It's springtime in Wyoming and you know what that means; bees, chickens and gardening! Naturally, of course. I acquired my second top bar hive and my package of bees arrive the last week of April so I thought I'd share the process, beginning with hiving the little wonders! If you're a backyard beekeeper already or investigating the possibility, be sure to research the positive effects of managing your hives with pure essential oils. The fewer chemicals used the better! Personally, I don't use chemicals at all, none! I prefer to keep bees in the most natural way possible, including the use of top bar hives which allow bees to build their own combs naturally, natural honeycomb is a gorgeous creation but more importantly, the natural process builds stronger colonies, it's these genetics you want to help perpetuate. Lemongrass is a staple for hive management, used both as an attractant and an immunity booster. Note: only use pure essential oils with a dietary standard, do not introduce solvents or other additives found in diluted oil to your hive. Don't just take my word for it, there's scientific proof that beekeeping with essential oils makes stronger hives and reduces Colony Collapse Disorder. "African people used lemon grass to manage honeybees for the last 60,000 years. They deserve the original credit for that. We mix it with spearmint, and it helps the bees resist the pathogens the mites carry by possibly boosting the bees’ immune systems,” said Amrine. “The underlying mechanisms of action of essential oils are poorly understood. There are various reports that state they are cytophylactic or that they actively stimulate the immune system to help ‘fight off’ pathogens."
This is a bar pulled from the top bar hive for inspection, beautiful!
When my package of Light Italian bees with queen included arrives, I'll put my bee gear on which includes a jacket with netted hood, gloves and high-top hiking boots. No smoke needed when hiving bees, you want them focused not disoriented by smoke. I'll pull the queen box from the package and attach the box inside the hive with a piece of marshmallow plugging the box for the bees to eat through to slow the process of getting to the queen. I'll then drip 3 drops of Lemongrass to the bottom of the hive that will serve to attract the bees. Lemongrass mimics the queen's pheromones, heady stuff to bees!
Next up, I dump (yes, dump) the bees from their ventilated package into the empty hive, it's fairly unceremonious. Then I'll secure the roof and let the magic begin. The first time I hived bees I was pretty nervous but it's really a very simple process. Just be prepared for a whole lot of energy pulsing from that package of 10,000 bees, it's an adrenaline rush to say the least!
If you're interested in getting started as a natural backyard beekeeper, here's a great site to peruse! www.beethinking.com
"Natural beekeeping is a phrase often used to describe many different approaches to beekeeping. While there's not one agreed-upon definition, our definition of natural beekeeping is minimal manipulation, natural combs (no foundation), and no medication (chemical treatments). This is a stark contrast to the predominant practices in beekeeping today that generally include frequent hive inspections, queen replacements, feeding, single cell size foundation, chemicals, and a myriad of other regimens.
Our approach comes from the perspective that honey bees are amazingly successful creatures that, if given the opportunity, can succeed without human intervention. Our goal is to provide the bees with a good environment in which to thrive without us. We do believe the best environment is in a hive with natural comb, such as a top bar hive, Warré hive or a foundationless Langstroth hive."