Tag Archives: warre

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

Checking the bees and hoping for honeyflows

1303 bee check - 1

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

Building bee resilience in the face of changing climate patterns


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

Honeybee Democracy & The Sacred Bee: two great bee books


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

Warré comb at the Spring hive check

Checking the Warré hives this week, Tim pulled off a box of empty Warré comb. The bees stored honey in this comb over winter, but now it’s spring they’ve eaten through these stores, leaving bare comb, sculpted according to the colony’s needs…

(psst – our spring Natural Beekeeping course is on at Milkwood Farm this weekend)

It’s the birthright of bees to build comb

Honeybees build comb. It’s part of what they do. It’s part of who they are. And being, as it is, actually exuded from glands on the undersides of their bodies, the honeycomb that bees build is literally part of them. Comb is literally part of the super organism that is a honeybee colony.

It’s a bit strange, therefore, that for the last 150 years in western beekeeping some have come to see the comb as separate to the bees – something you can replace with pre-made wax, or with plastic, even, without noticeable ill-effects for the colony. But within a wholistic approach to beekeeping, natural, bee-made comb is central. Here’s why. Continue reading

Moving the Warré beehives

Ever since we did our Warré apiary design, we’ve been waiting to move the hives to their new hive stands. But we needed to wait till the depth of winter to do it, when the bees have stopped flying and are safe and warm in their hives. So last Sunday was the day!

Together, Tim Malfroy and Nick carefully prepared and then moved moved both our current warré hives to their new hardwood stands… and this is how they did it: Continue reading

Designing the Warré Apiary at Milkwood Farm

Designing the Warré honeybee apiary at Milkwood Farm has taken some protracted thought and planning. As well as designing for bee health, we’re also designing for educational access and best-practice Warré beekeeping, on a slightly tricky site.

The site selected for the apiary is a good one for our climate – an E-N/E facing nook, protected from western sun and southern winds. The main challenge has been the slope, and the fact that the surrounding earthworks that protect the site also limit its access. Continue reading

The dark and the light: eating different honeycombs as part of natural beekeeping

Once you start natural beekeeping you’ll soon be introduced to eating brood honeycomb – comb that has had baby bees (brood) go through it, and now contains honey.

In many traditional cultures, this dark honeycomb is the most sought after – it is riddled with extra enzymes and traces of pollen from the brood rearing process, and tastes altogether different from virgin honeycomb – nutty, strong and complex… Continue reading

New press for crushing wild honeycomb

I am a little bit in love with our new honey press. It is made from stainless steel and it can crush close to a whole box of natural honeycomb in one fell squish. What better way to get all that goodness of the pollen, propolis and of course the honey into the jar? Continue reading


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