Natural Beekeeping

Top Bar ApiRevolution has begun! Lets make some Top Bar Hives and let them be pesticide free on their own natural comb! Che Guebee is a rebel bee fighting for the survival of the Biodiversity we all depend on and which is seriously endangered by deforestation and mono-crop agriculture!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Autumn planting for the bees

People mostly think about Spring time when planting for the bees but indeed one can also plant in Autumn. As a matter of fact most trees, bushes and bulb plants need to be planted in Autumn, because if planted in Spring they might easily dehydrate since their roots are too short and bulbs need cold stratification period. So get out into your garden and go on planting, but make sure to avoid pesticides of all types :)
I vowed to be planting every year (Autumn) at least 10 trees and bushes and 300 bulb (Crocus, Scilla and Snow drops). Some ideas on bee friendly gardening; The Pollinator Gardening

I have visited my parents in law last weekend. They have a small shrubbery which is a bit overgrown so they were happy to hear that I would like to plant some of the trees they had for bees on our new farm. So I grabbed a shovel and started digging up Hawthorn, Rowan, Oak, Aronia and plants like Asters and Marjoram. I even bought 10 Blueberry bushes and spring blooming Cotoneaster bushes in a near by shop. I needed a trailer to get all that back to our farm, some 200 km away.
I ordered 300 bulbs from ebay very cheap. 100 of each: Crocus, Scilla and Snow Drops. I made sure they are not sprayed with pesticides. The supplier reassured me that they use no pesticides since I am keeping bees this was of utmost importance for me and they respected this.
Spring bulbs of Crocus, Scilla and Snow Drops

This video explains about planting bee friendly gardens;

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Apiary of an old Dansih beekeeper

We visited my parents in law this weekend. My wife's father is a conventional beekeeper who at one stage had 24 hives but with age and less strength he now keeps only 6 colonies. Most of his hives are the traditional horizontal Danish Hives aka Tråg-hive.
Of course he always makes sure to bring me out into the apiary to show me his bees :)
 he makes sure that first things come first ;) lighting the smoker!
 Most of his hives are the traditional danish hives also used in Sweden. Some hives are supered conventionals.
 Tråg-hives can be supered that is why they look so tall.
 He also makes sure I too inspect at least one hive
 Here you can see the double walls in the brood part.
 He introduced a new Queen from another beekeeper last week and is trying to find her ...

And here she is :) 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Colonies are evicting bees with DWV

I was surprised today to see some colonies evicting bees with Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). I mean I am glad they are removing them from the hive its just that I have not seen so many bees with DWV before in my hives. I could see at least dozen bees with DWV so there could also be more of them which I haven't seen.
Note the shriveled wings. This is called deformed wing virus or DWV and is caused by either Varroa Mites or by Chilled Brood. So late in the season I would say its the Varroa.
A healthy Worker Bee evicting a bee with DWV
Note the shriveled wings and the abdomen is also much shorter and the body hairs have fallen off.

I don't treat my hives against Varroa because I would like to breed bees only from survivor stocks. I can't wait to meet the survivor colonies next year to increase their strong genes. I find that treating weak colonies will only weaken the future colonies through weak Drones mating with local Virgin Queens. Such stocks will only be able to survive with treatments which is far from sustainable. That said bees located in mono-crop agricultural environment can easier succumb to DWV and other diseases because they lack healthy and biodiverse forage and in this case treating maybe the only way to keep them alive until the day comes when we abolish mono-crop agriculture and start practicing small scale organic farming based on biodiversity. 

Right now it is of utmost importance to feed them well for the winter and I hope they can find enough pollen which they need to create "Winter Bees" which can live up to 6 month or more. Summer worker bees live up to 4-6 weeks only because they lack fat bodies filled with Vitellogenin aka "Bees' Fountain of Youth".

Friday, August 29, 2014

Teaching Top Bar Hive Beekeeping at the University of Copenhagen

For those of you who missed my earlier posts I have started teaching Top Bar Hive Beekeeping at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). We teach every 14 days and the hive is located beside the university in their kitchen garden area where they also keep Danish Landrace Leghorn Hens. This whole project is called "Oasen" and is a fabulous thing teaching students about organic gardening methods. As far as I know this is the very first official course in Top Bar Hive Beekeeping in Denmark (could be the very first course in total but not sure).

Whats up with your bees Che?

My bees are still being fed with sugar syrup (5:3) and it seems that they will need much more since the hind combs are still very much empty. So far I fed 30 kg of sugar (which gives more syrup of course).
Note the cell rims coated with propolis which makes the comb stronger and since the bees walk on the rims it makes sure they don't spread disease throughout the hive. It acts as a disinfectant.
There are no stores at the back of the hives. But there is some bee activity there so I'm hoping they are working the sugar syrup there.
Eventhough my Buckwheat has been blooming for a few month now I could not see any Honeybees working it until now. Im guessing that Buckwheat makes little nectar during dry summer time. 
I see bees working the perennial Rucola I planted this year. Will make sure to plant some more of this edible plant since it is also very tasty in salads. Note the mustard-yellow pollen!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Jerusalem Artichokes are Blooming

We have 2 large patches of Jerusalem Artichokes in our forest garden which have begun to bloom now :) Such a blessing for the bees when fresh pesticide free pollen is needed to create winter bees. Bees use pollen to create fat bodies (Vitellogenin) in their abdomen which makes them live long up to 6-12 months. I can see bees bringing in orange, yellow and white-grayish pollen at this time. Not much pollen though but still better than nothing.
 Bees are eagerly collecting nectar and pollen from Jerusalem Artichokes flowers

The Great Willow Herb is still in the bloom. Note the whiteish pollen

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Melting Wax

I use a juicing pot to melt wax with
I add some water to the plastic container so to separate clean wax from the "dirt". 
Here you can see clearly the clean wax on top and the dirty water bellow. Once the wax has cooled down take it out of the container (do this over the sink)