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Category Archives: apiculture

  • It takes a surprinsingly long time to paint

    I still need to add a few decorations to make it cool. Unfortunately, the supplier has delayed delivery of the colonies by a week to allow the queens more time for their mating flight since the weather didn’t cooperate so far.

  • Getting ready for a new season

    New hive, with all the bells & whistles

    With plastic pierco frames, the smell of beeswax (of which the frames are coated) and pine is great

  • The hive is dead…

    Sad doesn’t begin to describe it

    Pulling what can be used, no way we’ll eat the honey.

    The last stand of the last nucleus of bees, all frozen in their last action. Barely decomposed as they probably lasted until a couple of days ago when the temperatures reached -15F.

  • The hive is a lighthouse

    The hive helped me find my way back home from the forest on more than one occasion. On an unrelated note, I ordered a borescope to see if the bees are still alive. If they are, I will built another top bar hive for next season for sure. If not I’ll have to consider what to do.

  • Hive & a ton more snow

    I’m thinking about getting a snake scope to see if there’s any activity in there. I couldn’t hear anything by sticking my ear to the hive but they’ve slowed down so much I didn’t really expect to.

  • Hive & snow

    I hope they’re warm enough.

  • Plastic foundation integration

    This is what my hack looks like as it is being assimilated by the bees.

  • Everything is back under control in the hive

    The unfortunate effect that I had in the hive by trying to fix things and enforce straight comb drawing had me pretty pessimistic about the chances of my bees this winter. Everything was completely disorganized with brood and honey in random places, way too many drones and barely any honey.

    The lesson I learned is that the hive is self healing and surprisingly so. Today’s ¬†inspection was an amazing discovery of their capacity to adjust. They reorganized all the frames, gathered some very good honey reserves late in the season and have a very healthy population.

    And the best part is that the approach of enforcing straight comb drawing with plastic foundation every other frame worked! It’s still not an ideal scenario to have plastic in my “natural” top bar hive but it definitely takes care of the problem and I still get half of the frames 100% built by the bees.

  • More top bar bullshit

    After the bee holocaust that was my first harvest, it became evident that I needed to monitor the hive more often for misaligned comb. They didn’t take long to fuck things up again by building shit all over the place.

    Well that’s just great

    As you can see on the above picture, they’re building from the walls, the ground and the comb on the bar to the right is slightly misaligned. What you are not seeing is that the layout of brood, honey & nectar throughout the hive is completely inconsistent. Where before brood was towards the front, honey the middle and nectar the back; everything is now all over the place most likely as a result of my adding empty bars and moving things around to encourage straight comb drawing.

    They started working on this mess a week ago and as soon as I saw it I ordered a bunch of these guys. Let’s ponder on the absurdity of the situation: the main argument for Top Bar Beekeeping is that it’s more natural, you let the bees do their things and yoink some honey every once in a while. Well guess what, you need the bees to build their shit exactly right or you’ll be decimating them every harvest for not much at all. I’m reduced to adding plastic foundation to my “natural” hive to enforce rather than encourage straight comb. And I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to fuck this up as well.

    This is my last attempt at fixing this, if they don’t get it right we’ll ditch Top Bar in favor of Langstroth next season.

    Cutting the plastic frames to specs

    A bunch of top bars with a slit a little wider to accommodate the plastic foundation

    Plastic top bar

    Good luck mis-aligning that

    I did every other bar in the area of the hive that was a mess

    As is becoming routine with top bar beekeeping: waste left for the bees to rob clean