Sunday, January 25, 2015

This, too, shall pass

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” ― Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind"

It's hard to believe that spring is just around the corner, but it really is. Early last week, as I was driving along, I spotted this:

Sorry, I would've taken a close-up, but I didn't want the owners of the house thinking I was some kind of criminal casing the joint. Although you can't really tell in this photo, the tree has some teeny weeny catkins!

My excitement over a sign of impending spring was short-lived, though, since we were pelted with snow yesterday. My girls don't really seem to care, though. I took a peek at Austeja through the observation window, and she seems just fine. While the other colonies were content to huddle up indoors, Bubblegum was making cleansing flights today in 36 degree F weather. Actually, she seems to be the most active during cold weather. I wonder why. Maybe she gets more sun than the others.

Lots of bees running around on snow. They didn't appear to be eating it.
What were they doing?


Another winter storm/blizzard warning is in effect for tomorrow (blech), but I keep telling myself that spring really is just around the corner. I found this countdown clock to remind me that we're almost there. (What are those flowers? Quince?)

As soon as it warms up a little (which should start happening in about 5 or 6 weeks), it's going to be time to start repairing hives and building new ones. I can hardly wait!

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Winter List

Recently, I wrote that I'd been reading a lot, so I thought I'd show you my winter list:

Natural Beekeeping with the Warre Hive, David Heaf

Toward Saving the Honeybee, Gunther Hauk

The Compleat Meadmaker, Ken Schramm

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture,
Toby Hemenway

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Resources for the New TBH Beek

Lately, I've been reading a lot and watching YouTube vids because that's what beeks do over the winter. When they can't play with bees, they spend their days dreaming and thinking about them. That's when it occurred to me that new TBH beeks might like a list of books/resources to get started.

Here are some resources that I found very helpful when I got started:


  • Treatment-free guru Michael Bush's website is a treasure trove of info. Actually, he also has a book entitled Practical Beekeeping: Beekeeping Naturally, but I confess that I haven't read it because he says all the info is on his site anyway.
  • Biobees forum. This forum is maintained by Phil Chandler, and it's a great place for natural TBH/Warre beeks to gather. 
  • BeeSource TBH Forum. The feature I really like about this site is that you can subscribe to forums, so any posts/updates can be emailed to you. When I was starting out, I'd read this forum religiously every day and learned so much.
  • Out of a Blue Sky has a terrific YouTube channel. Watching his demonstrations really helped me visualize how to manage and work a TBH.
  • GoldStar Honeybees also has a great YouTube channel. Highly recommend watching the How-To videos that are posted there.
  • Wyatt Mangum has a YouTube channel as well. To be candid, I admit that I've only watched a couple of these. The ones I've seen have been a little difficult to hear, but they were very informative.
  • Also, I would recommend looking for talks by Sam Comfort, Michael Bush, and Michael Palmer. The Michaels use Langs, but a lot of the info is good and can be used with TBHs.
  • Obviously, if you have a local beekeeping club, that would be a great way to connect with other beeks. One caveat is that many clubs are all about prophylactic treatment and may be skeptical of TBHs. Don't let them get you down!
  • Facebook, if you're on it, has several excellent groups that I'd recommend: Top Bar BeehivesTreatment-Free BeekeepersTop Bar Beekeeping, Organic Top Bar Beekeeping, and state specific groups for TBHs (I know Christy H. has started groups for each state.)

I really like following other people who have top-bar hives. Their blogs don't necessarily provide start-up info, but I learn a lot vicariously about the kinds of challenges other people face and how to deal with them. I follow about 30 beekeeping blogs, so I won't list them all. However, these are just a few that are TBH/treatment-free/natural-beekeeping specific. (Note: this list is somewhat edited since I tried not to list ones that don't post fairly regularly. Also, they are not in any particular order -- just the order they show up in my blog reader.)