Warre Beehive Special Offer

FREE delivery on all Warre Beehives ordered in the months of October & November 2012. To order your bee hive call David on 01736 785777.

Also included- Your Free Natural Beekeeping HelpLine.

Best wishes,

David

Bee Alert from Phil Chandler

Dear friends,

Whether you are a beekeeper, a conservationist, an ecologist, a food-producer or a parent – please take half an hour to watch this new American video documentary about the global death of honeybees, bumblebees and other pollinators.

This is NOT just about the death of entire bee populations around the world, it is about the potential loss of 30% of our food supply and an all-out assault on the ecosystems of the world: insects, birds, amphibians, bats, fish – everything is threatened by the global distribution of hyper-toxic, neuro-toxic pesticides being applied to over 200 million acres of corn and crops in North America alone.

These systemic neurotoxins are present in just about every single plant of maize, wheat, barley, rice, oilseed rape, peas, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, almonds – you name it.  Hundreds of millions of acres of food crops, lawns and wildflowers now contain neonicotinoids in their pollen, nectar and fruit – which is why bees, bumblebees, butterflies and pollinators are  dying by the billion.  Government knows full well what is going on, as does the pesticide industry; indeed, they have known this since 1985 when they invented neonics; but the sums of money involved are colossal – enough to ‘buy’ government agreement, regulatory surrender – and to silence any critics in the wildlife and beekeeping sectors.

http://www.linktv.org/video/8123/killing-bees-are-government-and-industry-responsible

This hard-hitting film lays the blame for this global ecological crisis, firmly on the doorstep of the government regulatory agencies in America and Europe – working in collusion that verges on open conspiracy with the giant pesticide companies.  The film has been produced by Earth Focus in the USA, working closely with PANNA – Pesticide Action Network North America, Beyond Pesticides and a variety of independent beekeepers, notably Tom Theobald and Dave Hackenburg.

CONSPIRACY AND COLLUSION
The implications of this are staggering; this is the ‘big Tobacco’ story all over again. From the 1960s onwards, independent scientists highlighted cigarette smoking as the cause of tens of millions of cancer deaths, world-wide.  However, ‘Big Tobacco’ fought this analysis successfully for over 20 years and kept the profits rolling in, despite the untold suffering and mass-deaths of millions of people on every continent.  The weapons which they used in that battle were:

  • Disinformation: the spreading of doubt and counter-information
  • Corrupt Science: falsified science studies funded in universities around the globe
  • Government Collusion and the corruption of regulatory agencies

This film documents how, in the case of global bee-deaths, the same techniques are being used to castrate the regulatory watchdogs; to spread false information about the real cause of bee deaths via press, radio and television, and how national beekeeping agencies have been infiltrated, bribed and co-opted to meet the needs of the pesticide companies.

Please watch this crucially important film and forward this to every beekeeper and environmental organisation that you know, via email, Facebook and Twitter.

http://www.linktv.org/video/8123/killing-bees-are-government-and-industry-responsible

Many thanks,

David

Warre Beehive News: Winter stores, will my honey bees have enough food?

Winter stores, will my honey bees have enough food?

Feeding sugar syrup of 1 to 1 with water is the norm for many traditional beekeepers and with the mixed summer this practice is sadly being used more regularly than normal or required!

As a natural beekeeper, I treat our Warre Beehives and Horizontal hives more like a nest box for a bird: minimum interference, letting nature take its course and the survival of the fittest. I do, however, monitor our hives landing board bee behaviour, listen and smell to ensure the hive is strong and healthy. Only when these external signals indicate concern would I carry out an internal inspection of the hive.

All the time now I seek to judge if the bees have foraged another stores for the winter. Inspection windows prove vital for viewing rows of comb filled with capped honey.

Since late July there seems to have been some catch up by the bees, however the bees stores can just as easily and rapidly decline again if we are subjected to a sustained period of rain, say during the relatively mild month of September for example.

