November 23, 2015

Beekeeping Resources for Natural Beekeepers

Honeysuckle Hive
Welcome to all of you who have clicked on over from Farmer Liz's! For those who don't know what I'm talking about, I did an interview with Liz about Warré beekeeping on her Eight Acres blog. If you aren't familiar with Liz's blog, please visit and you will undoubtedly become a regular reader. Click here for my Warré post.

What you'll find here are links to more details on my own Warré experience, plus a list of resources for Warré, top bar, and natural beekeeping.

My Warré Blog Posts:

Warré Hives and Beekeeping

Horizontal Top Bar Hives

Plans to build Top Bar Hives

Books (All but the last link will take you to Amazon US, so you may need to do a search of your favorite regional online bookseller to find them closer to home.)

Websites Promoting Natural Beekeeping

Groups and Forums
  • warrebeekeeping at Yahoo Groups. Moderated by David Heaf. While this group focuses on Warré hives and methods, there are frequent technical discussions about bees and beekeeping in general. 
  • Natural Beekeeping Forum

Natural Beekeeping Treatments


If you have any questions I'll be happy to answer them if I can. If I can't, I'll try to point you in the direction of finding more information.


Farmer Barb said...

I am loving having bees on my property. Beekeeper P, who owns them, is so kind. He brought over some queen cells that he had collected from the hives he owns all over. I have video of my daughter holding the queen cell and having her emerge out into my daughter's hand. Not many 9 year olds get to do that. We are absolutely in love with bees!

PioneerPreppy said...

Bees are addictive to some of us!!!

My philosophy on survival bee keeping is different from yours so I will just leave it at that but I will point out one observation I have made over the years.

I have yet to see a feral hive of bees in a hollow space that was horizontal. At best I have seen a few that angled in a hollow limb but by far most are completely vertical and build whichever way (up or down) depending on the entrance placement. Typically when a hollow tree is horizontal it's fallen over and no longer prime feral hive space.

Leigh said...

They are wonderful creatures! So brave of your daughter to not be afraid! Maybe she'll become a bee whisperer. :)

Leigh said...

Good point, PP, and I think that's one reason why I always leaned toward the Warré hive. To me it does seem a naturally comfortable space for bees.

I suppose the closest thing feral bees come to horizontal is when they find their way under the eaves of someone's home and go from there.

Beth said...

Great resources. I have pinned this post so I can read up at my leisure. I really want to have bees one day! :)

Leigh said...

Beth, I hope these are useful. There's a lot of good information out there.

PioneerPreppy said...

I have removed a few hives from homes but all of them were in the walls between the studs and therefore vertical by necessity. There was one feral hive in an attic of a public housing building that went upwards at an angle but I declined to remove it due to insurance issues. The studs usually mean the bees build vertical too.

It may just be my location though as bee keeping seems to be mostly a regional thing as to what the bees like but I have never seen a horizontal hive naturally occurring.

DFW said...

Great information Leigh. Thanks for sharing!

Leigh said...

Again, that's an excellent observation. I suppose all systems make concessions for the beekeeper, and we choose what we think will best meets our needs.

It would be interesting as to the regional idea. I know when Liz asked me to do the guest post, she was specifically interested in Warré beehives, but also mentioned that she chose the Langstroth because that's what beekeepers in her area use, and they wanted resources for help if needed. That's a valid concern, which probably lends itself to regional systems.

Leigh said...

Deb are bees on your list of future goals?

PioneerPreppy said...

Well the deciding factor for me was ultimately how much work and resources the bees put into comb and building comb. This is more evidence of the regional aspect though too as comb production becomes much more of an issue the further North one goes. Bees seem to be so adaptable and willing to make whatever cavity they are given work as wasn't much interested in what others thought in my area as much as I was maximizing the bees resources and work. That meant harvesting the honey and returning as much comb back to them. That's not possible with top bar type hives.

Mark said...

Thanks, Leigh. There is a lot of good stuff here. Bees are still on my to-do list, and I'll be back rummaging through your archives when that day finally comes.

Leigh said...

I read that about the wax building versus honey production when I first started researching. Then I read the "other" side that claimed it wasn't true, LOL. Can't say I took anyone's word for it, but I was wanting wax anyway so it didn't really matter.

Leigh said...

Thanks Mark. It's nice to review my link collection from time to time. :)

Jembella Farm said...

