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Episode 28 Beekeeping (and My Limited Experiences)

In today’s show I wanted to do a brief primer on beekeeping and the history of bees and beekeeping.

I don’t go really in depth about any particular aspect.  I just wanted to get a show out detailing my experiences so far and what I’ve learned-which is very limited.

Bees have been around for a very long time and very unique in the insect world.  As far back as 13,000 BC, mankind was raiding beehives for honey.  As far back as ancient Egypt (and perhaps earlier, in China) mankind has been keeping bees.

Honeybees are native to Europe, Asia and Africa and are commonly known as Western Honey Bees.  There are three types.  The queen-one per hive, lays the eggs.  She is fed royal jelly during the larval stage for an extended amount of time.  Then there are the workers, all females and the only ones with stingers.  These are fed royal jelly for a limited amount of time as larvae.  Then there are the poor drones, the males.  No stingers, no jobs, just bums.  Sticking around the hive just long enough to eat the honey, mate with the queen and die!

There are also three main types of hives.  Top Bar-the traditional hive (unless you count rope skeps!).  The top bar is pretty sustainable but requires the comb to be cut out.  They are also hard to get established or so it seems.  The next is langstroth which is the commercial type.  It is expandable and management intensive but heavy.  It is the easiest to harvest.  Then there is the Warre which has the advantage of being easy to build and expand but its the hardest to harvest.

4 comments to Episode 28 Beekeeping (and My Limited Experiences)

  • Mil

    Hi Jason,
    I just listened to your bee podcast and enjoyed it very much. You mentioned that you have decided to go with the Top Bar hive this time and I wondered how you made that decision.

    I too wondered which type of hive to go with in the beginning, and in the end I decided to go with Langs as that was the recommendation of my teacher, Serge Labesque, a well-known beekeeper in these parts.

    I can see the advantages and disadvantages of both TBH and Langs, but what pushed you into the TBH camp? What I really wish for is a hive that combines the ease of use of the TBH with the expandability of the Langs.

    Best wishes,

    • Jason


      It was pretty much a laziness and access issue. At the time I was 5 hours away and I wasn’t going to have time to maintain it. I positted that the TBH was the way to go. I’m really rethinking that now with the absconcion! LOL

  • Mil

    Hi Jason,
    Sorry for the delay in replying, I just got back from Hawaii!! Well, we had a hive that swarmed at least 2 to 3 times a year before we got smart and started with checkerboarding and just plain giving them more room.

    I also do think that maybe the bees know they need to keep perpetuating the species and are swarming and absconding despite what we what them to do!

  • Jason


    Hawaii! Jealous!

    I guess you are right about the bees. I’m giving them one more chance after I set the new hive. After that I’ll just start growing sugar beets!


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