The photograph above is of my home made bee hive. This is the ultimate beginner bee hive and the one I highly recommend you consider. Its benefits are that it is horizontal and not vertical so you don’t break your back lifting heavy boxes. The legs are cut to make the top of the hive at your own waist level. Now you can tend your bees without much bending and in a very comfortable relaxed state. This hive does not use bee frames. Instead of forcing bees to make comb cells the size we humans want, bees in the hive design I run build their entire comb themselves with their own wax (store bought wax has chemicals and pesticides treatment that stores in the wax fat, so your bees get medication even if you don’t want them to, or other potential diseases). Because the bees make all their own wax you get lots of honey like with traditional hives but you also get lots of wax. This is perfect for the homestead as you can make so many useful things from wax – from furniture and wood polishes, to candles, and so on! This hive is also perfect for beginners because you don’t have to buy thousands of dollars of honey extraction equipment. I bought a bread knife from a dollar shop and use that to harvest comb.
These hives are called Top Bar Hives because a single bar of wood lays on top of the hive. An embedded popsicle stick, or, as I do, a simple piece of jute string lain along the middle of the bar and glued by dripping hot wax melted with a cheap soldering iron from an electronics store, gives the bees a guide to build their comb along the bar. The jute string is less work than the popsicle stick and natural jute string means when the bees chew through it, it won’t harm the bees or contaminate your honey when harvesting like plastic string will.
I simply lift a bar at a time out of the hive and slice the top of the bar with the bread knife and let the entire honey comb fall into a bucket. I keep a cloth over the bucket after to keep bees out. When I have enough honey comb I go inside. Instead of the thousands of dollars in equipment. I take a fine sheer curtain material, here they sell it as Swiss Voile made from Polyester, or if I have none and have a new package of dish cloths I take a new clean one of those as it has fine holes in it. I put the comb in the cloth and then mash it up with a fork, spoon, wooden lemon juicer, or simply my hands (so long as I have a nice container of warm soapy water to clean my hands when finished). Then the mashed comb suspends in the cloth and I hang that inside a large jar. In a few days to a week the honey has gone through the cloth and into the jar with no pieces of wax or dirt or anything, just pure honey. Because I have not warmed or heated my honey it has all the delicate, sweet flavor and aroma that is destroyed when you harvest honey the traditional way or buy honey in the stores.
The only item you buy from traditional beekeeping companies is a bee suit, because when we first start out we have lots of unnecessary insecurities and it may take a few years of beekeeping until we calm down and realise it’s not so difficult. Long term beekeepers slowly evolve to working bees with no suit at all.
I would not recommend buying a bee smoker. Smoke makes bees stress out and think a fire is coming and gorge themselves on honey and fly around like crazy. If you switch to a garden sprayer filled with some sugar water syrup that is runny you will find when you spray bees they don’t buzz and go crazy, they get very quiet and stop what they are doing and start licking each other and the syrup like crazy.
It makes for a calm, happy, healthy hive and a calm happy beekeeper.
The plans and instructions to build the bee hive are kindly provided free of charge in the form of PDF documents you can view and print out on your computer. The web site hosting these files is www.biobees.com and they have a forum where you can ask plenty of questions and get helpful answers.
Bees are a perfect compliment to any suburban backyard, homestead, or farm. I would highly recommend anyone give it a go, especially with natural beekeeping methods as can be learned at the website and in those PDF document files.
Before transferring bees to the large Kenyan Top Bar Hive:
After transferring bees to the large Kenyan Top Bar Hive: