen matters!
But I see the dilemma of a conventional pro beekeeper - my approach is probably difficult to scale to several 1000 hives.
Michael Cox wrote:IN which case... why not go for a conventional Langstroth or similar and just leave well alone? Put on enough boxes that they have the option to expand to a good size, introduce a swarm and let them sort it out for themselves.
Michael has a point here. It probably matters more, how you manage the hives, than the actual geometry of the hive. One argument more to start with the warré hive, your brother already has, observe and learn from the bees. The warré as well as the langstroth hives, have the big advantage, that you can adjust their size, according to your bees demands. All beekeeping is local...
Warre Hive - might be a good way to learn about bee keeping. If you have some experience with this, you have a better starting point to reduce the amount of work that needs to go into bee keeping, to keep them thriving. With bees it takes a true master to do (almost) nothing.
if it is pollination you are after - why focus on 'honey' bees? Are the systems you are designing really dependent on the pollination services from the honey bee? What about building habitat for other pollinators? Pollination from honey bees is only needed, if you have a lot of crop flowering very early in the year. A cherry or an apple orchard might be such a case. The honey bee as a pollinator has the one big benefit over other pollinators, that they winter in huge numbers and thus can provide massive pollination services very early in the year. Bumble bees on the other hand winter as Queen only. They take some time to develop their numbers, but bee by bee they have the better pollination ratio.
In a STUN hive scenario, as discussed, you very often will loose this essential quality of the honey bees. There are no huge numbers of bees very early in the year, if they don't make it through the winter. Instead you will have to wait for the first swarms in may. Depending on your orchard, thats a little late in the year.
I compare keeping bees without a honey harvest, to keeping chicken without eating them. If you ignore one of the main aspects of a design element, you probably are running into trouble.
the question about the hive type suitable for something is actually depending on what you want to achieve. If you are going for STUN (with total), there is no need to observe the hive, or have the ability to analyse what is going on in it. The moment you go for strategic or minimal invasive, or some other not so absolute non interference, the hive becomes a tool for the beekeeper to achieve some goal. E.g. chemical free bee keeping. Both the bees and the beekeepers needs should thus be reflected.
A hive for STUN (with total) will provide no honey harvest (but pollination), and will look much like thomas seeleys swarm boxes. It will have a volume of 40-50l, all natural comb, no means to open it for the bee keeper, neither frames nor movable top bars. The entrance will be small and at the bottom of the hive. Good insulation and good ventilation will help the bees. The wachs moth will deal with old comb and if the bee density is high enough in your area, swarms from your neighbours will populate this box every one or two years. You will put it at least 5m high up into a tree and there is only one every 150m. This hive type would be probably illegal in many regions.
If you are going for something more productive (in terms of honey), the answer is much more complex, will probably also include natural comb, probably a brood chamber of 40-50l volume. It probably will be splitted like a perone hive, into a bees part and a beekeepers part. But you will want at least movable Top-Bars to inspect the hive and help the bees if needed. The beekeepers part, might actually contain traditional frames, to make honey harvest less destructive for the bees and less stressfull for beekeeper and bees.
But hive design is influenced by what you want to achieve, thus the discussion, if a STUN approach is possible at all, and if it is desirable.
that would give us an upper bound, a maximum number of hives that can survive without drowning in "little darlings". The actual number of surviving swarms is probably even lower, since a real healthy colony can produce way more than one or two swarms, and a really healthy queen can live for more than one year.
The claim, that there are stable populations of wild bees in the UK (sadly) is most probably wrong. According to Catherine Thomson, there are only three locations in the UK, where it is likey that feral honey bees could survive till today. (Bee Craft Article from 2010). Theese are Ennerdale Forest, Tywi Forest and Wark Forest near Kielder. Only in Wark forest, she actually could find bees. All other known unmanaged bee hives (a whopping 20 in the UK) seemed to be escaped swarms from beekeepers in the area, where different swarms repeatedly inhabitet the same location. (No surprise in our tidy environment, where good locations for bees are rare)
I'd be glad to hear from france, if the situation is better there. In germany it certainly is not.
thats the first time I hear about this number of 50% - do you have a source on which you base this seemingly wild claim?
According to gene typing of collected drones from drone aggregration places in europe, the density of wild bees is very low, close to zero. Almost to a level, that we have to think about them as beeing extinct, so please give me your source, I'd be very happy to learn about wild honey bees in europe.
Well actually STUN has been done with bees. But it is nothing that can be done by the inexperienced.
One of the best known examples of something similar to STUN is the "Bond Method" (Live or let die), by John Kefuss. A Method to select for bees that can survive chemical free bee keeping.
To avoid the massive losses he experienced (and which have been experienced everywhere in the world, where something similar has been done) he later proposed the "Soft Bond Method"
Even under best conditions, you have to face the fact, that you will experience huge losses. I quote Kefuss: “I would have been happy with 10% survival.”
I usually would suggest you start reading. But unless you speak german, my suggestions are very limited, since I don't know the english book market.
But perhaps there are knowledgeble pleople here in the forum and have some good suggestions? Even older books often hold a lot of knowledge to get you started plus have the benefit, they don't focus on the different medical treatments availiable.
One good book, that will you get started in telling what is going on in the hive is the english translation of an older german book I know. (Am Flugloch - Heinrich Storch) You can find the english version - At The Hive Entrance - online at biobees.
this depends. If you have package bees, they need to build their first comb fast. Otherways the queen can't start laying eggs. This means they need a lot of food (sugar/nectar). If and only If you are on a strong honey-flow (something you probably can't tell with your limited experience) it is not necessary to feed the bees at all. In May, you usually need to feed twice, each 2-4 kg of sugar diluted 1:1 with water, (in march up to 4 times, every 5 days) Afterwards the bees should have drawn enough comb to keep them going on the natural honeyflow. Contrary to common beleive, the bees don't need more food to draw natural comb than to draw comb from wachs foundation. (don't use plastic foundation- if any) You can stop feeding, if they build 5 to 6 frames of comb.
In later years, if you want to expand your apiary with a new package, you can use diluted honey to do the start.
* A Shady Spot sounds indeed like a good idea. It is here (climate 6-7).
* Feeding - Learn to monitor your landscape. Is there a honey flow? Is there enough pollen? As a beekeeper, you will soon learn to watch your surroundings with very different eyes than before.
+ If you have a langstroth hive, it is easy to lift the hive with one hand to check, if there is enough storage left. You will soon get a feel for this. In an emergency it is always better to feed the bees, than let them starve. If you have some honey harvest left, feed them their own honey back, if not - feed them a sugarsolution. Never buy honey in the supermarket to feed the bees. This honey might be contaminated with paenibacillus larvae (american foulbrood), there is no cure against this. If a hive is too light, before you blame the bees, check if it is your fault - was your harvest a little more, than they could spare? Selecting and breeding for a local bee is a good idea, but you need more than one hive to have something to select from.
* Langstroth hive and frames - Of course you can run a langstroth hive foundationless, you can even run it as a top bar hive. But there is one big difference to a horizontal TBH. In a langstroth hive, the bees need to move vertically through the hive. This means, you need to reduce the width of your top bars to 28mm and make sure there is an open gap of 7mm (beespace) betweeen the bars. (two small nails at one side of the top bar will do the trick) It is important to get those measurements very precisely, otherwise you are better of to work your langstroth similar to a perone hive mk1. (Checking with the way perone keeps bees, is probably not a bad idea at all)
* buckwheat - if you like buckwheat honey - ok. (I do, but I know a lot of people who don't) But remember, that buckwheat is in flower for two to three months only. What about the rest of the season? Diversification is the key.
* protective gear - a good investment - especially if you are new to beekeeping. Did I say - don't panic? Bees know if you are scared, your movements are not slow and steady, you smell differently. Some protection especially for your face, might give you that additional feeling of safety, that allows you to handle the bees in a beefriendly manner. Try to work without gloves if you can, gloves hinder your sense of touch, but don't be ashamed to wear a light veil to protect your face.
One good point to start, when thinking about the maximum numbers of hives your land can support, is to remeber, that naturally bees would live in solitude.
This means you would at least have a distance of 150m between any two bee hives. For practical purposes, you still will want to cluster them. Two or three hives will probably be fine.
But of course, those hives will already be in competition with each other and with your native bees. (Remember honey bees are not native to north america)
Dr. Ritter (a german bee scientist specialising in 'naturnahe Bienenhaltung') gives a numer of 10-20 hives in the flight radius of your hives as optimal bee densitiy. Up to 40 hives in this area will be ok. Everything above this ... well you get the picture.
I'm with you regarding the clothing of the beekeeper. In a way it is a tradeoff. If you want to go easy with the smoke and stop selecting for calm bees, you will need protective gear. Gentle handling of the bees alone will go a long way, but there are limits. So a clear No to 'no gloves' and 'no other protective gear'. (Even though I avoid gloves, because I feel clumsy with them)
No queen manipulation on the other hand, is probably a dead end. No marking, ok. No wing clipping, very ok. No controled propagation on the other hand, is definitely not the way to go.
If you want to run an apiary and don't want to be dependent on buying queens, you need to raise your own. To depend on buying packages/nucs, or on catching chance swarms, or beeing presented with a hive from a neighbour, even bartering for one is not sustainable.
To have healthy bee hives, which can provide a surplus (of honey, pollination, propolis - you name it) you need the best nurture for the queen bees you can get. Queens from swarm cells are fine, queens from supersedure are fine, queens from splits - not so much - unless they had a swarm cell to start with. But the second I transplant such a (swarm) queen cell, I do manipulate a queen. (literally)
I would like something like - 'no introduction of foreign stock' (to keep or increase stock numbers) in the brown belt and above (yes - no catching of swarms, except your own). And make experience with different queen rearing techniques a part of green belt.
both freezing and cooking are methods to kill trichinella.
freezing: 10 days below a temperature of -23°C (-9.4F)
cooking: a core temperature of the meat above 70°C (158F)
This was once a serious problem - in 1900 about 15000 Cases in germany alone. Those numbers dropped in about 50 years to almost 0, after the "Trichinenschau" was introduced. We don't want to go back to those numbers, do we?
