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Apiary Lingo – Types of Beehives

Nowadays, beekeeping has become more common in many parts in the world. The benefits associated with beekeeping are countless, from health benefits, environmental and even financial benefits. Bees are efficient in all aspects of their lives – they have assigned tasks and jobs, they store all forage that they can benefit from, they create their own food from that forage, and they pollinate our plant life. They are responsible for most of the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all know and love. So, the next time you sit down for a meal, be sure to thank these small but busy insects. Beekeepers, both new and old, want to get the maximum profit from this practice. One of the ways to ensure success from beekeeping is to get the best hive for the bees. There are many types but they are categorized into two main categories, natural and man-made beehives. Natural hives occur naturally, example a hollowed out tree or concave rock may provide a good beehive. Man-made are mainly found in apiaries and backyard beehives.

Among the man-made hives, there are many types. Langstroth, Warre and top bar hive are the commonly used. Let us delve into the specifics of these hives.

  • Langstroth beehive

This type has been around the longest of today’s popular hive types – since 1852. The hive is easy to make since it is made of simple well crafted boxes stacked over each other. As the colony grows, the beekeeper can add more boxes. They have removable frames with wax foundation. The wax foundation is where the queen lays her eggs. Honey is extracted with the help of a special centrifuge. This type of hive allows more honey to be extracted and can easily grow when space is needed.

  • Warre beehive

Design in the 1900s, Warre, pronounced “wah-ray”, beehive was named after Abbe Emile Warre, a French beekeeper. The hive is similar to Langstroth hive, only that it has a slanted roof. The hives have bars at the top of the box where the bees build their comb. For insulation, the roof is fitted with a quilt. During inspection, the beekeeper has difficulties reaching the interior bars on this hive. In spite of this small disadvantage, the beehive requires less maintenance.

  • Top bar hive

For this type, they are horizontal in nature and they sit above the ground on wooden legs. Just like in the Warre hive, there are bar where bees can build their hives. The top bar hive is easy to maintain and it is light for easier relocation. This type also ensure that the bees are safe from honey predators

With their details outlined above, a beekeeper can choose the best and most suitable type of beehive to use for their home and garden. The Langstroth beehive is the most commonly used for both commercial and hobbyist beekeepers. That’s what we use at our bee yard, but I think we’ll play around with the others at some point so we can learn more about the trade and art of beekeeping.

Honeybees – About Honey

Honeybees fly around, collect pollen and nectar and are somehow able to change all their foraging into a golden sap that is commonly known as the “food of the gods”.

The conversion of nectar into honey involves both physical chemical changes. Beginning with a physical change, the nectar’s water content is reduced. Then, the two chemical changes are brought about by the addition of enzymes from the honeybee.

These steps help to reduce the storage space required and to make the honey into a compound with a long shelf life. The process of water reduction turns honey into one of the “driest” substances that is still a liquid. In fact, honey has a moisture content lower than lumber. All of this water reduction does more than just save storage space, it also increases the osmotic pressure of the honey. Osmosis refers to the movement or flow of materials through a membrane such as a cell wall in our bodies. Bacteria can’t live in this dry environment – once they’re introduced to honey, the fluid in the bacteria is wicked out by the honey and the bacteria becomes dehydrated and dies.  The high osmotic pressure in honey is one of the reasons it is protected from microbial attack and has such a long life. It is also one of the reasons that honey has been used for thousands of years as a wound dressing. The honey keeps the wound moist, kills most infectious organisms present, and protects against attack by microbes.

Texas Bee Removal

The Texas Apiary Inspection Service would like to get out of the “removal world” and I can’t blame them. In our area, we’re lucky to have a list of wonderful professionals to work with, however, we’ve heard horror stories from larger cities of scams and a serious level of unprofessionalism.

