Alternative Ways of Beekeeping

For an alternative method to the normal techniques we have been discussing. This article introduces some interesting alternatives.

Top Bar Hive – An Alternative Beekeeping Method

The topbar beehive is not a new concept. Historical reference to the top-bar hive date back to the 1600′s. Most of today’s top bar bee hives are derived from work in the 1960′s. It was perfected for use in Kenya, Africa, and is often referred to as the Kenya Hive. Today it is also used in many other developing countries for it’s simple design and cost effective management methods. In recent years it has also become more popular in the United States.

The traditional Langstroth beehive consists of several boxes (supers) and numerous other parts that are either difficult to build or expensive to buy. In addition to the beehive, the Langstroth hive requires many other pieces of equipment to harvest honey and manage your bees. Not so with the top bar hive as you can read below.

Simple and Maintenance-Free

The top bar hive has only a few components: the hive body (box), 20 to 30 top bars (frames), and a lid. That’s all you will ever need. Compare that to your Langstroth hive. Bees build their own comb which eliminates the need for costly frames. The top bars are re-used after the harvest.

Non-Invasive Design

The top bar hive is healthier for bees. To check your bees, you will not have to take the whole thing apart. Hence, your bees will be less disturbed by your presence and checking of the comb.

Easy Harvest

To harvest your honey, you simply remove the bars with honeycomb. Unlike traditional methods, you won’t have to take the hive apart and disturb the bees as much. Not only is the top bar hive less stressful to harvest for you, it also does not disturb the bees as much. In addition to honey, the top bar hive has more beeswax to harvest. You also do not need a honey extractor/centrifuge or uncapping knife which saves you thousands of dollars. Smoking is completely unnecessary and many top bar hive users do not wear protective clothing either. (For the beginner I do advise to use some kind of protection, gloves and veil as the minimum!) Once you remove the honey comb, the bees will go about their business as usual. Try that on a Langstroth hive.

Healthier Bees

The top bar hive is designed for the bees’ optimal living conditions. This makes a colony much stronger and enables it to fight off pests and diseases on their own, much better than in a Langstroth hive. Besides healthier bees this will save you hundreds of dollars in medication as well as disappointment.

Why doesn’t everyone use top bar hives?

The top bar hive is not designed for maximum honey production, although there have been reports otherwise. For the hobby beekeeper a few pounds less honey are well worth the ease of management. You will harvest more beeswax with a top bar hive though. Any hobbyist should have more of an interest in keeping healthy bees than in squeezing out a few more pounds of honey from a stressed, overworked colony. With just one top bar hive, you will still have more than enough honey for your whole family and friends.

By: petitepets

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More information about the top bar hive as well as pictures, construction plans, forum and sources to buy one can be found on PetitePets.com

 As you can see there are many different ways to the normal beekeeping techniques we have become accustomed to.

Beekeeping For Pleasure

Beekeeping For Pleasure

Beekeeping for pleasure and profit is carried on by many thousands of people in all parts of the United States. As a rule, it is not the sole occupation. There are, however, many places where an experienced bee keeper can make a good living by devoting his entire time and attention to this line of work. It is usually unwise to undertake extensive beekeeping without considerable previous experience on a small scale, since there are so many minor details which go to make up success in the work. It is a good plan to begin on a small scale, make the bees pay for themselves and for all additional apparatus, as well as some profit, and gradually to increase as far as the local conditions or the desires of the individual permit.

Bee culture is the means of obtaining for human use a natural product which is abundant in almost all parts of the country, and which would be lost to us were it not for the honey bee. The annual production of honey and wax in the United States makes apiculture a profitable minor industry of the country. From its very nature it can never become one of the leading agricultural pursuits, but that there is abundant opportunity for its growth can not be doubted. Not only is the honey bee valuable as a producer, but it is also one of the most beneficial of insects in cross-pollinating the flowers of various economic plants.

Beekeeping is also extremely fascinating to the majority of people as a pastime, furnishing outdoor exercise as well as intimacy with an insect whose activity has been a subject of absorbing study from the earliest times. It has the advantage of being a recreation which pays its own way and often produces no mean profit.

