Susan here: It is during winter preparation in the bee garden that I realize just how far off the conventional center my beeing has wandered. Winter prep in my bee garden is a slow, sweet time. By late autumn, I’ve tilted all my skeps up just a bit and found them heavy with bees and honey. Soon, I’ll be plugging upper entrances on the hives and leaving their lower openings clear. And that—blessedly—is the whole of my winter prep. (more…)
When our bees need food, we provide it for them, in the form of honey: honey in combs, in bowls with sticks and straw to prevent the bees from drowning, or in a small chick-waterer with stones in the mote. We avoid feeding sugar because it is not a good, nourishing food for bees. It can cause gut problems, moisture problems in the hive, and is simply not bee food.
But there are times when an emergency strikes and there is no honey to be found. So, in cases of extreme need, we are sharing this sugar food recipe from the Natural Beekeeping Trust to get your bees through in a tight pinch: (more…)
“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.
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!
I've had a few bee trees on our farm for the past eight years and I adore watching the colonies live such natural lives. During the Europe trip, I was absolutely tickled to see so many log hive projects going on in different countries. The tree beekeepers (called "Zeidlers") have set up hollow log tree hives all around Europe. CLICK HERE to see some of their tree bee hive projects. CLICK HERE to meet the zeidlers.
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.
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…)
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…)
Among the many jaw-dropping things we learned in Holland was a strong push worldwide to study and to support wild bees. Many, many of the attendees were using alternative hive structures, and a lot of attention was placed on homing bees in trees.
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.
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!