Hapkido Online

Monday, July 2, 2012

Beehive Q and A

Hi Jon,

Just read your blog and wonder if I could ask a question.  I’m new, and started two hives this spring.  Stand+one 10 frame super+plus shallow box with tray type feeder in it + lid.  I went to add another super but the a number of frames were stuck to the bottom of the tray feeder in the top shallow box.  I put it back.  What is the best way to separate all of this and minimize disruption and/or damage to the hive?  Thanks.



Great question Paul,

I have been in this situation myself a time or two.  Don’t sweat it.  The easiest thing to do is to head down to your local hardware store and buy some wire.  Piano wire is the best but any strong thin wire will do, I've even seen folks use monofilament.  You will also need a couple of dowels to use as handles.  Attach the wire to the handles.  When you are done you simply pull the wire slowly between the boxes that are stuck together.  It works best if you start at one corner and then cut diagonally across to another corner.  You will want to move slowly so any bees in the wires path have time to move out of the way.  You might get a worker or two.  Be careful because you could cut the queen in half. I haven't ever had this problem but it's only fair to warn you it can happen.

After the wire passes through the boxes should come right apart.  Then you can clean any propolis and wax with your hive tool.  Some people put light coating of boiled linseed oil on the tops of the bars before they put them in the hive.  I am not sure I would do this on existing bars.  I've also heard that petroleum jelly is effective.  To be honest I have not tried either one.  Once you get the piano wire you will find it's not a big deal.

Best of luck to you in your beekeeping endeavors, thanks for writing.

Very Respectfully,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to get bees for a Warré Hive

So you have a nice new Warré Hive and no bees, what to do?  Well the commercial option is to install a bee package.  I do not like packages because I think it's hard on the bees and they seem to have a very low success rate.

A very good option is to capture a swarm.  I caught one this year and it was easy and fun.  If the swarm lands within reach they can be a very good source of bees.  It has several advantages over buying a package.  First of all with a swarm you get a lot more bees than a package.  All of these bees are from the same hive unlike a package.  All of the swarm bees will be keyed in on the queen already so no wait there.  The swarm bees will be from your local area which means they are already acclimatized to your region.  Most packages come from thousands of miles away.  The bees show up tired, thirsty, and confused.  Swarm bees are full of honey and ready to build a new home.

Nucs are a great option for Langstroth hives but are difficult to prepare for a Warré Hive.  The frames in the Nuc are not compatible with the Warré dimensions. 

I recently did a cut out for a neighbor.  I was able to not only capture the bees but I was also able to keep five of their brood combs and hang them from the top bars of my Warré Hive.  This is probably the best possible scenario for the bees.  They get everything they need to really set up shop rapidly in a Warré Hive.  The drawback to cutout's are they are quite involved and would be overwhelming for a beginner.  I was fortunate to be a part of a three man team and we borrowed a bee vacuum.  Luckily neither of the other guys wanted the bees so I managed to put them all in my Warré.

The new bees are rapidly building comb and seem to like their new home.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What can you do about Pesticide?


Corn Planting Drift is Killing Honey Bees. You Can Help. Here's How.

The number of beekills this spring due to poisoning by pesticides has skyrocketed. In Ohio just this spring we have seen more beekills than I can remember total in the past 25 years combined. Reports from many, many states have been coming into this office in the past couple of weeks. At first they seemed isolated and unsupported. Beekeepers are wary of reporting incidents, and seldom sure of how to proceed or what to do.

The incidents this spring are not the symptoms reported commonly as Colony Collapse Disorder, where bees disappear and a beekeeper returns to what had been a strong healthy hive only weeks before and what's left is simply lots of brood, a handful of young bees and a queen...if anybody is home at all.

No, the incidents this spring are different...they harken back to the days of massive beekills, when plants in bloom were sprayed on a routine basis, when beekeepers would find entire apiaries wiped out, with pounds and pounds of dead bees, twisting, writhing and dying in front of their hives. Piles of dead, stinking bees were common then, but with the advent of more restrictive regulations and safer-to-use pesticides, much, but not all, of that death-by-pesticide era has gone away.

Until now. This spring the ugly past has returned. We were warned though. Purdue researchers saw this problem last year and brought it to everybody's attention.

Then they looked deeper and further and saw that it wasn't just a flook, an accident, an anomaly, but rather it has turned into an epidemic. And they brought that to our attention too.