It is a mistake, however, to paint only the bright side of the picture and leave it to the new bee keeper to discover that there is often another side. Where any financial profit is derived, beekeeping requires hard work and work at just the proper time, otherwise the surplus of honey may be diminished or lost. Few lines of work require more study to insure success. In years when the available nectar is limited, surplus honey is secured only by judicious manipulations, and it is only through considerable experience and often by expensive reverses that the bee keeper is able to manipulate properly to save his crop. Anyone can produce honey in seasons of plenty, but these do not come every year in most locations, and it takes a good bee keeper to make the most of poor years. When, even with the best of manipulations, the crop is a failure through lack of nectar, the bees must be fed to keep them from starvation.

The average annual honey yield per colony for the entire country, under good management, will probably be 25 to 30 pounds of comb honey or 40 to 50 pounds of extracted honey. The money return to be obtained from the crop depends entirely on the market and the method of selling the honey. If sold direct to the consumer, extracted honey brings from 10 to 20 cents per pound, and comb honey from 15 to 25 cents per section. If sold to dealers, the price varies from 6 to 10 cents for extracted honey and from 10 to 15 cents for comb honey. All of these estimates depend largely on the quality and neatness of the product. From the gross return must be deducted from 50 cents to $1 per colony for expenses other than labor, including foundation, sections, occasional new frames and hives, and other incidentals. This estimate of expense does not include the cost of new hives and other apparatus needed in providing for increase in the size of the apiary.

Above all it should be emphasized that the only way to make beekeeping a profitable business is to produce only a first-class article. We can not control what the bees bring to the hive to any great extent, but by proper manipulations we can get them to produce fancy comb honey, or if extracted honey is produced it can be carefully cared for and neatly packed to appeal to the fancy trade. Too many bee keepers, in fact, the majority, pay too little attention to making their goods attractive. They should recognize the fact that of two jars of honey, one in an ordinary fruit jar or tin can with a poorly printed label, and the other in a neat glass jar of artistic design with a pleasing, attractive label, the latter will bring double or more the extra cost of the better package. It is perhaps unfortunate, but nevertheless a fact, that honey sells largely on appearance, and a progressive bee keeper will appeal as strongly as possible to the eye of his customer.

By: Bill Ronin -

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For further informative articles about bees, beekeeping, and honey – please visit our website: The Health Benefits Of Honey

Beekeeping Equipment

When one ventures into beekeeping, beekeeping equipment or apiary equipment is very essential. The various beekeepers’ equipments are veil, gloves, clothing, smoker, queen excluders, bee feed and feeders, honey extractors and wax processors.

Protective clothing protects beekeepers from stings of honey bees. A smoker allows beekeeper to control bees and hence protects against stings. A hive tool helps beekeeper in gently prying apart top bars or frames thus reducing risk of disturbing the bees. All of these equipments can be made locally by tinsmiths or tailors. These can be procured through various beekeeping stores, associations or can be bought online. Beekeeping catalogue of reputed companies come handy in selecting the cost effective product. Internet is a very versatile source of finding beekeeping equipment suppliers.

Whatever the mode of procuring beekeeping equipment, it should meet the requirement and must be cost effective and durable.

The various beekeeping equipments are

1. Veil: A veil is the most important equipment required by a honey beekeeper. It can be a plastic or metal screen, nylon mesh or mosquito netting. It can also be made to fit over a wide brim hat that holds the veil away from the face and neck. Elastic or rubber band is used to hold veil onto the hat. The color of the mesh material should be dark so as to limit reflection and help in visibility.

2. Gloves are another apiary equipment that is needed in case the bees are volatile. These can be made of leather or cloth. Buy that reach up to elbow so as to cover maximum part of the hand.

3. Clothing forms an important part of honey beekeeping equipment. they must be light in color and loose-fitting as bees do not get attracted towards light color. Overalls are the best option as they cover the whole body.

4. Smoker is essentially protective equipment in the sense that it prevents bees from stinging the beekeeper. It helps in making bees consume honey instead of flying and stinging. A smoker has firebox along with grate that holds the smoldering material. It has a nozzle which directs the path of smoke.

Locally made smokers go a long way in meeting the exact requirement of an apiary. As local tinsmith can understand the requirement and design smoker as per your description, this form of smokers are the best choice. Otherwise, you can check in used beekeeping equipment shop for a smoker that meets your requirement.

5. Honey extractors: These beekeeping equipments are very essential once honey is formed and needs to be extracted. You can go through beekeeping equipment catalogue for the best honey extractors.

6. Honey and wax processors: Once honey is extracted, it needs to be processed so as to refine it and clean it of all impurities. This processed honey is the honey that is sold and has huge demand. Likewise, beeswax needs to be processed so as to be fit for use in shoe polish, candle and other such products. Honey and wax processors can be purchased online from any beekeeping equipment supplier.

Beekeeping in Utah

Beekeeping in Utah has a long tradition and it has more than 300 registered beekeepers. All interested persons who would like to be beekeepers in Utah have to obtain a license from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. The cost of license is $25 per individual or business. All apiaries and hives in the State of Utah need to be marked with the owner’s or business’ name, UDAF license number and phone number. Markings should be legible and permanent.  To facilitate inspection of colonies of honey bees, they need to be maintained in hives that have removable frame equipment. To move bee colonies in and out of the State of Utah, inspection of bee colonies is mandatory. Residents of State of Utah need to contact local county inspector and non-residents need to contact the state entomologist for inspection before entry into State.

Utah Beekeepers Association keeps beekeepers in the State of Utah well-informed regarding events and news in the beekeeping industry. It helps in promoting beekeeping and production of honey for all types of beekeepers viz, commercial, hobbyist and sideliners. The association’s membership dues are as follows: for hobbyist who own 0-49 colonies – $10.00 per year, for sideliner who owns 50-299 colonies – $20.00 per year, commercials who own 300 or more colonies – $30.00 per year.

Another beekeeper’s association in State of Utah is the Utah County Beekeepers Association (UCBA). It is a group of individuals that shares a common passion for beekeeping, bees, and honey. Members’ participation is encouraged so as to have diverse views and opinion that helps in success of beekeeping and honey production. UCBA provides a forum for local beekeepers to share ideas, explore methods, discuss the culture and support each another. It educates general public regarding importance of beekeeping in Utah County in particular and in US in general. It aims at benefiting local businessmen, educationists and last but not the least, the beekeepers.

UCBA guides new beekeeper regarding time to begin beekeeping, temperament required for beekeeping, capital investment, supplies, equipment, selection of apiary site along with medicines and pest control information. It provides all the information regarding laws and regulations governing beekeeping in the State of Utah. It helps beekeepers regarding selection of bees, preparing hives, honey extraction, processing honey and wax and then selling processed honey and wax. The association also helps in giving tips on preparing various items like candles, polish etc. to its members.

UCBA has vast resource of books that help enrich knowledge and information for the members as regards to beekeeping. Books by renowned beekeepers are treasures that members can access and enrich themselves. The association makes available two magazines, American Bee Journal and Bee Culture which focus on broad areas of beekeeping and are helpful to all those who are interested in beekeeping. Association organizes classes for beginners each spring which lasts for six hours and it covers all the required information.

Thus, beekeeping in State of Utah has progressed rapidly due to informed beekeeping by its beekeepers and assistance provided by UCBA and Utah Beekeeper’s Association.

Bee keeping Supplies

Typical beekeeping supplies include bees, queen bee, hives, swarms, Nuc Boxes, frames and foundations. These are supplies that are essential for hive making. Along with these, bee medication is also an important honeybee supply.

The first and foremost supply is of bees. The source of bees varies according to the region. If an area has experienced honey beekeepers, it is prudent to obtain bees from them and make sure that the colony is established one. In case the colony is in a fixed-comb hive, then that can be transferred onto frame-type of hive. Bees can be bought in packages or in nuc boxes. Nuc boxes have nuclei or nuc which is a small colony and has an adult bee and has bars or frames along with comb, brood and stores. A package consists of a screen-wire box that has worker bees and a caged queen bee. The honey bees are generally sold by weight.

While opting for high-tech beekeeping, bee keepers’ supplies should be obtained in packages and nucs. Before installing them in the hive, expert opinion can be sought from sellers. It is essential that the source of bees is local so as to avoid disease, pests and unwanted bee stains as a result of imported bees.

Next, supply of swarms is also another option to obtain bees and it is an important beekeeping supply. Swarms can be obtained in an area where they are routinely found. Use of bait hive is very effective in catching swarms. Swarms can also be procured from nearby apiary. This is a fast way of breeding bees.

