Originally Posted by Leahs Mom
My thoughts exactly.
I haven't seen bees in at least 4 years that we've been here. When I was a kid they'd be everywhere. (I'm at my childhood home right now.)
One neighbor put up a couple of hives last year and I only saw his bees once all season. Not on the pasture that I left for them full of clover, dandelion, etc....never saw one there. Only time I saw them was when they came over to drink the chicken's water pans. I actually floated sticks in the pans so they could drink without drowning.
I think they were busy eating the sugar, syrup, patties, etc. that he was feeding. Very unfortunate.
Amen! It's standard thinking and practice to feed bees all the time and I feel it's just poor management....if you have to feed bees a lot you either have taken too much honey or are nursing along a hive that's too weak to survive on its own. Either way, I'd rather have a hive die out altogether than be so weak it needs unnatural nourishment.
Originally Posted by Leahs Mom
So here's what I'm going to do this spring.....
Going to populate a top bar hive (Golden Mean...one I purchased for a great price...almost fee) with a package. I'm already aware of all the problems with package bees so I don't have a lot of expectations but will do my job and hope for the best.
Then.... I'm pretty excited about this....
I found a guy that has the best, treatment-free bees in our area that I'm going to get a split from to populate a horizontal Langstroth hive. The nuc he does will be some of the best bees in our area. He doesn't feed sugar/syrup, etc., leaves honey for his hives to over-winter, etc. I started purchasing his honey a few months ago and the first time I tasted it I realized that I had probably never had real honey before (from bees not fed junk food and not had any chemical input in the hives).
Anyhow, husband if going to build the long langstroth hive from the plans here with a few variations http://horizontalhive.com/how-to-build/long-langstroth-plans.shtml
If anyone is interested in learning about horizontal hives, I'd highly recommend his book. It was the best education and understanding I've gotten so far on the subject. (And I've read a LOT.) After I read it I felt like I understood the management of horizontal better than ever. Very practical reading, though I'm not going to do double deep frames. I like the idea of the long Lang rather than the top bar because I can use standard frames. My intention is to use them with no foundation (like the top bar) but it will be easier to handle/work with and will be able to use standard sized equipment purchase nucs, etc.
That is a wonderful thing that you've found a bee guy that doesn't treat his hives or feed artificial feed...those are rare but getting more prevalent. Ten years ago the only guy not treating hives seemed to be Mike Bush and he was the only one who would even talk to me about that and also about TBHs. I think he still feeds his bees at times, though.
And you are right about the honey...we had bees when I was young and we first homesteaded and it tasted better than anything I've tasted since then. We didn't know what we were doing back then and it was probably a good thing.
I like the long body hives as well....for an old lady, they represent the least amount of heavy work for me.... and am building this one as a long body Lang/Top Bar hybrid with foundation-less Lang medium wedged frames in the honey side that have the bottom of the frame removed, but the sides left in place~and~a 2 3/8 " wide top bar setup for the brood side, without groove or wedge, but with the bottom of the bars left rough like they do in the Warre hives.
I'm also going to use burlap instead of a top board and use ventilation a lot like the Warre hives too, but this will mostly be a long body Lang/TBH.
However, I don't intend to do much "management" of the hive....I'll likely check it now and again out of curiosity, but I don't intend to interfere in it at all other than to remove a little honey if needed and replace with empty frames if they've run out of room. That's not likely to happen in the first year anyway, so it's pretty much hands off and let them live or die on their own to keep that wild vigor intact. If I can't have self sustaining bees, I don't want any at all....if they can't survive without a lot of supplementation they aren't going to survive out here anyway.