The Apiary: A Bustling Beehive
The Apiary: A Bustling Beehive Image
The Apiary

Honeybees are a great way to begin homesteading because they are so interesting to watch, produce lots of sweet, nutritious honey and beeswax and greatly enhance any home gardeners production. Besides this they are endangered and by becoming a backyard beekeeper we are pitching in to help the health of our planet and her eco-systems.

Honeybees are an integral part of our food system, their pollinating finesse will bring any home orchard to life, greatly increasing the amount of fruit and crops produced each season. They are extremely nutritious and provide us with a varied source of vitamins and minerals especially the raw honeycomb, which can be obtained from the hives at various times throughout the year.

Our apiary is in our home fruit orchard. The bees are always there to provide us with entertainment and each season provides a new show as the bees bring in pollen, clean out their home, defend their hive against intruders or throw out the drones; there is always some type of interesting activity happening at the hive and the bees continually put on a show all their own.

Illustration: Watercolor Apiary Setting up the hive:

Hive choices – We use a combination of Langstroth and Top-Bar Hives.
  • The Langstroth Hive - The workability of the Langstroth makes it a good choice for the beginning beekeeper.
    • The most common hive found in America today.
    • Rectangular in shape with squared frames, this is an easy structure to manage, observe and extract honey from.
    • It can be made with beginning woodworking skills or obtained inexpensively on the internet.
  • The Top-Bar Hive - Frames look completely different in the top-bar hive, I’ve noticed the bees generally prefer to build thicker comb with small deep cells and create sweeping U shape at the bottom of each frame.
    • Increasing in popularity with organic beekeepers for several reasons; the bees seem to readily adapt to this hive, building out their hivebody quickly. The comb is absolutely beautiful and the hive can include an observation window to follow the bee’s progress without disturbing them.
    • The top-bar hive allows bees more control over their home. Rather than getting precast plastic or pressed wax and a wire frame, with the top-bar, the bee builds as they see fit. They define their comb size, width and cell size and even the overall shape of each frame.
    • It is the hope of many bar-hive enthusiasts that by giving bees back the ability to control their environment they might become stronger and better able to fight off the honeybee diseases so prevalent around the world today.



Honey Bee Resources - Educate Yourself!

Books:

Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture
Ross Conrad, Chelsea Green Publishing 1997 reprint [ISBN-10: 1933392088]

Bees, with an afterword on the Art of Joseph Beuys
Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophic Press 1998 [ISBN-10: 0880104570]

Honey Plants of North America
John H. Lovell, A. I. Root Company, 1926 [ISBN-10: 0936028203]

A Spring without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply
Michael Schacker, forward by Bill McKibben, The Lyons Press 2008 [ISBN-10: 1599216000]

Organizations:

Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary - www.spikenardfarm.org

The Pfeiffer Center, Spring Valley, NY - www.pfeiffercenter.org
Honeybee classes and biodynamic farming courses.

Sources for Beekeeping Supplies:

Betterbee - www.betterbee.com

Brushy Mountain Bee Supply - www.brushymountainbeefarm.com





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