Next honey beekeeping supply is hive. Hives are of different types like fixed-comb hives, moveable-comb hives, Langstroth hive, etc. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Depending upon your requirement and scale of honey beekeeping, you can opt for a hive. Fixed-comb hive are naturally built on natural structures like trees. Moveable –comb hive and Langstroth hives can be built or can be purchased from stores or online. Polystyrene hive is another type of hive that is easily available online.

Nuc boxes that come along with frames have become essential part of beekeeper’s supplies. With 5 Frame Nuc Feeder, feeding nucs has become easy. They come with plastic top feeder with five frames. The feeder covers the entire top of the nuc. Thus, there is no need to open the nuc and disturb the bees to refill the feeder. You have to just lift the lid and fill the reservoir. Nuc boxes can be bought at any beekeeping store or online.

Foundation is also an important honeybee supply. It is generally made of plastic and wax that is the base for honey bees to draw out the comb.

Thus, it is clear that all the beekeeping supplies are easily available, though care should be taken to procure bee, queen bee and swarm locally so as to avoid disease that come with imported bee stock. Also, most of the other supplies are easily available online and in beekeeping stores. These supplies can be procured locally through beekeeping associations and experienced beekeepers in your area.

Principles of Beekeeping : Harvesting Honey From a Bee Hive

Compact Bee Hives

A beehive is an enclosed structure that houses and raises honey bees.  Natural beehives, also called as nest, occur naturally on natural structures like trees, bushes etc. and are occupied by honey bee colonies.  Honey bees that are domesticated for production of honey are housed in man-made beehives.  Generally, only subgenus Apis species reside in hives, and out of these species only Apis mellifera, also known as Western honey bee, and the Apis cerana, known as Eastern honey bee, are domesticated.

The internal structure of a hive consists of a matrix that is densely packed with hexagonal cells that are made of beeswax.  This is referred as honeycomb. These cells are utilized to store pollen and honey and for providing shelter to eggs, larvae and pupae.

A man made small bee hive should be economical, compact and easy to handle.  There are various types of hives:

Fixed-comb hive: This is man-made cavity that can be bark cylinders, hollowed-out logs, basket of straw, wooden boxes, bamboo or wicker, metal cans, or drums.   You will find honey bees attached to the combs directly at the upper surfaces of fixed-comb hive generally to the sides. There is space between combs left by honey bees. This hive cannot be replaced as comb can be removed only by cutting it.  This kills the bees.  Though this type of hive is economical, it is not widely used for this reason.

Langstroth hive, which is widely used hive for domesticated honey bee, is moveable frame hive.  It is so named because it was invented by Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth.  It is used in 75% of beekeeping around the world.  This small beehive is compact hive which provides bee space which helps them to propolize small spaces which is less than 1/4 inch.

Langstroth hive makes use of standard size for hive body that is a rectangular box without top or bottom and a frame.  The parts are interchangeable and the frame can be
removed easily to inspect and replace without killing the bees.

Langstroth hive body is rectangular-shaped styrofoam or wooden box which is stacked to expand the space that can be used by the bees. Frames inside the boxes are hung in parallel fashion.  The size of the hive depends on air temperature outside along with source of food in winter.  In winter, large food storage is required.  The box is made slightly deeper in winter. 

Langstroth frame is a thin rectangular structure that can be made from plastic or wood.  It has plastic or wax foundation that is the base for honey bees to draw out the comb. The frame holds the beeswax honeycomb that is manufactured by honey bees.  Generally, 10 frames that are side-to-side fill the body of the hive along with leaving the required amount of bee space between each frame.  This also leaves enough space between the end frames and the hive body.

Langstroth frames should be reinforced with wire.  This helps in extracting honey in centrifuges that spin the honey out of the frames. The empty frames are reused next season.

What is an Apiary?

An apiary, which is also known as a bee yard, is a place where beehives of honey bees is reared and kept. Beekeepers are also known as apiarists.  Apiary or apiculture, which derives its meaning from Latin word apis which mean bee, is maintenance of honeybee hives by humans. An apiarist might keep bees with the objective of collecting honey and beeswax or with the objective of pollinating crops or producing bees for sale to other apiarists.  Beekeeping apiary is one of the oldest forms of food production.