Simply, pesticides, those troublesome neonicotinoids, are applied to corn seeds before they are planted so when the corn begins to grow the pesticide on the seed is absorbed by the new roots and fills the plant with poison for the rest of its life. But the stuff is sticky and doesn't come out of the planters very well so farmers supply a slippery additive in the form of talcum powder to make those seeds, in airblast seed planters, simply fly right out of the drop chute and into the ground. But there's the rub. That airblast planter is blowing all that talcum powder and loose pesticide dust everywhere...up into the air to travel where ever something as light weight as talcum powder can travel...feet and yards and yards certainly, maybe miles...nobody knows.

But birds are dying. Robins and crows. And one observer says that wildlife eating the seeds are dying...three seeds will kill a quail is what I'm hearing, but I don't know for sure. I wouldn't be surprised. But for beekeepers, what's happening is that this poisonous dust is landing on everything downwind...dandelions, flowers, water surfaces, everywhere a honey bee can go, that's where this stuff is landing.

How much of it is going airborne? I don't have a clue, but every seed is coated with it, and you know how big corn seeds are and there are about 30,000 seeds planted in an acre...and there are, this year, 96,000,000 acres of corn planted in the U. S. And what I read is, is that almost all of those seeds are coated with something that protects the plants. Know how big 96,000,000 acres is....?

It's all of North Dakota and South Dakota, combined. All of that.

But of course all those acres are spread out all over the place. There are few places in this country that are not within drift distance from these airborne poisons. Very, very few. For instance...North Dakota plans on 3.4 million acres of corn this year...that's 5% of the entire state. And recall, North Dakota is the biggest honey producer in the U. S. I'm thinking there's no place to hide in that large, very flat state.

If you experience a beekill in your apiary this spring DO NOT simply shrug your shoulders and feel there's nothing to be done. There is something to be done.

First, take pictures...with today's newspaper showing so you have a date. Get a witness in the photo so you have someone else to verify your incident. Video a person collecting samples and filling to half a plastic bag and sealing the bag.

Freeze the sample as soon as possible. Call you state apiary inspector and report the incident. If your state has a pesticide incident reporting system in place, report it there, too. And tell the feds. There's two places to go. First, do a direct to EPA email. They have a system in place to document these when reported. The email is

beekill@EPA.gov <blockedmailto:beekill@EPA.gov>

Tell them what, where and when you found the incident, attach a couple of photos of the scene, record the number of hives affected, the date the incident occurred and any other pertinent data you can include. Tell them you have taken samples, and that you have reported it to your state authorities. And tell them you want something done!

When you finish that, go to this web site

http://npic.orst.edu/reportprob.html#env <blockedhttp://npic.orst.edu/reportprob.html#env>

the National Pesticide Information Center's page to report a pesticide incident.

And do it again.

And then, one more thing.

Send this information to your local beekeeping group, and to your state beekeeping association and tell them to put it on their web page, to send out emails, to put it in newsletters, to get every beekeeper in this country up to speed on what is killing our honey bees (heck, send it to every beekeeper you know and tell them to do the same thing. Let EVERY BEEKEEPER EVERYWHERE KNOW!).

This is something YOU CAN DO, whether you never, ever have a problem or not.

Help protect honey bees, and beekeepers from this, and any other Pesticide Incident.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another Warré Hive nearly finished:

I still need to finish the roof and quilt.  Many top bars are done.  I am going with the cove molding approach.  I am also going to seed some of the bars with some old honeycomb.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beekeeping with Dad

My Dad retired recently and has always had an interest in carpentry.  A couple of weeks ago he was visiting and was present while I hived a swarm in some extra boxes I had.  I told him all I needed was a top and a base.  We hastily made a temporary top out of a sheet of cardboard and used an old feeder with a prop to make a gap as a temporary base.

When I got home the next day I was happy to see he had bought some lumber and had my tools out and announced he was ready to make a top and a base.  He is a much better carpenter than me and we made the parts quickly and they looked quite professional.

He put on my spare bee suit and we went out and put the new top and base on.  It looked great. 

My landlord announced recently that they didn't want my hive in the yard despite the fact that the house is in the middle of the country and the hive was not bothering a single neighbor.

Fortunately at the last meeting I learned that a kind family nearby understood the value of bees and wanted to sponsor my hives.  Dad and I suited up and moved the hives.  He also helped me gather some honey and process it.

When it came time for them to leave I passed my copy of Beekeeping for Dummies on to Dad.  Mom tells me that he often talks about beekeeping now.  I am betting he has caught the bug!

