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Angelmum21

Beekeepers should not snub Beehaus

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Hi

 

I have just spent happy hour watching my bees coming and going, taking rainwater off the laurel hedge next to the hive, bringing back white and pale yellow pollen and dragging out dead bees which I inspected and found no signs of varroa on. This is the third winter and I feel very much a new beekeeper because no year is the same. However, I watch the threads on the BBKA and other sites on Facebook and see desperate newbies losing their colonies in their national and NBC hives and thank goodness for the Beehaus! It has I feel made my introduction to beekeeping simple and easy. I do think it is time for some of the long-standing beekeepers to stop dissing it. I would love to see some articles in the magazines showing how to manage bees in the hive etc - I often flip through them and find the advice they give is totally unsuitable for this type of hive.

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I've just obtained a polystyrene national with the intention to do 'natural' beekeeping - I'm also interested in the Kenyan top bar hive, and I'd have bought a beehaus if I could afford it! I'm just hoping to give bees a home and if there's any extra honey then I'll be grateful.

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I agree with your aims about keeping bees - I intervene as little as possible with mine but do feed them when they need it and do practise controlling varroa by shaking icing sugar over the bees when I inspect them. I have found beekeepers at my club just did not want to consider using a double walled insulated hive but complained all the time about swarming etc My bees have never swarmed and are well-tempered which is important as I keep them in my back garden. I cannot attend the club now as it takes place on Saturdays when I work so I have to get my information online or through books and magazines. I wish you well in your ventures into beekeeping!

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Unfortunately beekeepers sometimes seem resistant to change. However, much of the advice for beekeeping in National or other 'traditional' hives applies to the Beehaus as well - it's just a different layout. The Beehaus is based on the Dartington hive which was itself adapted from the National.

 

And I have to warn you that swarming and insulation are completely unconnected - if your bees haven't swarmed yet it's nothing to do with the Beehaus! Believe me, if there was a hive design that prevented swarming every beekeeper would want one. I'd see if another local group meets on a day you can attend, you don't have to go to your nearest one but it's good to get as much advice as you can.

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I have just spent happy hour watching my bees coming and going

Same here.....it's been a peculiar winter.

I'm surprised people are still criticising the Beehaus.It is after all just a box to put your bees in. I thought they had moved on to the Flow Hive.

Beginners losing bees in wooden boxes is not down to the box, surely but to lack of experience and bad beekeeping(mostly)?

Edited by Guest

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I agree with your aims about keeping bees - I intervene as little as possible with mine but do feed them when they need it and do practise controlling varroa by shaking icing sugar over the bees when I inspect them.

 

Could you put the inspection board in after each shake and let us know what varroa drops you are getting? It would help because there may be another reason you are disease free.

It's largely accepted that shaking sugar over bees doesn't work in removing varroa unless you shake so much (like when you do a sugar roll in a jar)

What is interesting is that a DWV variant (B) has been discovered which is non pathogenic and in some situations it is displacing the malignant type A which largely causes colonies to succumb to varroa collapse. It is thought that some colonies are beginning to cope with varroa in this way. Exciting stuff :)

Natural comb is key as well. This year I'm putting all my new stock from splits into foundation free frames.

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Hi Speckled Hen

 

Yes do put inspection board in after every shake and just see cappings - maybe I am just lucky but that icing sugar thing after inspection was suggested by a master beekeeper in Beecraft and the only thing he did extra to that was to use an oxalic acid treatment in the winter. I got some ready but never had the right window to use it and also am a bit squeamish about dripping acid on to them especially as I do not have an obvious problem. My daughter for example took a close up shot of lots of my bees which was used in the Beecraft magazine to illustrate healthy bees and we could not see a single mite on them. I think that you may be training them to be hygienic by the regular application of the stuff cos they have to be scrupulous about cleaning it off - but obviously I am no expert.

The master beekeeper showed by meticulous record keeping that the varroa mites dropped off dramatically with this regular treatment.

By the way, Hefting the hive this winter was fine until a couple of days ago when it suddenly felt lighter so this afternoon I nipped out with a pack of Neopoll and put it on the hive. Found that as usual they had moved to the central frames in the box at this time of year. Noticed in both previous winters that the queen moved them back on to the farthest frames from the entrance leaving one full frame with stores in front of the central dividing board and then after Christmas they slowly move forward towards the middle position ready for Spring. Foragers are getting out between the periods of rain but activity is comparatively very low.

Good luck with your beekeeping!

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Unbelievable - just suggested a person looking to get bees who posted on the BBKA site that they should check out the Omlet hive and guide which I have found useful and easy and got one guy saying newbies shouldn't do that cos they should get nationals like they use in the clubs and another saying 3 years without swarming what a feat!

