I set up my sustainable beekeeping Patreon in March so that I could continue to share my observations and experiences with other interested beekeepers as we learn so much more from sharing what we see and do. I normally run workshops, but with the current restrictions due to the Covid pandemic, that has not been possible, and in addition, I wanted to be able to promote what I do and support others wherever they are in the world, and Patreon has allowed me to do this.
Yesterday morning I had a message from Pen in Victoria, Australia, saying that her bees had swarmed and although they’d been hived, they had all come out and gone in the skep again, and did I have any suggestions? Following a few messages, a diagram (!) and a video call, we watched the bees file in to the Warré.
It was great to meet Pen and have a chat about bees and nature, and it’s lovely for me to be discussing prime swarms in October!
From 10 hours ahead, I went 8 hours back to speak to Alisdair, another patron who has log hives over in Washington in the States, and had a chat with him about his beekeeping. He has a YouTube channel: 18 Bees and is also on Patreon. I’m interested in log hives as I am endeavouring to replicate the conditions in a natural cavity within a hive body; he is providing the bees with an actual natural cavity. Do watch his videos as the behaviour we can observe (especially regarding propolising) can help us manage our bees more effectively. Propolis is not encouraged – it’s even criticised! – in conventional beekeeping even though it is a vital part of the bees’ immune system. Alisdair started beekeeping with log hives following disheartening experiences with Langstroths, and he is pursuing a more natural distribution of bee colonies by putting log hives up on land approximately 2 miles apart, with swarm catch boxes up around the existing colonies. The bees he hives are all swarms or from cut-outs, and they are allowed to grow, reproduce and die out naturally.
We discussed the difference between a hollow log and a hive from an insulation perspective, and the pros and cons of discussing treatment-free, observational beekeeping with others. I hope that as the issues around honey bee health and biodiversity become more pressing, that we can use the combined wisdom of all types of beekeeping to promote positive and beneficial management.
Thanks to Pen and Alisdair for letting me share their stories.