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What type of hive would be best for Sheer Total and Utter Neglect?

 
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Well, I HOPE to have some interesting & positive results to share. Might be just killing more bees in ways I haven't encountered yet. Will report successes & failures. Will need some time after spring for the "normal" bees to ramp up first.  
 
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I am becoming increasingly convinced that the single best step we can take for managing bees in a sustainable way is to proactively make splits from our best colonies each spring. Everything else seems to be peripheral low value stuff by comparison.

I'll outline in the context of my own beekeeping:

1) I overwinter approximately 12 full sized hives.
2) Each summer I make splits from my colonies, using queen cells from my best few hives.
3) The splits get put into 6 frame poly nucs (highly insulating) and allowed to build up until autumn.
4) They get checked in late autumn to ensure they have stores - I give them a frame or two of capped honey if they are short, from another hive.

Over winter I invariably lose some colonies. But the nucs are there ready and waiting.

Over a few years of doing this my stock has improved - my losses are about the same, but more colonies are strong and healthy in the spring. This method allows me to ignore the mites - if I lose a colony or two it doesn't matter. I also rarely feed; but this is as much to do with whether you take too large a honey harvest or not.

So this is not really a "STUN" technique, but it lets me ignore all of the other worries that beekeepers seem to have.
 
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Down through history, monks kept bees as a part of the food production for their monastery.  I visited ancient cave churches in Cappadocia Turkey, where monastic orders were first established in the 3rd and 4th centuries, and then continued for over 1500 years.  You could see how they created hive space in their caves, with little holes where the bees would enter and exit.

Their technique/strategy was to make their hives out of wicker -- basically, they were baskets.  Google "Bohemian beehive".  The hives were cheep and easily constructed, and also highly combustable if they wanted to burn them.

Every summer, they'd split their best colonies and start new ones, and every fall, they'd take the worst colonies, remove all the honey, and then would burn the hives (bees and all).  Basically, they would cull the poorest performing hives from their group and start over the next year.  It was a kind of forced darwinian natural selection.  If you do this year after decade after century, you're going to end up with only the strongest and most productive bees.  

The honey bees we have today are the biological off-spring of those old monastic bee colonies.  
 
Mike Barkley
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Every summer, they'd split their best colonies and start new ones



Still a very good idea to do that. Genetics aside ... worst case you can easily replace winter losses. Best case you can expand the bee yard each year or just sell the extra bees.

Simply ran out of time to install some in logs this year. Did let several swarms, well, swarm up there in Sasquatch mountains though. Logs will be a high priority item next spring. Stay tuned.
 
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Alright... it is officially time to resurrect my old thread.

As of today... I just retired from the military. I am going to start a new career now and am done moving every 1 to 3 years FINALLY!!!

Within the next few weeks I will be allegedly closing on a home with 7.88 acres of land in South Eastern Virginia. It is mostly cleared/fenced already and planted in grass that was set to feed several horses.

Step 1: I plan to add Alfalfa, white dutch, and red clover seed EVERYWHERE this fall.  

I will also build a small paver platform off on the edge of the micro patch of woods that still remains. All while joining a local honeybee group I have found already (old co-workers).

I hope by the following Summer I will have a solid 7 acres of clover stand to jump start a new colony or two.

My land is surrounded by seemingly endless old-growth woods as well. 50% of the established pasture is Silvopasture (But without the profitable wood types)... with occasional large trees that almost form a thin canopy for dappled sunlight.

~Marty

 
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Welcome neighbor! I’m in Maryland, near Annapolis.
I don’t have them at my fingertips, but there are people in the area who do treatment free. One has a business model of managing the hives he sells, but might be convinced to sell you a nuc. The other is in Maryland, and definitely sells nucs and survivor queens. If you plan to buy rather than swarm trap, they might be preferable, as my experience with packages has been poor!
 
Marty Mitchell
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@Lina Joana

Thank you for the offer! I may shoot you a PM when the time comes.

I am definitely interested in either catching truly wild swarms or purchasing from folks who do treatment-free.

They other day I spotted the smallest honey bee I have ever seen in my life out in the yard hear at what will be my old home. I do hope there are wild swarms up that way to catch with small bees like that! That will ward off a lot of the issues most likely.

Max-production is not what I seek with my bees. It is max resiliency/lowest maintenance.

The guys with hives that I will be working with are just 10min from the new home. They have been having issues with bears getting into and tearing their hives up. So I shall also have to make them bear proof/resistant (if that is even possible). I am thinking cattle panels hard screwed to 4x4s that are concreted into the ground.
 
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HI! You can plant alfalfa there but make sure you don't give it to horses...alfalfa in the south contains blister beetles, and one beetle will kill a horse.  Only western alfalfa is safe for horses.
 
Marty Mitchell
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Brooke Dryden wrote:HI! You can plant alfalfa there but make sure you don't give it to horses...alfalfa in the south contains blister beetles, and one beetle will kill a horse.  Only western alfalfa is safe for horses.



I think I have alfalfa out in parts of the fields… and had blister beetles show up in the garden this year.

The prior owners had a few horses though.

I wonder if they were having any issues… may not be alfalfa that I saw though. Looks similar but smaller.