Monsanto buys Beelogics

Monsanto the most probable suspect in CCD honey bee disappearances recently bought Beelogics a firm trying to determine the cause.


Folks I am normally in favor of entrepreneurship and business success but this is just diabolical! I am not normally in favor of government intervention in business but this is one time when it really is needed.

Write your local, state, and national leaders:


Ask them to put an end to systemic pesticide. Every country that has done this so far i.e. France and Italy have seen a great reduction in Colony Collapse Disorder.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

To Bayer

The corn fields are beginning to sprout here. The plants are just a couple inches tall, acres and acres of them. I find myself wondering how many are systemics.

Moved my bees deeper into the forrest in an attempt to insulate them from CCD due to systemic pesticide.

To Bayer:

When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

Cree Prophecy

Friday, April 27, 2012

Send a message to Bayer, save the Bees

Go to this link, send s message to Bayer, stop killing our bees!


Only He

I was working on my bees the other day.  It was warm and sunny outside.  The day was truly a gift from God.  The little bees were crawling across my bare hands and they were not stinging me, we were at peace the bee and the beekeeper, in harmony.  I was thinking about the miracle of the beehive.  20,000 bees all working in perfect harmony.  You see unlike humans bee's don’t sin, in fact they don't make mistakes either.  They live for the good of their family.  From the day a bee is born till the day it dies it works hard for the hive.  Keepers have found aging worker bees drop dead from old age still trying to get one more load of nectar or pollen back to the hive.  Unlike wasps when a bee stings it dies.  When they must protect their family they always make the ultimate sacrifice.  The honeybee is a completely selfless creature.  Surely one of God's miracles.  Even though they never make mistakes and never sin only 1 in 4 wild hives survives more than a year.  Some have survived for decades, possibly even centuries.  Some barely survive a single year and the entire hive collapses.  If the bees can fail and lose it all and they live without sin what chance do we humans have.

The only chance is through Jesus.  Only He can save us.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Who Speaks for the Weeds?

Bull Thistle

Our garden was recently weeded.  What was once a dense plush bed of greenery and blooms is now irritatingly neat rows of cultivated flowers with naked soil between them?  The weeder (we shall call her Bob) was very unhappy that I let the garden get to this state.  I looked at the piles of Bull Thistle, Buttercups, dandelions, and wood sorrel she yanked out of the garden and looked at her with curiosity.

"Aren't those flowers too?" I ask.  No, says Bob those are WEEDS.  "But the weeds have flowers on them?"  She looked at me like I was someone who needed assistance eating oatmeal.  To me any plant that produces a flower is welcome in a flower bed.  I like it to look wild, verdant, an explosion of life, as if God planted it and not Bob.

Why I wonder are weeds so hated and despised?  For example if I am a few days late mowing my yard it erupts in buttercups and dandelions with whole continents of clover flowers.  It is a magnificent example of biodiversity and natures splendor.  Bob seeks monoculture, just green grass as far as the eye can see uninterrupted blades.  If I wait a month to mow burdock, lambs quarters, and occasionally a mighty thistle will shoot skyward.

I ask myself who is stranger, me or Bob?  Bob seeks to make the yard like the carpet in the living room.  The flower bed a series of neat rows like a corn field.  She will pull and poison and wage war on any organism that disrupts the order of her universe.

For example Bob dislikes my beehive.  In fact I learn that not only are honey bees vermin but the wood borer bees that are zooming around the summer sky like harrier jets are repellent to her.  The bald face wasp, the yellow Jacket, the fuzzy harmless Bumble Bee, all is considered pests to be destroyed.

How can this Bob woman profess to like flowers but not bees?  The only reason flowers exist is to attract pollinators to assist them in reproduction.  If the world was without bees it would eventually be without flowers.  It would also be without most fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Our diet would exist of mostly cereal grains and corn.  Gone would be apples, pears, strawberries, almonds, oranges, limes, lemons, black berries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and watermelon.

God put the weeds on the Earth because they are a vital link in the circle of life.  Often they are the only source of nutrition for bees between nectar flows.  Monoculture is death.  If you plant only one type of plant, corn let's say, you will have to dump chemicals on it to keep it alive.  It would get picked clean and die otherwise.  Old world farmers understood this.  They often used to employ tricks like letting the bean stalks climb around the corn stalks.  The beans use the corn as a trellis.  They alternated rows of potatoes, and carrots, and cucumbers, and tomatoes.  This is biodiversity.  A garden like this will be fruitful and grow with minimum human or chemical intervention.  It would be a benefit to not only mankind but all of God's creatures.