Natural Beekeeping Beehive Report-

Our Warre Beehive and Horizontal Beehive status for late August is as-

A-2 off Warre Beehives, 3 box high configuration, currently has 1.5 to 2 boxes of honey stores.

B- 1 off Warre Beehive, 4 box configuration, 2.5 to 3 Boxes of honey stores, the bees have built right to the bottom of the fourth box. (In a reasonable bee harvesting year I would see all my Warre beehives as 4 box high.)

C- 1 off Horizontal Topbar beehive, they have over 10 combs of stores, (I stopped looking at this point to minimise disruption) sufficient if not excess for the winter.

In theory you could harvest excess honey from hives B & C, however due to the unpredictable springs and summers we are having recently I have decided to leave all stores on the hives. Any harvesting of truly excess honey will have to wait to spring 2013 starts proper. (The winter weather is often not a problem, its when Spring starts or not next year that is our real concern.)

Judging winter stores, to feed or not to feed are difficult decisions for new natural beekeepers, if in doubt do use our “Natural Beekeeping Helpline” we will be pleased to help.

Best regards,

David

Beekeeping News: Friends of the Earth, The BEE Cause

The BEE Cause is launched by Friends of the Earth and you can help save British bees by joining the Bee Cause and committing to a National Bee Action Plan by adding your name to a petition to David Cameron.

The site also gives a diary of bee friendly events and courses around the UK which might also be of interest.

One of the bees campaigns initial successes is that of the Welsh Government announcing a Welsh Pollination Action Plan, so it does seem that ‘people power’ works.

For more information see Friends of the Earth special bee website www.foe.co.uk/bees.

Best regards,

David

How to keep bees and develop your interest further. Beekeeping A Beginner’s Guide, written by David Cramp.

From time to time I am asked to review new beekeeping books. This book “Beekeeping A Beginner’s Guide” favours a traditional approach to beekeeping.

The author, David Cramp, views beekeeping in the same role as that of a livestock farmer, whilst a natural beekeeper like me sees the honey bee as a wild insect; this means our approach to beekeeping is different.

The book is a brief guide to a wide range of beekeeping topics and an overview of the traditionalist beekeeper’s practices throughout the year. For the natural beekeeper it’s pleasing to read about encouraging all beekeepers to leave adequate honey within the hives for the bees to successfully winter on, and a short section on monitoring bee behaviour outside of the hive.

References to Varroa treatment as “a must” or your colony will be completely overwhelmed and destroyed do not follow my own experiences: I have colonies in Warre bee hives in their third year expanding successfully with zero Varroa treatment!

Like traditional beekeepers the natural beekeeper needs to be aware of bee diseases as summarised within the book.

The author, David Cramp, throughout the book encourages new beekeepers to secure the advice of an experienced beekeeper when unsure. This was one of the reasons why our Natural Beekeeping Helpline was created to provide a friendly ear and natural beekeeping advice for those wishing to follow a bee guardian route.

In summary, not a book for the natural beekeeper. However, it does provide a brief overview of the scope of traditional beekeeping methods for those readers wishing to know more before deciding on their own beekeeping methodology, traditional or natural beekeeping.

Best regards, David

You can find out more about purchasing this book on www.howtobooks.co.uk

Natural Beekeeping Update

Our two Bee Apiaries are juggling on with the British weather; we have a mixture of Warre Beehives at 3 and 4 box high configurations.

Due to the generally colder and more unsettled bee friendly weather than last year I would say typically the bees are behind on comb and potential winter stores. However they seem active and healthy from observing landing board activity and bee behaviour.

As previous years we have carried out no Varroa treatment, not even sugar dusting. To me this is really exciting news and suggests that bees “left alone” within a Warre beehive (higher temperature than a National hive) can coexist with the Varroa mite.

I appreciate that my number of hives does not constitute proof, it would therefore be interesting to hear from other Warre Beehive keepers if they are also having success without chemicals.

Please if possible let me know before the forthcoming 2012 UK Natural Beekeeping conferences; it would be good to try and gather some numbers and opinions on this natural beekeeping subject.