Thank you! I will read up on them.
 
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From what I have read, the blister beetle thing has been greatly exaggerated.  From the American Society of Animal Science  "Not all blister beetles are dangerous to horses. Kaufman and Swinker said the main species to watch out for are black blister beetles and three-striped blister beetles. These species like to eat the flowers on alfalfa plants. ...
According to the results of a study in the Journal of Economic Entomology (Capinera et al., 1985) consuming 120 three-striped blister beetles can kill a horse weighing 825 pounds. An 825 pound horse would need to eat 1,700 black blister beetles or 520 spotted blister beetles to die.

“They have to eat a lot more of those bugs,” said Swinker. ” “It’s all dose-related.” "
 
Marty Mitchell
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Thanks Trace!

I was wondering how in the world horses survived in nature if they we able to be killed by ingesting a single bug that is incredibly abundant.
 
Marty Mitchell
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OMG! Take a look at the different beehives in the following video... Mostly contactless for honey harvests too!!!

VERY interesting

 
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Yeah I watched that with interest.  A bit like a Warre system.  I wonder what plastic bottle would that is commonly available in the US would work.
 
Marty Mitchell
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Jerry Ward wrote:Yeah I watched that with interest.  A bit like a Warre system.  I wonder what plastic bottle would that is commonly available in the US would work.




It is totally set up like a Warre' system. An ultra-light one that gets left deep in the woods.

At first I was wondering how the bees were not overheating in the mini greenhouse he had assembled... then I realized he was wrapping it with insulation and then camouflaging them.

Then at the end I found out that he lives in Russia... I wonder what frost zone he lives in.

Using such lightweight items would be of major bonus if you were having to haul it deep into the woods. Which he was since he was getting at least 4mi away from anyone who uses pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.  

Pretty neat.

Makes me want to build lots of bottle hives like his... and carry them deep into the woods near my house. Away from my lawn mower and animals. I can come through at times and manage them minimally from a long distance. I would have to start with chemical-free/and varroa destructor mite resistant bees though to have a fighting chance.

EDIT:
OH!!! I just realized that I could actually keep a few of these up in the loft of my barn as well!

Do you think those massive HD water bottles would work? My workplace has massive piles of them at times.
 
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What's a HD water bottle?  Like a water cooler jug?
 
Marty Mitchell
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Mike Haasl wrote:What's a HD water bottle?  Like a water cooler jug?



Something like the ones in the following pic. They are very large. About the perfect size for a hive.

Even if they were packed with honey... they would be about 1/2 as heavy as they would be if they were filled with water. Which is very doable by most elderly people even.

 
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Marty Mitchell wrote:

Mike Haasl wrote:What's a HD water bottle?  Like a water cooler jug?



Even if they were packed with honey... they would be about 1/2 as heavy as they would be if they were filled with water. Which is very doable by most elderly people even.



Honey is about 50% denser than water, but you have the bee space between the combs.  So I would guess it would be about the same as one full of water.
 
Marty Mitchell
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Jerry Ward wrote:

Honey is about 50% denser than water, but you have the bee space between the combs.  So I would guess it would be about the same as one full of water.



Noted! Now I know. Thank you.

Still pretty doable for most... but probably difficult for an elderly person. ALTHOUGH... I did see some 5gallon water containers with built-in handles on Amazon for $30 earlier.

I have been staring out the window at the falling snow all day. Looking at the barn in the distance. I bet I could close off one end of the loft area with a solid sheet of plywood... and put 4 of these hives next to each other up there in that small space.

I would still insulate it up there since it gets so hot during the summer. Just vent it to the outside and all should be well. Even well protected during things like general hurricane remnant blowing through.

Bee-Hive-Bottle.jpg
[Thumbnail for Bee-Hive-Bottle.jpg]
 
Mike Barkley
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Which he was since he was getting at least 4mi away from anyone who uses pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.



Be aware that bees can go about 8 or 10 miles to forage if they feel the need to.

Please keep us updated with progress on this method. I watched that video a few days ago. Very curious how it works.

 
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Marty Mitchell wrote:

I have been staring out the window at the falling snow all day. Looking at the barn in the distance. I bet I could close off one end of the loft area with a solid sheet of plywood... and put 4 of these hives next to each other up there in that small space.

I would still insulate it up there since it gets so hot during the summer. Just vent it to the outside and all should be well. Even well protected during things like general hurricane remnant blowing through.



Check out Slovenian Beekeeping for ideas around hives built into a building
Web Site
 
Marty Mitchell
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Thank you Jerry!

I will take a look right now. Just sitting down from shoveling all of the snow we got last night.

EDIT:
After seeing those pics... I now think I could fit about 15 bee hives inside the Barn Loft's doorway! lol

Or 3 Warre' style bottle hives.

http://www.slovenianbeekeeping.com/pics-and-videos.html

 
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I spent the weekend looking at which hive style I think may be best for me for a first hive.

I was all-in on going for the Long Langstroth. I found design plans for one that uses 31 deep frames.

However, I then came across the Layens hive. It is essentially a double deep Lang and allows the bees to make a circular brood pattern… with honey and pollens stores in each frame.

https://youtu.be/FGM2P3al6lU
 
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