Here’s the Disclaimer straight from TAIS:

Bee Removal Disclaimer

The beekeepers listed below have registered with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service as required by Texas Agriculture Code, Section 131.045, and have obtained a permit that allows the beekeeper to transport bees between counties as required by Texas Agriculture Code, Section 131.043.  Beekeepers registered with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service are excluded from complying with the Texas Structural Pest Control Act pursuant to Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1951, Structural Pest Control, Section 1951.056.  (See: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/OC/htm/OC.1951.htm)

The following list is provided as a public service and is not an endorsement of any of the beekeepers listed therein. The Texas Apiary Inspection Service DOES NOT license or issue permits to remove honey bees.  Furthermore, the Texas Apiary Inspection Service does not have any information regarding a beekeeper’s qualifications or training to remove honey bees.  The Texas Apiary Inspection Service only maintains a list of registered beekeepers and issues permits authorizing the transport of honey bees between counties when an application is submitted in accordance with Sec. 131.043(b), Tex. Ag. Code.  The issuance of a permit authorizing the transport of honey bees does not indicate that a beekeeper is qualified to remove honey bees for pest control purposes.

There are 254 counties in Texas – we network with bee removal professionals throughout the state so we can help if you have trouble locating the right professional for you.

We have a blog dedicated to helping you ask the right questions – basically, make sure the guy or gal knows what they’re doing.

We personally service Brazos County, Burleson County, Bastrop County, Blanco County, Falls County, Robertson County, Leon County, Milam County, Grimes County, Harris County, Hays County, Madison County, McLennon County, Montgomery County, Washington County, Travis County for bee removal – so give us a call at 979-492-4114.

Texas Summer Clinic – 2016

We got back from the Texas Beekeeper’s Association Summer Clinic in Conroe, Texas today and it was a wealth of information from experts and hobbyist from all over the state.

There was a large emphasis on natural beekeeping this year and we listened to varying opinions on natural pest treatments, feeding tips, and how to keep your bees alive. We were lucky enough to hear the author of “Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture”, Ross Conrad, and learn a little bit about his hive management style. Although things are quite different here in Texas – he lives in the North East with harsh winters – some of the methodology and practices he uses are certainly beneficial for battling mites, small hive beetles, and other honeybee pests. I would highly recommend reading his book – it has a lot of good information for apiary management and backyard beekeepers.

We split up and tried to soak up as much information as we could, writing down reference book names, honey collectors, master beekeeper’s contact information, and everything in between.

Here’s a copy of the schedule along with the classes we attended.

We learned about all kinds of natural techniques for keeping bees and will continue to write articles to help share the knowledge that was learned at this event. Another event will be coming to the Bryan/College Station area this Fall – we’ll be there and hope to see you too!

2016-TBA-Summer-Clinic-Schedule-1.jpg

Overall, we met a bunch of new beekeepers, experienced beekeepers, and a took a lot of notes – we’ll be trying out some of the things we learned about natural beekeeping on our hives soon!

Rotating Comb

After listening to Lance Wilson, Master Beekeeper, at the Texas Summer Clinic, we’ll be using this practice in our bee yard. Removing old comb forces the bees to create new wax comb and although this may slow honey production by diverting bees to a new job – it also allows fresh, sterile comb to be built.

Signs it may be time to rotate your wax include –

  1. Darker or black wax – wax acts like a sponge and absorbs what the bees can’t. This includes unwanted materials including pesticides according to the Penn State study done in 2010 on pesticide’s effect on bee colonies.
  2. Shotgun pattern in the brood cells – although this can be a symptom of other hive diseases, it warrants a good look at the comb as well. The queen may decide not to lay in the cells for reasons we’re not able to detect. Perhaps she senses the pesticides? Or maybe she’s just sick of laying in that cell and it’s time to replace it. Either way, mother knows best.
  3. Annual maintenance – good hygienic practices may include getting the comb out every 5 years or so (preferably a little at a time each year so the hive isn’t stressed) So, if it’s been awhile it can’t hurt. We plan to watch the comb and brood cycles and change out comb every 5-10 years as needed.

With a goal of causing as little stress to the hive as possible, it’s a good idea to slowly rotate out the old frames slowly and to stay on the edges of the hive for minimal negative impact. Doing this switcharoo during winter may be the best option – wait until the food stores have been eaten and the resources are empty.