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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Back Yard Bees

You know how some things are just easier to learn if you have someone who's experienced showing you the ropes?  This DVD is like that.  I have a couple of beekeeping books that just were not doing it for me.  Both are geared toward beekeeping with a variety of chemicals to keep the bees healthy, and are also geared toward keeping bees in a conventional Langstroth hive. Neither were serving my purposes, and I really had a lot of holes in my knowledge base about keeping bees in my TBH.  The Back Yard Hive DVD is like having someone show you what you need to know about keeping bees in a TBH so that you can be successful.  I learned so much from this thing that I now know what killed my bees.  At least I'm pretty sure I know.  I think what happened was that I had the hive in the wrong place.  I had it out in the sun, and I think what happened was that instead of being able to gather nectar, the bees were spending all their time trying to cool down the hive.  They didn't gather nectar, they didn't have anything to eat, so they exhausted themselves to death. It doesn't make my feel any better about it; in fact, it makes me feel a whole lot worse actually, but now I know better than to put them in the sun.  I also now know that bees work really hard to keep the hive at a constant temperature for the brood, and that you don't want to have too many bars out at once because otherwise you'll cool the hive off too much.  Something else of which I was guilty.

It turns out that keeping bees in a top bar hive is really different than in a Langstroth hive.  Really different.  Lots easier, actually.  The folks at BackYardHive suggest an observation window in your hive so that you can see what's going on without having to get into the hive.  They actually suggest staying out of the hive altogether for the first year, which is right up my alley.  Not sure I'd do that, though, now that I know what I'm looking for.  One of the things that I found most useful is how to tell if your hive's queen is dead.  They tell you what to look for and what you can do about it.  They tell you what to do for your bees in the autumn and how to over winter the bees.  And they tell you that the following spring is when you can finally harvest a comb of honey and how to choose which comb to harvest. There's also a section on how to capture a swarm, if you should be so lucky as to stumble on one.  By the way, Back Yard Hive has top bar hives for sale, among other things, and if you're concerned about not getting enough honey from a TBH compared to a Langstroth hive, you should look at their Golden Mean hive.  It works just like a regular TBH but its proportions are such that you'll get more honey from it.  As in, a single comb of honey from a Golden Mean TBH averages seven pounds. Seven pounds for one comb!

This DVD was way better than a book because a picture is worth a thousand words and you will just 'get it' if you watch it.  If you're considering keeping bees, I really recommend a top bar hive, and if you're going to go with a top bar hive, I really recommend this DVD. And if you're not and just want to watch something interesting and have twenty-five bucks to blow, this DVD fills that bill as well.  I'm really glad I bought it.

I bet this year's bees will be glad I did, too.


Hippo said...

Well, you've sold that DVD to me!

Thanks for the steer, I'll get my brother to buy it and send it out to Angola for me.

Miriam said...

Good for you for persevering - as usual, you're going about things in a thoughtful and intelligent way. It's only the folks who don't try something new, who never have setbacks. I'm looking forward to reading all about your first honey harvest!

Rae said...

Best of luck on this year's bees!!!

John said...

I've never even heard of a TBH! Can't wait to see how it works out. We won't be starting bees until next spring at the earliest, so you should be a master by then! Hope you don't mind us trouble-shooting off of you....