Wednesday 15 July 2009

Madame Guillotine - Calling all builders and bodgers

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the end of season is already on its way. I've still not heard the first Christmas songs in the supermarket but it is time we started planning for winter.

We will cover preparations for autumn at the next meeting. For those with Warré hives this may mean some lifting. Though if the summer continues fine and the bees carry on building so well then some of us may have to lift their hives before this to add further boxes.

I was originally planning to build a hive lift for use among the group. A lift makes it easier for one person to add boxes and it's more gentle on the bees. Remember, once filled with honey and stores those light boxes change reather dramatically! However, I have come to realise that there are others better skilled than me in the building department so thought it prudent to issue a challenge to the group to see if anyone else is up for the task.

this link to see what's involved, unless of course you wish to design your own alternative so how about it - does anyone fancy a small project?

Don't worry if building is not your bag. In fact at last Saturdays meeting Peter suggested a simple alternative manual lifting cradle that can easily be used which requires 4 people, 2 to lift, one to steady plus one to move boxes. As he rightly points out the beauty of having a group like YABeeP is that we can all muck in and help each other - this way we get to see each others hives.

If you fancy the challenge, and with it the admiration of the group, let please me know.

Finally, just an early reminder that the next meeting is Saturday 15th August if you wish to come along - venue yet to be agreed so if you fancy a go at hosting please let me know. Also many thanks to Janice & Andrew for holding last Saturday's meeting and to Simon for the biscuits.


UPDATE: added March 2012
Since writing this page we never actually made a guillotine - there turned out to be no need. Indeed, I've yet to find someone who uses them.

In theory a Warré is opened twice a year - in Spring to add empty boxes beneath and at end of summer/autumn to harvest and reduce the hive for wintering. In fact it is only truly opened, that is the top taken off, in the autumn.

In spring the hives are empty of stores and consequently fairly light so one person lifts top 2 boxes, which retains the hive atmosphere1 as heat and scent rises, while another slips empty boxes beneath. In the autumn the top box is removed for harvesting so you've already released the 
nestduftwärmebindung. It therefore makes sense to split the lower boxes as required to shrink the hive as required, after all it's just a once a year interference and you'll be doing it on a warm to hot day.

If it's required to open the hive a third time, for example due to suspicion of infection or to deal with some other problem, then you just split the boxes which you'll need to do anyway for a full inspection.

Compare that to the weekly inspections of a National or the number of times you have to open a horizontal hive to straighten the comb. No wonder bees seem healthier in a Warré!


March 2012

1 The principle of 
nestduftwärmebindung is key to the success of the Warré hive. Click here to download Johann Thür's 'Beekeeping: natural, simple and successful' translated by Dr. David Heaf which outlines this principle.