A very informative post Leigh. I really enjoyed reading about Warre hives that I knew nothing about previously as we have the Langstroth hives on our farm here in South Australia. Great blog too, which I'll be spending much more time looking at. :) Sally from Jembella Farm.

Leigh said...

Sally, hello and welcome! I've just taken a quick look at your blog but am finding lots of good things there! Thank you so much for commenting. I look forward to getting to know you better.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Love the Honeysuckle Bee House! I would be afraid to have bees but just went around the corner a bit today and bought two quarts of local honey. So glad they sell it for chickens like me! Nancy

Leigh said...

It's a good situation for both you and the beekeeper!

Unknown said...

This reply had to be broke into two posts due to a 4096 character limit:

I want to build on Pioneer Preppy's comments:

The fact that the bees do not build just one sheet of comb down the side of a Warre hive proves that they will build horizontally as well. The queen prefers to not lay eggs in comb that has already hatched brood (dark comb). The darkness comes from the shell of the cocoon that sticks to the wax comb. So down and out it is until the hive space is full. The dark comb is reserved for honey storage unless the queen has no other place to lay eggs. If enough cocoon shells build up in a comb, the size of the developing bee is restricted and hive health suffers. Plus, the cocoon skins are a place for pestilence to gain a foothold in your hive.

The next observation is that below 43 deg F, a bee cannot independently revive itself from a torpid state and will soon die. They cannot move around independently much below 57 deg F. That means that the colony cannot move from comb to comb when the temperature of the hive gets below 57 deg F. At this point, they can only move up into their stores of honey to get enough energy to keep warm. They burn through about a millimeter of honey a day. A horizontal tree trunk or a Kenyan Top Bar Hive just isn't going to cut it over much of the United States. The bees know it and now all of you do too.

Horizontal hives do have their place though. The Kenyan Top Bar Hive was developed in a warm climate where Africanized Honeybees live. Why? Because you don't have to rummage through the brood to get to the good stuff. If you disturb the brood, all heck breaks loose and you end up running for your life if you can. What if you developed a horizontal hive with deep enough frames that a cluster of bees could overwinter on and used a follower board like is used in the Kenyan Top Bar Hive to restrict the hive size? Then you end up with a hive that is explained by Fedor Lazutin's book "Keeping Bees With a Smile" which by the way is not a new concept....(Continued)


Unknown said...

I cannot praise Fedor Lazutin's book enough. Just one word of caution though. He kept European Dark Bees which are not available here in the USA. They need a bigger hive than what our bees can handle. The hive he builds needs to be scaled down a bit. Think Layens hive. Kind of like the discussion between the Dadant-Langstroth vs Warre hives.

The strike against the Dadant-Langstroth hives besides their size is that the top bar is about an inch thick and the bottom bar of the frame above is about 1/4 to 3/8 Inch plus a bee space so there is at least a one and a half inch interruption in the winter stores vs maybe a half inch in the Warre. The bees can jump the gap easier in a Warre hive.

The strike against the Warre is that it was developed in a place where the necter flow is slow and steady over the summer. The bees have enough time to hatch and build down before the room is needed for storing honey. In the north you get a spring flow to build up on but from June 21st to mid July is when the main nectar flow is and you only get a few weeks to store up enough honey for the next 9 months plus come up with the rent money to the beekeeper for the use of his hive. The Warre will work for me if I nader it in the spring and then super it just before the main flow. Not ideal because I am still opening the hive. Hence I am thinking a horizontal hive like the Layens hive with a top bar cover cloth like the Warre is more ideal for my area.

Beekeeping is like gardening. You have to understand the climate you live in and learn to deal with it. Just because something works in one part of the world doesn't meant that it will work for your part of the world. I am grateful to Leigh for posting on the Warre hive last spring. I have been keeping bees for several years, but the results were very discouraging. I needed a nudge to start thinking about other beehive styles. I had built a Kenyan Top Bar Hive and quickly concluded that it was junk for my part of the world. I almost didn't buy Lazutin's book when I learned that he used a horizontal hive. I was intrigued to learn that he lived in a similar climate as I do so I bit. No regrets! Honeybee behavior is pretty much the same the world around and Lazutin explains it clearly enough that with his book and the resources Leigh gives here, you should be able to keep bees successfully where you live.


Leigh said...

Ron, thank you for joining in the conversation. I appreciate you experienced beekeepers, because even though I blog about it, I'm still very much a novice, just going into my first winter with honeybees. Your comment pretty much confirmed to me that for my part of the country, the Warré is a good choice for me.