Monday, March 2, 2009

A better way for bees?

The date for the entrance of the bees into Valhalla is slated for April 11th. So, I've been exploring and getting reaquainted with the old art of beekeeping lately.

To my good fortune, a friend of a friend of mine happens to be actively interested in a new (old) way of keeping bees called the Warre method which, among other things, dispenses with the whole frame and foundation system I've used in the past. The new approach is supposed to be better for the bees, simpler for the beekeeper, and produces higher quality honey. Also much to my good fortune, my friend happens to be super energetic, exacting and relentless in his craftsmanship, and a nice guy. So, he's already built up a set of these hives (first ones here in the Valley) and even built them to the Demeter Standards near and dear to the hearts of Bio Dynamics tribal elders. So, fancy hives, beautifully constructed, using natural materials, no ferrous metals, etc. Lucky bees.

I'm excited about the prospect of pampering my bees this time around. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, they need all the help they can get these days. The Warre method also results in new comb each harvest, so the honey is top notch. Bees build out comb from scratch using only a top-bar with a little strip of wax to start with. No wires, no foundation, no frame. New supers are inserted at the bottom of the hive rather than the top. The bees build downward and are free to move anywhere in the box they wish...even the queen. Each hive is left with a minimum of 12kgs of honey to winter over. You can read the rest for yourself using the link above.

Now, however, the heat's on because I have to build a set of hives up according to the Warre specifications! Better get busy.