Some very exciting news to share from the Farm. This past week got one step closer to our highly anticipated Honey Bee homecoming. It was really hard not to say homecombing, haha. We visited with a wonderful Bee Supplier out of Holland and chatted them up for bit.
We have wanted to do Bee’s going on 4 or 5 years now. When we were looking at coming home from NC, LMB’s Dad, and I have been talking about Bee’s, its really exciting to be only a few weeks out to hopefully this long term hobby. The moment we purchased The White Cottage Farm, we new Bee’s were right around the corner. Over the past years, we have been passively researching how we do this dream we have built up. If you are at all interested here are a few things we have picked up already, and we hope we can provide more tips and guidance as we learn to.
It appears that there are a few different types of honey bee hives, used by hobbiest out there to keep their bees. Each hive type favors a particular aspect of beekeeping. The hives that we entertained here at the farm, varied from Top Bar, Langstroth, and Flow Hive. Here are a few key points from what we have gathered:
Top Bar Hive – This hive sets the frames side by side, horizontally. This style looks to require the least amount of physical handling, as most we have found come with a hinged roof, or single point of entry. Opening the roof, provides access to all of the frames within your hive. In realms of return from your bee’s, those more interested in pollination, look to benefit more than those interested heavy honey production.
Langstroth Hive – This is probably the most recognizable hive, as it seems to be the most popular. This is the traditional style of stacked hives, one on top of another. Compared to the top bar, this requires the most physical handling, as the beekeeper will need to unstack sections (honey supers), in order to inspect and extract items from the hive. This seems to promote honey production more than that of the top bar style.
The Flow Hive – This is somewhat of “newer” technology. This hive embodies the Longstroth style of structure, however it uses prefabricated frame. These prefabricated are built like that of a honeycomb, however keyed into place, allows for the beekeeper to turn a key from the outside of the hive, to unlock these combs, allowing for gravity to due extraction through a port that can be caught in a jar instantly. This promotes that same aspects of the Langstroth, without ever really needing to disturb the bee’s. Furthermore, its theorized that without needing to disrupt the bee’s the less stress they endure and the more quality and heavier production.
Now there are others out there, customized Bee Houses, and mixtures of top bar and langstroth. We decided to start our first year off as normal as possible, with the primary focus of honey production first, this is what lead us to pick the Langstroth Hive type. We decided not to look at the flow hive due to a few reviews and forum responses to their time with Flow Hives. Also, not knowing how good of a beekeeper I will be, the overall cost for the flow hive is significantly more than that of the Langstroth. Also, we wanted to enjoy the aspect of getting in with the bee’s and seeing them do their work and witness first hand the entire process. One the forefront to White Cottage Farm are rows and rows of flower beds, however we don’t have them yet, so a top bar hive will be a future style hive for us.
So there are also two major ways of acquiring bee’s if you don’t already have a hive in your backyard. Packages and Nuc’s. It is really tough to describe the difference in creation between the two as they are both split from hives. LMB in fact just asked me and here is the best example I could give based on what I read. You getting a group of kids that can play basesball, versus getting a team of kids that have practiced together.
The Package of Bee’s are your “from scratch” style of acquiring bee’s. You get them much sooner, and they come from a successful hive from last year. These are generally adult bee’s, with a chosen queen. They cost less, and again you can get them much sooner in the season.
The Nuc or Nuc Box, are the also split from a successful hive, however they are given time to establish. You will get nucs a few weeks later in the season, however you are allowing for the main hive to find its feet, set their roles and responsibilities, and essentially go into practice prior to getting them. This form does cost a bit more the packages, however the success rate and production rate seems to favor Nuc’s over Packages slightly so that is why we choose the nuc box style, and we bought 3 Nucs from a local beekeeper veteran.
Now for our toughest decision to make here at the Farm. Where in the heck are we going to put these hives. We have come down to two locations. Our middle pasture or the orchard. The middle pasture right now is nothing much but soon to host our flower garden and vegetables. Our orchards is right off the side of the red barn and milk house, and its short, no muck boot needed walk away. From meeting a few industry veterans we noticed you don’t have to be too-too weary so being on the other side of the grapevine they wouldn’t be bother and we wouldn’t be bothered. The middle pasture is great place too, it buts up again a large hay field, and is away from foot traffic. However if any pesky critters want to pay our hives a visit we wouldn’t know otherwise. The orchard you can see from the kicthen. We will be looking closer into this and hopefully come to decision before our bee’s arrive.
So after our Holland visit we walked out with three Langstroth hives, two suits, a pair of hive tools and an overwhelming amount of excitement. We hope you all are just as excited for some learning and growth with our journey as newbie beekeepers.