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Author & Beekeeper
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Diane - the memory of the invasion can linger for weeks; the only thing you can do is wait, but it is true that taking honey from a very active hive can provoke a lasting defensive response. This is why in horizontal hives you can postpone the harvest until the end of the warm season (I pull my honey in October or November in southern Missouri - after the first frost) - at that time most of the summer bees have died off, and what remain collect in a cluster for wintering - so you can pull honey without seeing many bees and with very little (or none) bee disturbance.  (This kind of harvest is only possible with horizontal hive models, though - but one reason I'm using them exclusively.)

Aimee - also, regarding an aggressive bee - bees react to smells, so it could be that they detected in your approach something that they particularly liked!  If a bee starts investigating you, the last thing you want to do is make energetic movements (like waving your arms) - the best thing to do it slowly walk into the shade or - if in the open - lying down on the ground.  This lessens the chance of being stung even by a bee that has harm on her mind.
 
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Hi Leo!

I am super excited that you are here! It has been part of my dream to keep bees, as they seem to have a natural affinity towards me. I get visited every Spring on my porch by a few wild honey bees that live around here. I give them some wild raw honey that is local...so far, no issues with that.
This Spring, a bee came by in March, since we did experience an early warm up. The bee seemed to be grateful for the sustenance,  as it walked all over my face and hands...it tickled, it was so gentle!
This bee was most likely from a hive in the area two years ago, when I think the entire hive visited in the fall...as my entire porch was buzzing with hungry bees. My daughter was freaked out and wouldn't let me on the porch until they left, then sprinkled garlic powder to keep them away.
Do bees have that kind of "genetic" memory passed to each generation? Because that is truly amazing!
 
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Hi Leo, welcome and thank you for your insight on my post, is honey greed killing our bees. I will be geting a copy of Keeping Bees with a Smile as soon as I can.
Angelina
 
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I just ordered the book.  Thanks for bringing it to my attention.  Should be here Sunday :)
 
Leo Sharashkin
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Hello Margie,
I don't think the bee visited because they have some collective memory from two years ago.  However, there is one amazing circumstance when bees keep coming to the same area year after year. It has to do with mating. The queen and drones mate in open flight in certain areas called "drone congregation areas". These spots stay the same year after year (sometimes for hundreds of years) even though, obviously, the drones & queens this year were not even hatched past year and can't have a direct memory of where this mating site should be - but they just go there! Science does not know how they "remember" the place of the dating spot - it could be some super-persistent chemical signal, or some electromagnetic anomaly, or some feature of the landscape. Whatever it is, it give you chills to ponder how wonderfully nature is organized, and how memory can persist across many generations of a species.
 
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Thank you Leo! That does sound exactly like what I am looking for. =)
 
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Blessings Leo,

Your experience, intent, and purpose with bee keeping practices is very powerful! Thank you for sharing your gifts and knowledge. I am a bee keeper in Vermont and have been doing Langstroth for ~7 years and I have never felt the way in which I wanted in regards to connection with Bee Keeping. I'm really looking forward to diving deeper into what you have to share in your book and hope it will help as a guide to more grounded and undomesticated bee keeping!

With Gratitude,

Krishna
 
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You are welcome, Krishna, and I hear what you are saying!  Georges de Layens (inventor of the horizontal movable-frame hive that I use) was saying that "you can be a successful beekeeper with any hive model" - but they certainly do differ in the amount of pleasure you can derive from beekeeping. I have first-hand experience with many hive models, including the conventional vertical Langstroth, which is a very efficient hive (especially for a large-scale bee operation), but I've never really enjoyed working the Langstroth hives. Some will disagree - a good friend and natural beekeeper with hundreds of hives, now in the 60s, is telling me that he loves his Langstroth hives because all that carrying of the heavy boxes keeps him in a good shape!  But I don't share that kind of enthusiasm, and do feel that having a hive that minimizes bee disturbance; removes the need for frequent manipulations; gives access to all frames at once without heavy lifting; and provides bees with a more natural nest structure is worth considering for every beekeeper who's attracted to beekeeping as joyful and pleasurable activity, and not just honey-making.  In all honesty, if honey is the only focus, it's easier to buy it at the farmer's market than to keep your own bees!  I know you'll enjoy Keeping Bees with a Smile. Thank you!
 