A lot of people don't know this but most 'weeds' are completely edible.  I have watched gardens fail and produce nothing and if you just turn your head slightly you can see a pile of 'weeds' the gardener yanked out and threw away that was full of things to eat.  I once ate a salad at a high end restaurant and it was one of the best salads I had ever had.  I looked closer and mixed among the romaine lettuce were tender dandelion leaves.  We paid good money to be served those "weeds".

If you plant vegetables and flowers, you have to water them, weed them, kill insects with poisons.  If you don't, supposedly they will die.  Maybe, maybe not, but everybody seems to think so.  However weeds grow without mans intervention, often in spite of mans intervention.  Weeds find life in cracks in the sidewalk.  They survive and even thrive despite repeated attacks from the gas mower.

So, Bob if you are out there reading this.  Your ways are the ways of death and destruction.  Your ways will lead to the catastrophic loss of life on Earth.  Your ways are a sin against God's creation for which we are stewards.  I will speak out for the weeds; they have as much a right to live as you do Bob.  They are arguably contributing more than you are.  While I am at it I will speak out for the pests too.  The buzzing insects that ignore you and you seem to fear and loath.  It is no wonder God gave them stingers because he knew in his wisdom that someday arrogant and ignorant humans would try to eradicate them.

I choose life, for me, for my children and someday grandchildren, for all the inhabitants on this rare gem called Earth.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Supering my Lang on a Beautiful Day

Supered up two boxes Friday afternoon.  It was a nice warm sunny day.  I was having an OCD thing with the misaligned boxes and decided to fix it.  I took two supers full of empty frames out in a long plastic box with all my tools.  I brought gloves but decided not to wear them.  Top super came off with little or no difficulty simply prying a little here and there with the hive tool.  The next super down was the one that wasn't sitting plumb on the deep.  I pried the super from the box but couldn't lift it or move it around.  Closer inspection revealed that the frames from the lower box were propolized and waxed to frames in the upper box.

I took all the empty frames out of my spare boxes and carefully removed each frame from the stuck box and put it into the empty box.  I moved slowly and said calming things to the bees.  I occasionally gave them a small puff of smoke.  They were surprisingly tolerant of all this manipulation.  Outer frames were full of honey and inner frames were brood comb.  Unfortunately the very middle one had brood come bridging two frames and stuck to lower frames.  It was essentially causing the problem.  I did the best I could to remove it without causing damage but ended up losing a 4 inch slab of brood comb.  I kept looking for the queen but did not spot her.  Once I got the chunk out of the middle everything started moving around just fine.

I decided not to disturb the lower box because the queen was likely down there and the bulk of the brood nest.  I ended up putting it all back together and staggering empty and full boxes.  It's now a deep and four shallows.  The bees did not seem to mind my intrusion.  The four inch comb that fell out of the frame I brushed all the bees into the hive from it and put it in my tote.  I wanted to put it back into the hive but was unsure how to do it.  I considered leaving it at the front of the hive but thought that might cause a robbing scenario.  Thus far the local wasps and wood borer bees have been abundant around our house but have been leaving the bee hive alone.

Happy to report that despite not wearing gloves I didn't get a single sting.  Ironically a friend from work who is interested in keeping bees was washing his car and got stung by a yellow jacket.  I told him about my working on the hive and all the bees everywhere and not getting stung once.  I am not sure he believes me.

I am glad I added supers because the bees had filled all but two frames with comb and honey in the topmost box.  Most frames were two thirds capped honey and one third uncapped.  Since this is the beginning of the nectar flow I surmised that it was mostly raw nectar in the one third that was uncapped.  Couldn't resist licking my fingers through the veil mesh and was delighted with the sweet sticky goodness in the hive.

All in all I had big time!  Happy to report the bees kept coming and going with nectar and occasionally pollen the rest of the day and seemed to recover from my intrusion with no problems.

I decided not to use the frame lift tool.  I found it better to slip my fingers in between the frames gradually pushing bees out of my way.  I worried that if I used the tool I might accidentally crush one.  I discovered that the inner cover was upside down so the bees couldn't use the top entrance.  It was propolized shut.  I removed the propolis with hive tool and put the inner cover right side up.  Haven't noticed the bees using it yet.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Relation Between Systemics and Disappearance of Bees

Permission Requested.