My next beekeeping task is to take the now populated Bait Hive from our garden located on the garage roof (I really do not like ladders!) to one of our Apiaries. The Swarm arrived over 3 weeks ago, since them they have showed nothing but strength and bee health.

Our Bait Hive is a 2 off Warre beehive configuration; hence this takes away the rush and need to transfer the bees. We can simply strap the hive together and move when convenient. (Used Warre beehive boxes make the best bait hives. For this reason we have started selling separately Warre floor & Landing Board, Quilt box and Beehive Roof, as well as the Boxes. Please call for details).

Having a Bait Hive in the garden is also very exciting; my daughter and I have spent many a happy time watching honey bees come and go, in great anticipation of an arriving swarm. You could say it’s an excellent way to keep bees in a small garden; obviously you need an apiary of your own or friends to relocate them if your garden is not ultimately suitable or populated by small children!

Happy beekeeping,

David

Bees in Trees: Unmanaged Honey Bees in the US

This is the title of an article that appeared in the BBKA News incorporating the British Bee Journal. Issue March 2012, written by Dr Deborah Delaney, University of Delaware, USA. I have added my own thoughts to this feature, from a natural beekeeping perspective.

Well, first of all, good on the bees for escaping and living free “Unmanaged”.

It seems that the unmanaged bee population particularly in the forests of Eastern North America with plenty of ideal cavities to nest has a more diverse genetic gene pool than the managed honey bee by US beekeepers.

The story goes that the feral Western honey bee, Apis Mellifera, success is also due to nest site suitability (Tree), natural breeding and the bees ability to thermo-regulate the nest.

To confirm these claims the feature also gives us a history of the introduction of the honey bee to Americaby the “New World” European settlers, this being relevant to confirming the counting and recording of the US unmanaged bees. Their DNA analysis makes it possible to distinguish unmanaged bees as feral bees from the original European introduction, rather than recently escaped swarms via the “modern” beekeeper.

Figures showed the managed population of honey bees in the US to be in decline, close to 35% in the winter of 2007-2008, 29% in 2009. Scientists also estimate that a feral bee colony life span would be between one and four years with the presence of Varroa destructor.

However, it is now felt that the feral bee population in the US has not only survived but also rebounded. 

In 2009, the Feral Bee Project was started. Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers are used to assess ancestry and genetic differentiation, or in other words confirm that sampled bees were in fact feral, truly unmanaged.

This project further concluded that feral bees were persisting in spite of the Varroa mite and the unexplained die-offs in managed honey bee populations.

In the feature it says other studies also highlighted that whilst it was found feral honey bee colonies were infested with Varroa mites the “Varroa mites in this forest have developed a stable coexistence with them” the bees. Natural beekeeper comments- Surely the “bees” have adapted and are able to have a coexistence with the Varroa mite. It’s worth noting that if you regularly / routinely add chemicals to treat your bees for Varroa you are slowing down this process of coexistence between parasite and host! A study inFrance evidently reported that unmanaged bees were able to survive for up to eleven years!

The feature continues by saying “Hopefully the Feral Bee Project and off-shoot research will lead to the identification of true “survivor stock” here in the US that could be used to develop sustainable breeding programmes”. Natural beekeeper comments- Surely a bee breeding programme, we will never keep up with natural selection and its own success.

Thankfully, the report also says it wish to “Identify mechanisms and traits that enable feral colonies to coexist with various pests and pathogens”. Natural beekeeper comments- Natural comb, higher temperature in the hive, less stress and natural selection of the strongest queen and drones, diversity of forage, density of colonies  will be found to be critical elements!

Then the feature says, “Most beekeepers cannot afford to simply let nature take its course”. Natural beekeeper comments- Well here is one of the route causes of poor bee population health: factory farming by man, by stripping bees the status of wild insects!