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Hello Leo. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Keeping Bees with a Smile. I'm a beginner and am getting things finished up and looking forward to putting out some swarm traps very soon. I also bought some of your wax foundation sheets to use in my frames and they smell wonderful.

I have some questions about your long Langstroth hive plans. I'm in central Kansas and am trying to decide how much ventilation to put in my hives. It gets pretty hot here in the summer, sometimes up to several weeks of 100 degree weather. Should I be adding more vents to my hives than what you spec in your plans? I'm using cover boards and the gable style roof. Is 2 vents in the cover boards enough or should I add more? More vents in the side wall opposite the entrance? I'm probably overthinking it.

Several other questions for you. I'm curious if you use and/or recommend the optional screened bottom and trays. What are the pros and cons? How far apart do you recommend spacing multiple hives at the same location? And one last question is about how steady the hive is. We get a lot of windy days here in Kansas and we have some trees around, but not forests to break the wind. Is your long Lang hive steady on it's feet and heavy enough that it won't be a problem or should I consider anchoring it down? Thanks for your helpful information and for spending time here on Permies.

-Brian
 
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Hi Brian,

You'll want to have your Long Langstroth in the shade. There should obviously be a path for air that rises through the vents in the cover boards to go out - like in the "cover boards with ventilated top" plans. That should suffice.

I've used screened bottom boards alongside solid bottom boards, and as long as you only use local-stock bees from wild swarms, you won't notice any difference in terms of colony survival.  So now I make all my hives solid-bottom. The screened bottom does not really have any disadvantages other than a more complicated and costly hive construction and the need to service the trays regularly.  For a detailed discussion, see screened bottom board plans on HorizontalHive.com

I space my hives at least 20 feet apart, but the more the better. Follow the advice in Keeping Bees in Horizontal Hives and don't put the hives in the straight line, and don't have all entrances facing in the same direction.

The Long Langstoth hive may blow over under your conditions. You may want to make the legs that are spread apart more AND secure two of the legs to spikes or T-posts driven deep into the ground.  The more windbreak you have, the less anchoring you need - but these hives are not tipping-proof in 70mph winds unless you take special measures.

By the way, the Long Langstroth hive is not my favorite horizontal hive model. I'm only providing the plans for those who want to use the standard American frames, but the Layens hive and frame are much better (I've eventually converted all my colonies to the Layens hives and can't be happier with the transition. You can find more detail on different horizontal hive model comparisons and advantages/disadvantages in Keeping Bees with a Smile, the new 2020 edition.

 
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Dear Dr Leo Sharashkin,

Imagine you are holding fine quality paper with an elegant handwriting, written in dark green ink.

First of all, please let me thank you for bringing Anastasia's philosophy to the world through supporting the production of a stellar English language version of the Ringing Cedars of RussiaRinging Cedars of Russia! Were it not for those books, never would I ever have entered the world of permaculture so early on in life, as I imagine I would have only indulged myself at a ripe and retired old age--NOW I know that it's not only indulgence, but of spiritual necessity that I act now. Not just because of the personal level of wanting to create a Space of Love to honour Mother Earth and future kin, but to save my very life: from cancer. And not lonely am I--cancer is but one symptom of our society's lack of Love! The vibrations of negative thoughts which fall back to the earth and rattle her very essence CAN be outpaced by the vibrations of kindness, gentleness and heartfelt understanding. We CAN tip the tide, to help the side of Good win in the game of Life!

So let there be apiaries!

