Friday, November 26, 2010

what's the buzz?

After seeing the Urban Conversion doing the giveaway of the awesome Top Bar beehive from bee landing (check out the contest on their main page here) , I could not stop thinking of how nice it would be to have one myself. Talking The Captain into spending the money not to mention my already saving plan for the much needed new Nikon D90, was not getting me anywhere closer to owning one.So, the hunt was on. I found FREE top bar beehive plans over here, compliments of the Barefoot beekeeper (Paul Chandler).
The plans were a little hard for my simplified "bee knowledge hive lingo mind", but after seeing pictures with his directions and putting pen to paper, I came up with the plans. And now my garage/wood shop is covered in saw dust and looking rather demolished. Take in mind I am going from having an 1100 sq ft basement workshop to a 1 car garage workshop.
What do I like about the top Bar beehives? Well, put simply. The more nature replicating structures. Like a hollowed out log, wild bees prefer. Yes, the honey production is not as it is for the box type. Not drastic but if your going for high production demands, the top bar is not for you. Plenty for personal use and small selling. But the beeswax is much more bountiful AND the bee's seem to prefer it. Stay happier & healthier. Not to mention I much more prefer the natural way of the interior workings:
Is that not a beautiful sight to see? The bee's make their own comb and are less inclined to build it attached to the walls of the hive due to the sloping of the frame. Unlike the box style, you only make the top bar of the comb sections. No dovetailing. No faux wax/plastic sheets. Just all natural free forming by the bee's.
The Barefoot Beekeeper has a book out to go along with his hive plans. For under $13 PLUS he gives you free plans to download without any purchase (unlike any other site I have found which charges anywhere around $5 and up just for plans). PLUS his website has a forum to help you with the adventure into Bee's & the top bar beehive. Free support. Free plans. And if making the first hive with pine as I am, you will spend less then $30 for all the materials.
Quoting from
"The Kenya top bar hive has been used extensively in development work because it is easy to build and its relatively low cost. Ordinary lumber will do nicely. This hive design is often practical for small-farmers in developing countries. In nature, bees attach comb to the ceiling and often to walls, but rarely to the floor. Taking advantage of this, the top bar hive has walls that slope inward towards the bottom. The bees behave as if the walls were a floor, and attach far less brace comb. This makes the comb easy to remove.
Extracting honey from a top bar hive is done by cutting the comb off the top-bar, leaving about 1/2 inch of comb so that the bees will be able to rebuild correctly."

I found the site of John ( ) to be less public interaction but not in a negative form. He shares his personal experience from being in the Peace Corps. and has some great experience to share of this Kenyan style hive. Less navigating and it's all John.
Between his site and the great Barefoot Beekeeper ( ), You are sure to know all sides, benefits, care & support you could possibly need for your steps into beekeeping.

And No. They are not paying me. Actually they have no clue I am writing this. I have been scouring the sites for over a month now and just want to get the word out before Bee buying season is here. In my opinion, I found these 2 sites to be much more helpful and easy to understand.Reaping richer knowledge then many others out there. With winter, you can build yourself a few hives and enjoy a perfect read of Paul Chandler's Barefoot Beekeeping top bar hives book and be ready for the big buzz in the yard.
I am building 2 of these hives. One for me & one for Mr. J, who has no idea he will soon be the proud owner of his own top bar hive and a copy of Paul's book. He and Mrs. J will wake the holiday morn to a new hive (bee less of course) sitting outside their window with a big red ribbon. (Waiting for Spring instead.) Compliments of The Unusual Farm Chick's....wee chicks. ( we get gifts from their dog and they get gifts from our kids. Its just the way we roll.)
I hope if your considering the keeping of bee's you check out the sites and links I have provided. More people should be as knowledgeable as possible before their first bee's but finding the most helpful information (not to mention accurate info with so many "opinions" floating around out there) makes it a bit frustrating.
These hives are budget friendly. Newbie friendly. Small backyard homesteader friendly and of course... experienced beginner in the wood shop friendly plans.
Sweet dreams,


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