Rescue of a Small, Open-Air Colony

“Can anything be done to help these bees?” The query came across my Face Book page, along with a photo of white honeycombs hanging from an exposed tree limb.

Sometimes, bees do not manage to find a safe nest, and they begin making a home wherever they have landed. Now, if the bees are in warm country, and have built out beneath a rock ledge, this works pretty well, but bees here in the Northwest will not survive the winter exposed to our long, cold rainy seasons.

It looks like all these combs once housed bees. The small group between the two combs was all that remained…

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Ventilation…Insulation? We’ve Found an Intriguing Solution!

Susan here. If you are a bee club member, you already know that PBC has been talking about hive insulation all this past year. How do we with wooden hives get these flimsy-walled things to be good for bees? Some of us can’t afford new hives whenever we learn of new innovations that are healthy for bees, so is there a way for us to “modify?”

We’ve been looking at this issue from the outside of the hive, mostly. There are foam and also bubble insulation wraps available, and all require basically encasing your hive box top to bottom with these panels.

Some of us are adding another layer of wood, tacked to the outside of the hive. we’ve discussed encasing our hives in straw bales, which Jacqueline tried—and discovered it is a great way for growing mushrooms between hive and straw.

Then, in Holland, I saw this: a Warre’ hive with a circular interior, packed with plaster, cork chips, and straw. Wowza! Insulate from the inside, instead and solve more problems than just warmth and cooling!

All ready for bees: An insulating interior surround, all set atop a lovely ecofloor full of cut wood rounds to absorb moisture. And an easy-to-defend deep, circular entrance. Bee paradise!

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Wall Beekeeping: An Ancient Craft (who knew??)–Susan’s Bees

Once again, I find myself gloriously behind the times. In this particular case a few thousand years behind the times: I built and maintain a wall beehive—a colony housed in the wall of my bedroom.

I have been calling it my Observation Hive because it has a plexiglas cover on the inside wall, but my ancient ancestors have been keeping such hives—called walled hives—for millennia. I know this now because of a fascinating Bee World article from 1998 by Eva Crane that details wall hives and wall hive beekeeping in some twenty warm-temperate Old World countries, a practice that dates back to at least AD 60.

Guiding a swarm into Valentine Hive. Easy does it!

Bee friend Jenne Johnson is great at finding and sharing such wonderful bee morsels as she wanders along the good bee road, and she managed to find this historical reference to my very new activity. (more…)

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Keeping Faith: To Feed or NOT to Feed
Faith busy "bringin' home the bacon:...er...pollen!

Keeping Faith: To Feed or NOT to Feed

Faith, sitting happily on her hollow-log ecofloor, protected from the elements under a shed roof.

As a rule, we advocate not feeding our bees unless 1) they are from a late swarm and need a hand, 2) it is a very wet spring, and the bees cannot get out to the fresh but soaked forage, or 3) some unforeseen catastrophe (bears, aliens? hurricanes?). (more…)

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Learning from the Bees: Reflections

It’s a drizzly day in Southwest Washington, with much needed blessing of tender rain. My luggage is unpacked (including the start of a rye skep that customs let me keep!), my emails answered, the house cleaned, and the garden tended.

These days since returning from the Natural Beekeeping Trust’s gathering in Holland, “Learning From the Bees,” I’ve been letting myself take the time to absorb, digest, and begin to sort the enormity of the offerings—and the profound implications— of those three very precious days.

Ferry shows us some of his older top bar hives. He’s donated all these to the new Bee Paradise in Haarlem.

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Taking a Reporting Break: Holland Sunday

So much wonder, so little time to report it. Folks, I gave myself the gift of focusing on the conference today and last night. I’ll be coming home on Monday, tomorrow. Jacqueline is off to other parts of Europe to share with hungry beekeepers who want to sit at her table. She is quite a celebrity over here, and her celebrity is much deserved.

I’m certain she’ll be posting along the way. Much, much more to come!!

Just a couple brief shots… Here is me schmoozing with Professor Tom Seeley of Cornell University, or, in more informal terms, the King of Bees (yeah, yeah, I know…no such thing, but if there were….). I told him to pretend he liked me. Photo bomber is Mike Albers, the moderator of the Face Book page, Weaving Bee Skep Hives. He also works very closely with Ferry in their organization, Smart Beeing. Mike is one of the most genuine, fun, and easy-to-be with men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way. PLUS…he taught me a few crafty weaving tips!

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Holland on Friday—A Whirlwind Tour

Good morning! I chose these two eggs this morning, to offer a model to my eyeballs on how they ought to look. Mine are at half-mast, and not nearly so bright and sunny It is Saturday morning, and we were up with conference events until around 11pm. The conference started just after noon, and the information poured into us in waves. By the end of the day, I felt as though the top of my head had popped off and a swarm of 60,000 ideas, surprises, confluences, and inspirations was spiraling around my head, all looking for a place to cluster. I won’t be able to let them all cluster here, but I’ll let them settle when I get home.

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Holland Thursday Adventures: Haarlem, Scrubby Pads, and a Pipe!

You are probably all pleased to know that this will be a shorter post today. I don’t have to cram two days worth of information in, as yesterday, and it was a blessedly slower day. This morning, as Ferry was loading up the skeps, Sun Hives, and propolis tinctures for the conference that starts tomorrow, Jacqueline, Joseph, and I headed off for a walking excursion in downtown Haarlem. This town center is a huge, ancient plaza, anchored by an exquisite cathedral that I was not willing to spend 2.50 Euro to go see. I’m getting thrifty. Things are expensive here with the exchange rate. Here I am, ready for any kind of weather…

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