Joseph Fields wrote:I see your point on checking livers, ...
Well I meant 'beeing healthy' in a more general way. If you are able to check the liver (when slaughtering), you were probably also able to control the feed of the pig beforehand. If you did this, you could manage to feed the pig in a way, that the metabolism of the pig can cope with the remaining toxins. (or get sick) Yes the liver is a big detoxification organ and thus will contain the highest amounts of toxins found in the pig, but only to an extend, that your own metabolism is fit to cope with. In addition the old saying of paracelsus 'Dosis facit venenum' will hold true here also. Don't eat too much of the pig. Eat a diversified diet and include some nice pork every now and then, and it will not only be not unhealty, but delicious and healthy for you.
An infection with trichinella on the other hand is something very different. This is something to reckon with, and thus absolutely mandatory to have a slaughtered pig checked for this. It also is probably something the people who started to treat pigs as unclean where faced with, but could not distinguish from a healthy pig.
High Carbon kitchen knives - I immediatly think 'windmühlen-messer'.
All knives if "nicht rostfrei" are high carbon. I use a simple "Klassiker" knife for 11,-€ as all purpose knife.
"Nicht rostfrei" means - "will rust if not dryed immediatley after usage", but they are really sharp and stay sharp, and can be sharpened.
paul wheaton wrote:If you are going to add a whole bunch of artificial stuff to the indoor stuff - why not put at least that amount into the outdoor stuff?
because we have won nothing that way. Especially if you raise your small amount of transplants in or very near the house, starting those direct seeds with the same amount of work/investment further away would be no benefit.
Still - simple, proven methods, for direct starting of tomatoe seeds, would be great.
(will start my own experiments in the coming year.)
here is something you can try. (I actually never tried it, so I don't know if it works on permies.) For some broswers, e.g. for Firefox there are plugins, which can modify the "Default User Agent" of your browser. Most web-pages use this "User Agent" to determine if you are using a mobile device or not. The plugin adds a small menu to your browser, that allows to switch to some known "User Agent"s. Switch to some Desktop-Browser and you should be done.
But be reminded, unless you switch the "User Agent" back to 'default', all web sites, might be fooled to think you are running a desktop. (And behave accordingly)
There are some nice pictures in this thread.
I like cob, but I'd also like to get rid of the barrel. (a cooking plate is fine)
I don't like the looks of the barrel, plus I imagine it is probably too hot to touch and thus prone to accidents.
I understand that the functions of the barrel are many. It works as a radiator and cools the gasses quick enough to create downwards pull. (Both reasons, why I can't simply cover the barrel with cob)
My question: is there any development going on, to design a rmh without the barrel? (A nice - no mentioning of a barrel in "rocket mass heater", thus we could even stick with the name)
(still a DIY version, lots of reading doesn't hurt)
Apples store very differently, but as a rule of thumb, early ripening apples tend to store badly, whilest later ripening varieties store better. (At least that was true, for traditionally grown european varieties)
Well hate to say it, but it sounds a lot like a massive varroa infestation followed by a swarming act for purification reasons. Can you get pictures of the remaining comb? You can tell a lot from the remains of the comb, what has happened. A variation of the szenario could be, that the colony got weak, maybe because of a massive varroa infestation (if pesticides can be excluded) and got robbed by another bee hive afterwards. You would find almost no bees, no honey storage, but the comb would probably be slightly damaged by the feeding frency of the robbing bees. (Or maybe wasps)
If wasps are the culprit, the damage to the comb usually is more dramatic and you find dead bees on the bottom board, or in front of the hive entrance. If you can get a picture, I can try to do a better diagnosis. Still very difficult to do with only a picture at hand.
there are hybrid modules combining solar heat gain with photovoltaic electricity production. They sound nice, beause photovoltaics needs low temperatures to work best. The water used for solar heat gain, provides some cooling. Problem is, unless you have a huge demand for hot water, (Think swimming pool) on a good sunny day your heat storage is already hot and will heat the panels instead of cooling them. You should really run your numbers, to determine how much hybrid and how much pure photovoltaic panels you need, to get your optimum.
Jennifer is absolutely right. No need for an entrance reducer, if the hive is strong and you are not in a dearth and simultanously feeding. But a mouse guard will become vital, if temperatures drop to a point, where the bees start to cluster in the hive. You can check with your local supplier or just use some wire cloth, 5.5 - 6.5 mm and pinch it over the otherwise open bee entrance.
painting your bee hive is not necessary, if you provide weather proofing. Much like a cob house - big hat and dry boots. Never paint the inside of a bee hive, and if you paint the outside of the hive, use a paint free of any toxins. Boiled linseed oil is fine, but beware of toxic desiccants. Often lead salts are used for this purpose, to reduce drying time of boiled linseed oil. So make sure, you don't get a paint with theese. Never paint a hive, while you have bees in it, give it at least a week between painting and introducing bees to a painted box.