As we embark upon the second and final portion of this letter, I ask you to consider the my questions--and if so inclined, to share whatever wisdom comes up for you as a result of the consideration. =)

I feel that Nature has programmed everything correctly from the very start that anchors a harmonious balance between humankind, her wants, and the environment. Yet have you found that as your beekeeping style has evolved, certain artificial enhancements have made the endeavour more easy or enjoyable? Do you think that the practice of keeping bees and making honey will continue to evolve, and will that evolution result in something somehow simpler, or more complex? And in what ways?

How do children seem to take to beekeeping? Are they generally excited but scared of the bees? Can you envision a children's program of looking after bees, or might that be more for the brave adults to try in evening workshops? How many people could contribute to activity of making their own hive, or have you found it mostly a satisfying solitary pursuit?

My final chain of questions has to do with disease. Have you heard of any inspiring stories regarding people miraculously being cured from cancer after trying something natural or energetic, like placing a seed under my tongue, growing that into a plant and consuming what can be harvested?

Your friend, in kinship with all life!
Jenni

PS. I am 28 years old and wondering if you can recommend any Ontario kind domains where I could volunteer and heal amongst all that grows!
Jawereza@gmail.com
 
Leo Sharashkin
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Jenni,

Yet have you found that as your beekeeping style has evolved, certain artificial enhancements have made the endeavour more easy or enjoyable? Do you think that the practice of keeping bees and making honey will continue to evolve, and will that evolution result in something somehow simpler, or more complex? And in what ways?



Of all kinds of beekeeping I've personally experienced, I actually feel that skep beekeeping is the most harmonious and perfect one there is. It's truly cosmic and extremely Earth-friendly - like a song, I'd call it "beekeeping of the heart". The hives are built by hand from grasses and vines without ANY machinery required. They further require no resources such as lumber (=trees), metal (nails, steel wire), and other man-made materials that the modern hives and frames are made of. No sound of table saws; no harmful dust and noise - just you sitting there surrounded by the singing of birds and the rustling of leaves, meditating and making a basket in which the bees shall live. Indeed, the resulting hive is excellent for the bees and when it outlives its useful life, it returns to the earth and disappears without a trace - a microcosm of a natural journey on this planet Earth. But, despite all its beauty, the skep is not compatible with the modern way of life: too slow to make and the management of it (sitting and watching for swarms etc.) requires the kind of patience that most people no longer have in today's "developed" world...  I published the book "Honey From The Earth: Beekeeping and Honey Hunting on Six Continents" showing skeps and many other traditional modes of beekeeping - but these are dying out in most places.  I do foresee, however, that there will be a renewed interest in skep beekeeping by a small minority of beekeepers.

How do children seem to take to beekeeping? Are they generally excited but scared of the bees? Can you envision a children's program of looking after bees, or might that be more for the brave adults to try in evening workshops? How many people could contribute to activity of making their own hive, or have you found it mostly a satisfying solitary pursuit?



Children love it and - in my family - have little fear, as long as they see their parents interacting lovingly with bees and the non-invasive management and hive models do not stir aggression from the colonies. I think the best way to teach beekeeping to children is experiential - through apprenticeships & by example rather than any special programs. The adults, though, can benefit from an intensive course - in fact, I teach two-day natural beekeeping workshops at my apiary several times every year, and they are always full, with people coming from all over the US, Canada, and even from other countries.  As far as hive-making, it depends on your taste - it can be anything you envision: from doing it on your own, having a hive-building party in your local community (we've done that very successfully using free plans from HorizontalHive.com) - or even an entire factory.

I'm sending you an email with answers to your other, more intimate, questions. With best wishes of good health, Dr Leo
 
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Hello Leo!  I've watched a lot of your presentations on youtube and we're planning on building some long hives this summer.  Thanks so much for all your hard work and passion and sharing your knowledge and experiences with all of us newbs!
 
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Nice with a new book on bees.

Could come in handy, looks like it will be a record swarm year here in Sweden.

Johan
 
Leo Sharashkin
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Louis - there's a variety of horizontal hive models, so as you choose one to build, note that after many years of comparisons, I recommend the LAYENS hive over Lazutin or Long Langstroth - as explained in this new edition of Keeping Bees with a Smile.
 