To start an apiary, two bee colonies is considered an ideal number. You can expand it in few years as you gain experience.  It is assumed that a single hive produces 50 to 100 pounds of honey every year. Start with right type of hive.  Assemble bees in hive using experts.  You can either build your own hive or get one build from local tinsmith.  You can also order all the parts of hives from a store. 

Plan bee apiary in upcoming season by ordering bees, hives and other apiary supplies and equipment well in advance.  Fall is the best time to buy all the supplies.  All the equipments should be assembled in winter so as to make arrangement for bees to be placed after arrival.  Then place hive at the designated place for the apiary.  At this juncture, you can become member of local apiary association to gain further information about beekeeping.  This will also help you in sharing your problems with more experienced apiarists who will eagerly help you out. 

Location of apiary is very important.  It is advantageous to place apiary where there is plenty of pollen and nectar source such as flowers and corn, ornamental trees and plants.  Apiary should be near a good source of clean water.  It is prudent to provide water source so as to prevent bees from moving into neighbor’s area in search of water. A bee apiary must face south or southeast along with a windbreak behind.  The area must not be damp and must have sufficient shade.  The apiary must be easily approachable for you to work around it.

Selection of correct apiary equipment is very essential.  Buy new equipment if you are new to beekeeping apiary.  If you purchase colonies or equipment from other beekeeper, get it tested by concerned department for any disease or pest stains.  Irrespective of how and from where you purchase your apiary equipment, it needs to meet the standard required by you.  Buy all the protective gear required for beekeeping apiary such as overalls, gloves, masks, veil and smokers so as to protect from bee stings as well as facilitate easy handling of bees.

Take precaution against spread of disease.  Use Terramycin twice every year before and after the honey flow so as to prevent foulbrood disease.  Use Fumadil "B" (Fumagillin) to control Nosema disease which inflicts adult bees.  Hive should be tilted slightly so that water does not accumulate inside.  The hive should be properly ventilated from top.  Food supply should be ensured to prevent bees from dying due to hunger.

The Best Beekeeping Books part 3

Here are another selection of useful books on beekeeping.

8. The Beekeeper’s Handbook: A Teaching Text for Beginner’s to Advanced Beekeepers by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile.  This book covers changes in beekeeping.  It details the crisis created by the parasitic bee mites, mite detection and control.  It guides regarding selection and testing of bees that are tolerance to mites.

9. Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding by Harry Hyde Laidlaw and Robert E. Page: This book gives tips on Queen Bee rearing and bee breading.

10. Practical Beekeeping by Clive De Bruyn: This book provides complete guidance on bee and its management.  It covers bee and its environment, management of apiary, hives and other equipment and control of pests and diseases. It has good illustrations with photographs.  This book won Apimondia medal in 1999.

11. Bee Products: Properties, Applications and Apitherapy by Avshalom Mizrahi and Yaacov Lensky: This hardcover book is a collection of 31 papers on honey and pollen, propolis, royal jelly, venom, contaminants and toxicity, quality control, healing with honey, marketing, cosmetics and other topics relating to beekeeping and using bees.  These papers also include use of honey as an antimicrobial agent.

The Best Beekeeping Books Part 2

For the second part of beekeeping books, here are more great books available for you.

4. Beekeeping by Kim Flottum: This is the latest book which has good photographs and illustrations.  It has various recipes for candles, skin care products and food. This book is helpful for beginners as well as experienced beekeepers.

5. Keeping Bees by John Vivian and Liz Buell: This paper bag edition guides a beginner through the fundamental aspects of apiculture ranging from building hive, bee management, honey harvesting and candle making. It also provides apiary expenses and accurate information on various bee diseases along with “Africanization” problem.

6. Beekeeping: A Practical Guide by Richard E. Bonney and Sandra Webb Bonney. This paperback provides useful information for new beekeepers as well as experienced one regarding every aspects of beekeeping like, acquiring bees, preventing tracheal mites, dealing with Africanized bees, etc.

7. The Honey Bee by James L. Gould. This book gives description of history of beekeeping along with biology of honeybees.  It is devoted to description of behavior of the individual bee and colony as a whole, communication within the colony, the scientific controversy surrounding nature of the dance language, programmed learning, navigation and the evolution of the dance language.