Natural Beekeeping

Top Bar ApiRevolution Has Begun! Lets Make Some Top Bar Hives and Let Them Bee 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 Human ignorance and greed!

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)

Winter feeding sugar syrup 5:3

Since some of my colonies didnt make enough honey for the winter I started feeding them with 5:3 sugar syrup mixed with Camomile-Nettle-Yarrow tea and Apple Cider Vinegar (organic). I mix these to soften the syrup because our tap water is very hard GH 24 and pH7,2. The tea adds extra trace elements and other goodies.
Sugar 5:3 boiled water, Apple Cider Vinegar and Camomile-Nettle-Yarrow tea
I feed the bees behind the follower board in inverted glass jars. This jar was emptied after only one day :) Time to refill ;) 4 out of 10 colonies din't want to take the sugar syrup which is a clear sign that they have enough honey. I knew that already but wanted to double check just in case. The other 6 colonies emptied the jars in just one day. I will feed until they stop taking in.
It is not easy being a Wasps inside a Honeybee hive :) At this time Wasps and other bees are trying to rob honey from bee colonies but my ladies seem to be very good at holding their ground ;) I did reduce the entrances to help them defend it better.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Modest honey harvest

My bees didnt make much honey in this mono-crop agri-landscape this year. Some of the new splits and new swarms didn't even make enough for them selves. So I decided to equalize the colonies by taking some honey comb from the strong and giving it to the weak colonies. Now they all have 8-10 combs for the winter. Still most combs in this years splits/swarms are empty so feeding sugar syrup will be a must if I want them to survive. Next year I will have to find another out-apiary so to spread my colonies. For that I need hives which are migratory friendly. I will have top bar hives only in my apiary on the farm.

I harvested no more than 6  kg of honey so far for our household. 4 kg during the summer and now 2 kg. It makes me sad the fact that our environment is so heavily laden with mono-crops and pesticides, neatly cut road sides, horse pastures (have no flowers) and perfectly mowed lawns. Only the near by town offers some house hold flowers :(