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HELLO Dr. LEO:
Thank you for answering my questions from a couple of days ago.
I've been reading all of the entries in this particular forum and have learned still more.

And I went to your site to view some of your hives. I downloaded the free plans for the H-Hives and I think I'll make one of those this Summer/Fall to prep for next Spring, 2021. These made from 2" lumber (1.5" actual) makes much more sense to me as being much nearer an actual hive in a tree as we saw as kids when the older boys were collecting honey.

Even if I cannot extract the honey due to lack of equipment, hopefully that will be a permanent home for a swarm of bees.
 
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Leo Sharashkin wrote:Conrad,
I really prefer hives made of natural materials. Yes, today many hives and frames are made of plastic or other synthetic materials. Yes, they work, but has certain properties very different from the way bees are programmed to live (for example, they routinely make holes through their combs, for ventilation and access - see color photos in Keeping Bees with a Smile - but they can't create these pop holes if you use frames with plastic foundation). Eventually, too, the plastic hive equipment ends up in the landfill, whereas a hive made of natural materials such as wood can fully biodegrade.  So the hives I make only use materials that can biodegrade (wood, wool insulation) or be recycled (aluminum flashing for hive roof cover).



Thanks for that, Leo. So would you then want to insulate a Layens hive for out winters even with local bees or would it be better to build a double-wall version, or of course, just put the bees in a Layens and see how it goes?
 
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Conrad,
In your cold climate I'd recommend building a double-wall insulated Layens hive from the get go.  OR build a solid-wood hive, put it inside an enclosed shed, and connect the entrance to the outside with 2" air hose (incidentally, this would also offer protection from bears).  Finally, adding insulation in the fall is possible (like 1" of styrofoam) - but it needs to be done well and be waterproof so water/melted ice does not get into the insulation / between the insulation and the wood box.
 
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Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us this week Leo. I am new to beekeeping and it's been really helpful to read these posts.

Do you have any thoughts about considerations to make for natural beekeeping in horizontal hives in climates similar to the Pacific northwest?

I started a thread up about this here: https://permies.com/t/140975/started-natural-beekeeping-zone
 
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I finally get to use this gif!



Congratulations!

Tel Jetson
Emily Hall
Jackie Dragon
El Rowlatt


You get a book about bees, and you get a book about bees, and you get a book about bees, and YOU get a book about bees! (We'll be sending each of your email addresses to the publisher, and they'll get incontact with you to get your shipment information)

And, if you're bummed that you didn't get a book about bees under YOUR chair, have no fear! You can buy it right HERE!
 
Leo Sharashkin
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Thank you all for a great week of bee talk!  We are at the peak of the spring bee season, so I'm signing off to go back to my bees (and to the wood shop to make another hundred of hives!)  I won't be monitoring this forum anymore or replying to posts, but you can learn more about natural beekeeping by reading Keeping Bees with a Smile and my other books, visiting my website HorizontalHive.com, and coming to my two-day natural beekeeping seminars at my apiary in the Ozarks of southern Missouri - or at one of the many other events across the US.
THANK YOU and best wishes,
 
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Congratulations to the winners, thank you to all the members who made some interesting posts, and triple thank you to Dr. Sharashkin for all his input and contributions this week.
 
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THANK YOU DR. LEO SHARASHKIN!!
You are an excellent teacher, and we all learned a lot from you!
Come back and chat as a normal member sometime :D
 
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Aimee Hall and those in Australia might look up Tim Malfroy. He has a few apiaries and runs hundreds of Warrés. I have but one... 9 seasons continuously occupied. Perhaps one day Leo, you'll wander, "down under." 😎 But as for being ~"difficult to manage?" I don't allow myself to manage my Warré.
BillSF9c
near San Francisco
 
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Woohooo!  Thank you for the book!  I'm super pumped to read it.