 

I simply replied that the hive is based on Darlington and I got it because of my bad back at the time - I could have said anyway being the age I am and facing doing beekeeping on my own I had to have a system I could manage for several years which a national would not be. I have hefted enough boxes at the club to know how heavy they get and also maintenance on the Omlet is minimal whereas the national hives need lots of s"Ooops, word censored!"ing and mending.

 

Here's what I said to the lady who was sarcastically challenging me! Hi Caroline - All I have done is get a nucleus of Buckfast bees from Omlet and follow their guidebook plus attend my local club. I also read articles in Beecraft and the BBKA magazine and have adopted my varroa practice after reading a very convincing article by a master beekeeper. So I use icing sugar on every inspection and would use vaporised oxalic acid if necessary but it isn't.

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Olly - have you seen the latest bit of research posted on the BBKA site which discusses the natural habitats of bees in "thick-walled tree cavities"where heat and humidity is higher than in the average hive. - it also talks about how these conditions inhibit Varroa and recommends insulated hives!

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Although I no longer keep bees (OH is allergic) I well remember the furore when the Beehaus came out. The rude comments on this site and others were legion, and in some cases, exceptionally aggressive in my view. After spending some time torn between being furious (and I used to use Nationals!) and frightened, and after reading some real nonsense about the use of epipens which I felt more qualified to comment upon than many posters, I gave up communicating with bee forums, although I did still read them from time to time when I had a problem, as I did find a wealth of helpful information in amongst the bile. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I'd never wasted my time and energies trying to refute blinkered views, in the end I stuck to talking to local BBKA members, and developed my own routines. But I realise this attitude will never change the world :( You are a braver woman than me, and full credit to you for sharing your experiences with others to try to help them :D

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This is from the abstract which is from the International Journal of Biometeorology! Shows your hives are definitely along the right lines!

 

This result for tree enclosures implies higher levels of humidity in the nest, increased survival of smaller colonies and lower Varroa destructor breeding success. Many honeybee behaviours previously thought to be intrinsic may only be a coping mechanism for human intervention; for example, at an MCR of above 2 kgW−1 K, clustering in a tree enclosure may be an optional, rare, heat conservation behaviour for established colonies, rather than the compulsory, frequent, life-saving behaviour that is in the hives in common use. The implied improved survival in hives with thermal properties of tree nests may help to solve some of the problems honeybees are currently facing in apiculture.

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I wouldn't go near the BBKA Forum, there are some very rude and opinionated people out there and beekeepers as a group seem to me to be very set in their ways. The Beehaus has its advantages, personally I have stuck with Nationals as I'd already started keeping bees before the Beehaus came out. I do feel very strongly however that all beekeepers need some training and support- it's not something you can learn from books alone.

 

Angelmum, yes I've seen a talk recently about insulating hives and the effect it can have on the bees' health and productivity. There's a lot to be said for improving insulation whether by using the Beehaus or other products. However I still think you've been lucky if your bees haven't swarmed in three years because swarming isn't connected to insulation (or varroa). If you're keeping bees in your back garden then you need to be on top of swarm control because it's likely to upset the neighbours!

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The trouble with some fora representing a passionate hobby is that they do host a few people who largely have little life apart from the cyber and say things they wouldn’t dare say to one’s face. That said it helps to be on the right forum. There is little point in discussing the Beehaus on a “traditional” hive forum. A lot of folk are dismissive of what they consider to be an expensive toy. They are wrong, of course but that’s life. The Beehaus forum is HERE but it is stone dead. Why isn’t there a lively discussion here? There are plenty of experienced beekeepers to lend a hand and support such a discussion. Just look at the Flow Forum! Here is a system derided almost hysterically and yet the forum flourishes with like minded prospective beekeepers who are getting the help it is blindingly obvious they need from “seasoned oldies”

So come on omleteers….let’s get this forum going.

I don’t have a Beehaus but I do have experience with long deep hives.

I’d like to know how people are doing with them.

 

The abstract fro your journal of Biometeorology is by Derek Mitchell. He posts all his findings on the beekeeping forum and is happy to help anybody via PM. He is doing the rounds of BKAs with his entertaining talk. A lot of us, as a result have super insulated our wooden hives.

I'm interested in varroa tolerant bees, who isn't, you are so lucky you have bees that seem to be heading that way.

Why don't you share how you have achieved this?

Let's hope your colony makes swarm/supersedure preps this year.

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My bees have never swarmed

I've been thinking about this........

When they make swarm preps this year perhaps you could use every swarm cell and offer them to your local BKA (I know you say you don't go any more but you could contact the apiary manager via email;, surely? )

Most beekeepers would jump at the chance to get their hands on a queen that might be carrying her mother's varroa tolerance....I know I would!

Where do you live? :wink::wink::wink:

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