The next step in the Feral Bee Project is to integrate colony health measures with survivability and to understand the mechanisms that are allowing these unmanaged honey bee colonies to flourish in spite of large scale decline in managed bee colonies. Natural beekeeper comments- I will simply keep providing, as near as possible the ideal nest environment, minimum interference, allow the bees to build their own comb and swarm naturally… I believe the Warre beehive and Topbar beehives and the natural beekeeping philosophy offers prevention to the decline in bee health and population. Seeking cures from the scientific body will only result in temporary improvements before the next man-made crisis due to manipulation of the honey bee.

David Johnson
Natural Beekeeping

Beekeeping Equipment – Warre Bee Hive Boxes, Top Bars and Castellations

Many of you have been asking if we supply Warre Bee Hive Boxes separately: the answer is yes.

  • Cedar Warre Beehive Box with glass inspection window, grooved  top bars and castellation £50.80 plus postage.
  • Top bars (Cedar), 8 off £6.00 plus postage.
  • Castellations,  2 off per set £2.20 plus postage.

For all your natural beekeeping equipment please do not hesitate to call.

Best wishes,

David

Natural Beekeeping Summer 2012

Even for the natural beekeeper, May and June are busy months in the beekeeping calendar.

For each of our natural beekeeping apiaries I have added (Nadiring) an extra Warre bee hive box to each of our hives, (I normally add one box at a time, so the hive space progresses more evenly. You could add two boxes in one go if you wished; this does mean less operations, so there are plus to both Nadiring options). 

I normally carry out the Nadiring operation when I see the natural comb to be about halfway down the Warre bee hive box. Importantly, ensure all new topbars are waxed so the queen and the bees are encouraged to move down the hive.

One of my favourite sights is seeing the bees linking together in a chain to build new comb so opening the cover of one of our Warre bee hive inspection windows is always an exciting moment. (Please only open one inspection window at a time and for a minimum duration as well.)

Other duties are keeping the landing board clear of tall grass. I find placing a paving stone in-front of the hive as well as under, proves to be a good idea.

Finally, many thanks for your calls on the Natural Beekeeping Helpline. Please keep them coming: it is our pleasure to hear of everybody’s progress and be able to provide answers in confidence to your natural beekeeping questions.

Best wishes, David

 

Catching a Swarm with a Bait Hive

Many of our natural beekeepers are using bait hives to catch a swarm, and are using their new Natural Beekeeping Warre bee hives to help them do this.

Here are a few guidelines to help you be successful in catching a swarm with your very own hive / bait hive – (Yes, Scout bees do actually have a shopping list and your ideal home needs to be up to scratch on all points.)

If you’re using your new Warre hive, it should be in the two box format. Do wax the top bars, just add the top box bars only. (When the colony is settled add top bars to the lower box.) This will give you an estimated volume of 36 Litres, approx the average size of cavity the bees are looking for to inhabit.

The box height is important, ideal being between 6 to 10 feet.

Best locations are loan trees (navigation trees for bees) edge of woodland and with a nearby water supply.

The bait hive also needs to be in dappled sunlight at mid afternoon so the hive does not become too hot, the canopy of the tree is excellent for this.

Always ensure the entrance to the hive is clearly visible and not blocked from view by branches for example.

Your hive should also have the correct smell. Use Lemon Grass Oil for example. Smear on the inside of the hive. Additionally use a cloth soaked in Lemon Grass and place in a zip up bag, like a food freezer bag. Leave just a very small gap so the smell is released slowly (and the bees cannot get in). Old comb, previously used hives are also preferred by the scout bees. (Do check the condition of comb; destroy immediately if it becomes damp etc.)

If you are catching a swarm from your own apiary I would suggest using several bait hives, placed 300 meters or more from your hives. After catching your first swarm do replace the bait hive to catch the second (bold) swarm and even a third / fourth swarm.

Do monitor your bait hives visually at least weekly. I would suggest giving your swarm approx a week to settle in the bait hive; during this time they would have started building comb and brood and will be less likely to abscond when you relocate the hive to its desired position. Double check the bees are orientated to their new location and have not returned to the bait hive original location.

Tips for fixing bait hives to trees, use wire strop with plastic protection, if using nails these must be aluminium.

Trust this information helps, any questions as always do call.

Best wishes,

David