All best,
El
 
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Hiya,

Ah, not to be pushy, but I haven't heard from the publisher. Is there someone I'm supposed to contact first?

Thank you.
 
Pearl Sutton
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El Rowlatt wrote:Hiya,

Ah, not to be pushy, but I haven't heard from the publisher. Is there someone I'm supposed to contact first?

Thank you.


I'm asking the people who would know :)
 
Kate Downham
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I sent the email addresses to the publisher 9 days ago. I've just sent them off again in case that email got lost.

Thanks for letting us know.
 
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Hello i hav read with a great pleasure your book, I presentely keep bees in a tropical climat  in the Indian Ocean, your frame size is completely unfitted to our climat, what size of frame would you recomand for 20° lattitude?
Gallup? As brother François found suitable in 1920' Congo ?

Abbé Rueher's modified Congolese (long horizontal) beehive (Almost a Gallup frame)

found here Bees in French Equatorial Africa: their habits, their culture



We note a distance between frames of 35mm (1920 we had not yet understood that for African bees it is between 31 and 32 mm) and that he then calls the Top bars "comb holder".

"The primitive Congolese, which dates from 1920, was modified in August 1926. The innovations made to the latter model (fig. 16) concern only the roof and the bottom. The body of the hive does not change in any way: it is placed on the tray where it is held by means of four trunnions."
"The roof is flat, made of assembled boards 15 mm. thick and covered with a sheet of zinc or sheet metal. It protrudes from the body by 2 cm. ½ on each side, which are taken up by a 2 cm. high frame. This way the tent fits over the hive, preventing access to spiders and moths."
"The bottom, instead of being flat, has the shape of an upside-down triangle, with an inner height of 12 cm., one third of the base. It increases the volume of the hive by about 12 liters. The tray, being tilted, is at the same time made self-cleaning, but remains mobile or removable."
"1° The hive always stays clean, since the flared and sloping bottom allows waste and condensation to drain away automatically."
" 2° For the bees: more space and more air. Instead of cluttering up the tray and the flight board, during rest, the workers remain in the hive and hang below the frames."
" 3° Given this particularity, an inspection or an operation is easy to do: there are, so to speak, no bees left on the combs."
" 4° The entrance, made along the whole length of the hive, gives a wide ventilation with the rear ventilation openings. Moreover, it is protected from the sun and guaranteed from the rain."
" 5° Finally, thanks to the vacuum or air chamber under the frames, the workers, - especially those of a large swarm, - form the cluster there for the elaboration of the wax intended for the construction of the combs. We have seen this, and this in itself is a very great advantage."

Excerpt from: Rueher, J.B. "The Bees of French Equatorial Africa. Their habits, their culture. Practical and easy instructions and methods for rational and modern beekeeping (1929).*»


we find a new modification for the Metropolitan adaptation in L'Apiculteur 1932 -02

Or here in PDF and again a description in L'apiculteur 1931 about the colonial exhibition.



the top bars he calls them "impropolisable "R" closing frame system"!





The Beehive " France Congo "

On the whole it is our "Congolese 1925", somewhat modified for the climate of Europe.
.../on the advice of beekeepers
our tropical 30x31 frame inside, which seems too small,
Our primitive frame (1920)
and when we modified it, we were unaware of the existence of the Voirnot 33x33 cm frame.
By substituting the latter for ours...

The hive body has an internal volume of 75 x 37 1/2 x 37 1/2 c/m, i.e. a capacity of 105 litres.
The front board is 80 x 20 (17 at the inner corners) x 2 1/2) c/m, notched below 10 m/m over a length of
75 c/m, which is the distance between the two short sides: this is 'the actual flight hole'.

The 80x45x2 1/2 c/m bottom thus assembled forms a vacuum or air chamber, under the frames, which, being square, do not descend into it. This chamber has a capacity of seventeen and a half litres. It ensures the bees of laplace, of the pure air unceasingly renewed, it avoids the swarming and the beard".


For "France-Congo" we'll use 36mm wide closing frames.

 
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