Category Archives: Natural Beekeeping

Urban Stingless Beehive: harvesting and splitting

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Australian native stingless bees are similar to european honeybees in many ways, but they’re also very different, too.

This week I was lucky enough to attend a harvest and a hive split of these amazing social insects, in a inner-city backyard in Sydney…  Continue reading

Natural Beekeeping Q&A next weekend in Sydney

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Being a beginner beekeeper involves asking an awful lot of questions. In a good way. You are, after all, taking on the stewardship of a super-organism composed of between 20 and 60,000 individual bees.

In light of the constant stream of questions that Tim Malfroy fields from students, Tim and I decided it was high time to get the Sydney-ish community of budding natural beekeepers together for a Q&A before Spring hits.

So! If you’re a budding beekeeper, please join us for our inaugural Natural Beekeeping Q&A happening next weekend at 107 Projects in Redfern, on Sunday 1st September.

3 hours of asking, thinking, listening and networking, as well as eating Tim’s Warré honeycomb on sourdough bread! Huzzah. I’m really looking forward to it. See you there?

Drawing the comb downwards (video)

This is a great little video from Gaia Bees, an American natural beekeeper doing some very interesting work in bee colony resilience and apicentric beekeeping.

The super interesting thing about this video is that it clearly shows how, in a ‘wild hive’, the colony starts at the highest point of the cavity, and draws their comb downwards. This is precisely what Emile Warré was trying to mimic with the way his ‘people’s hive’ worked, and with his approach to beekeeping…  Continue reading

Researching: solar-powered beeswax extractors

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Once you start natural beekeeping with Warré hives, you can look forward to your first honey harvest. Harvesting from a Warré hive means crushing frames of luscious honeycomb to remove the honey. That is, if you don’t eat all your harvest straight up as chunks of raw honeycomb, which is tempting.

But honey in a jar has its place, so likely you’ll decide to crush and strain some of it. And when you do, you will be left with a mush of sticky waxy stuff. Time to convert that into beautiful golden beeswax!  Continue reading

A peek inside a stingless beehive…

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‘Sugarbag bees’ are the common name for Australia’s native and social stingless bees, which home themselves in hollow logs and produce these amazing hexagonal spiral combs to rear their baby bees in.

These stingless bees can also be kept in boxes in your front yard in some parts of Australia; they pollinate many different flowers, are fascinating to watch and even sometimes produce enough honey for you to have a taste… Continue reading

Checking the bees and hoping for honeyflows

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The other day Tim Malfroy, our mate and esteemed Warré beekeeper, came over to talk bees and check the Milkwood hives. We had hoped to split our two Warré hives into four colonies this season, but it looks like we’re sitting on that idea now.

Why? Erratic flowering patterns – the eucalypts around here are still sitting on their hands, so to speak. Not a flower in sight. So while our bees have been working our market garden and all the wildflowers and weeds around here hard, they’re still doing it tough.  Continue reading

The Sun Hive: experimental Natural Beekeeping

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Sun Hives are a hive design coming out of Germany and now gathering interest in Britain. They’re part of the world-wide movement towards ‘apicentric’ beekeeping – beekeeping that prioritizes honeybees firstly as pollinators, with honey production being a secondary goal.

The Sun Hive is modeled in part on the traditional European skep hive, and is aimed at creating a hive that maximises colony health. The main thing I love about this hive and the enthusiasm surrounding it is not the hive itself, but the philosophy behind it, that of apicentric beekeeping. Continue reading

Building bee resilience in the face of changing climate patterns

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This Summer has been downright weird, weather-wise. Which has meant all sorts of things, for all sorts of things. Including for the bees of Milkwood Farm, and the bees of eastern Australia in general.

For the central west of NSW (Where Milkwood Farm is) it’s been a crazy dry Spring/Summer with short downpours, following on from three very wet summers. This means in turn that all the flowering patterns of many trees around us have gone somewhat skewiff, and the bees have had to adapt accordingly. Continue reading

The Bee People: free e-book

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The Bee People was written by Margaret Warner Morley in 1905 as a book for children about honeybees; their biology, their social habits, their work as pollinators, and their honey. I picked it up as a curiosity but you know what? It’s a pretty solid bee book for kids.  Continue reading

Honeybee Democracy & The Sacred Bee: two great bee books

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Bees deserve more study than they get, seems to me. No matter if you’re a budding beekeeper or just a responsible citizen, these ladies and their ongoing work are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat. They deserve both our joyful respect and a deeper understanding.

The two books above are top of Tim Malfroy’s list of essential bee texts, and this summer we’re reading them, and gleaning much goodness. Continue reading

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