Chop Wood Carry Water Plant Seeds is a blog about Self-Sufficient Homesteading. How can we live by creating a sustainable bio-diverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have? What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A slightly different Top Bar Hive

I made a decision to make two identical Kenyan Top Bar Hives suited for the cold, damp, windy climate of South of Sweden. After researching alot and corresponding with the Natural Beekeeping Beeks like Dennis Murrell, Michael Bush, Phil Chandler, (reading) Tobias Olofsson and Ed. H. Clark I feel confident to go the "Condenser Hive" route rather than the convensional "Ventilator Hive" idea.

Tobias Olofsson of Lund University of Sweden wrote this;

Lactic acid bacteria form organic acids such as lactic, acetic and formic acid. These are acids used by beekeepers to combat mites and nosema. Lactic acid bacteria are numerous and resemble small factories in the hive where they prosper in the honey stomach, bee bread, bee pollen and honey. Perhaps they produce an arsenal of substances dispersed in the hive's atmosphere? Perhaps the atmosphere in the hive is important to preserve and this would be a reason to disturb the bees as little as possible. Samples from the lab shows that the bacteria produces large amounts of organic acids that seep into the atmosphere. In modern beehives there are bottom screens and entrances at the bottom; how does this affect a potential atmosphere that might prevent disease? The answer is quite logical, but I put the question to Martin Ferm at the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) in Gothenburg. The organic acids accumulates in a fairly closed room but with a bottom screen with the full thrust of the wind at the bottom and with entrances at the bottom that aired these acids out according to Martin. 
Wild bees prefer a hollow tree with only a small gap as opening and they are very careful to seal every crack or hole. We will be investigating this properly: what is the atmosphere like inside a hive if it can be left alone and what does such an atmosphere do to mites? Our pilot study that was conducted in the summer of 2009, in a hive during a typical summer day and while winter fodder was given, was just the beginning. Formic acid and acetic acid were found in the hive atmosphere in the visible amount during a typical summer day and in even larger amounts when the fodder was given. 
The Board of Agriculture allocated funds for one-fifth of this project, which means we'll be managing the project on a reduced scale and without pay, but we were thrilled because they dared to bet on such an odd project. 
The bees will more or less look after themselves and winter on their own honey. Half of the hives (all of foams) have bottom screen and bottom entrances and the other half have a protected passage in the attic and a completely closed bottom. After 6 weeks, all hives appear to thrive equally well. Data will be collected for a year and will be compared with bacterial organic acids measured with the same equipment in the lab.

Kenyan Top Bar Hive (KTBH) is by design long and not that tall nor wide. The hive Iv built today is designed by D. Murrell for his harsh Wyoming winters. I did make a few changes; instead of the low entrance I chose to make Top entrance la M. Bush. I sense such entrance will suit the damp Swedish climate much better

About Top Entrance;

"I had a neighbor who used the common box hive; he had a two inch hole in the top which he left open all winter; the hives setting on top of hemlock stumps without any protection, summer or winter, except something to keep the rain out and snow from beating into the top of the hive. he plastered up tight all around the bottom of the hive for winter. his bees wintered well, and would every season swarm from two to three weeks earlier than mine; scarcely any of them would come out on the snow until the weather was warm enough for them to get back into the hive.

"Since then I have observed that whenever I have found a swarm in the woods where the hollow was below the entrance, the comb was always bright and clean, and the bees were always in the best condition; no dead bees in the bottom of the log; and on the contrary when I have found a tree where the entrance was below the hollow, there was always more or less mouldy comb, dead bees &c.

"Again if you see a box hive with a crack in it from top to bottom large enough to put your fingers in, the bees are all right in nine cases out of ten. The conclusion I have come to is this, that with upward ventilation without any current of air from the bottom of the hive, your bees will winter well without any cobs."--Elishia Gallup, The American Bee Journal 1867, Volume 3, Number 8 pg 153

Michael Bush about Top Entrance in Bee Hives

. I aslo make the hive a bit smaller than Dennis designed it (his hive is 56cm wide mine is 45cm) Im still to make a waterproof roof and insulate it. There will be a ventilating space between the top bars top side and the roof so to avoid heat from the sun and in case of water condensing under it the wind can dry it.
attached the bottom board to the leggs, making sure to paint all parts of the wood which are in contact with raw Linseed Oil ... this hive is build with Pine.
... then attached the ends and sides (again making sure to oil all the wood parts which are in contact)
... it was time to cut all the Top Bars (34mm wide, 25mm tick, 450mm long)...
... this is the Top Entrance. Simply remove one Top Bar. 

Last time I did hive inspection with a friend he pushed the top bars into the hive with his body and the combs collapsed killing the Queen. I cut my new Top Bars in such a way so this cant happen again. 
... attached these profiles as comb extensions which will be coated in hot wax so bees get the feel where to start building.
I coated the outside with raw Linseed Oil, will give it another coat when dry ...
I coated the floor with Sunflower Oil mixed with Lemongrass Essential Oil. The Lemongrass is something which bees find similar to the Queens pheromone and the Sunflower oil is to prevent any mould from growing
finally I made a bee space (7mm) at the end of the hive so bees dont attach the comb to the back (which can happen anyway I think) and this also seals the end a bit better so there is no draft between the entrance and the back. This would defeat the Condenser Hive idea.

1 comment:

  1. Bees are amazing little creatures. They have such incredible building capabilities as seen with their hives that are perfect hexagonal shapes with the same exact measurements. So amazing that they have built the beehive in such a way that it has its own way to ward off bacteria and diseases. :)