Cherished readers a recent study points to systemic pesticides as the largest contributing factor in Colony Collapse Disorder. For those of you who don't know. The honeybee (Apis mellifera) is currently in decline. The toll on the honey producing, pollination, and beekeeping industry have been catastrophic.

What is the difference between a systemic pesticide and other types of insect poisons? Systemic pesticides are seeds that are filled with pesticide so that as the plant grows it always has pesticides in it. This kills most insects outright when they try to consume the plant. For bees the situation is more mysterious. Because bees only eat the pollen and the nectar of the plant it usually doesn’t kill them outright. Instead it messes them up so bad they can't find their way back to the hive. Within 24 hours thriving colonies go out to forage and never return often leaving a befuddled queen and a few nurse bees behind to defend the hive. It is sure death.

With regular pesticides the farmer and the beekeeper could work together. The farmer says next week I am going to spray my crops and the beekeeper can make sure the bees aren't there to get sprayed. But with systemics there is never a good time for the bees to pollinate the crops.

What can you do? I urge you to please write to your public officials and congressman. Reference this study:

Make companies like Bayer pull systemic pesticides from the market. Another thing you can do is try to buy local organic produce and especially local honey. The food is better! Also get in contact with your local beekeeping association and ask what you can do to help.

If we lose the bees be prepared to lose a lot of other things you enjoy like fruit, vegetables, spices, and things like almonds. A world without bees is a world where your food is bland and tasteless and costs ten times as much as it does today. In fact I would posit that mankind needs the bees more than the bees need mankind. The honeybee is one of God's gifts to mankind don't throw it away.


Update: New Warré Hive Forum is open for business!

The author Ernie Schmidt with single box Warre hive

The Original Homesteader Bee Hive
By: Earnie Schmidt

The Warre Bee Hive was developed specifically to be a homestead hive. Abbe Emile Warre of France spent the early 1900’s experimenting with over 350 different hive designs and methods to produce the Warre. He named it The People’s Hive, but over the years it became known as the Warre Hive. The hive is making a resurgence on homesteads around the world, partly because of the current crisis in the beekeeping industry today. Even in his lifetime, Emile knew well of the framed commercial hives, their challenges, the level of investment and intensive management they needed. He was also aware of the life style of the 1,000’s of single family farms in his region of the country. Many of these family farms were the definition of homesteads. Many were off the grid, everything thing the family needed was grown or made on the farm. What they couldn’t grow or make, they would obtain by selling or trading surpluses from the farm. He wanted to develop a hive that fit into the homesteader’s lifestyle. The hive had to be easy, inexpensive to build and require minimal addition to the sun up to sun down chores on the farm. Emile also cared enormously for the health and well being of the bees themselves. Spending many years he worked a fine line making the hive the best of both worlds. He summed up his objective in developing the hive as simply- “Happy Bees and Happy Beekeepers”.

Basically the way the hive is designed and managed it emulates the natural behavior of honey bees in the wild. When a wild swarm finds a tree hollow, it begins building comb at the top of the cavity. The queen lays eggs in the new comb, she will follow the newly built comb down. As the eggs hatch and new bees emerge above, the bees will start putting honey in the empty comb. The downward progress of building new comb, laying eggs, new bees emerging, and storage of honey continues until fall. When it becomes cold, the queen stops laying eggs, the bees stop collecting honey, and they form a cluster for warmth. This cluster will slowly move up the comb during the winter living off of the honey stores. Come spring they will begin the same process down again. The Warre hive management method of keeping bees allows the bees live in the hive in this same natural process. Emile wanted the bees to be bees, naturally as they have been for millions of years. The hive requires less management then framed hives. It also lets the keeper harvest honey and wax easier with minimal intrusion into the hive. Emile perfected a hive that as closely as possible imitates the natural behavior of honey bees and still allows the keeper access to the extra bounty of the bees.

The complete hive consists of the floor, or bottom board, 4 identical boxes, each with 8 bars inside, a condensation box, also referred to as a quilt, then the roof. The Warre has been described as a vertical Top Bar hive because it has bars instead of frames, but the similarity ends there. The management style of Emile’s hive makes it even easier to keep bees then the Top Bar. A new hive is started with 2 of the 4 identical boxes with a swarm or package of bees. The new colony starts in the top box and as in the wild begins building comb and moving down. When they have the second box nearly filled with comb, the keeper places a 3rd box under the first two. When the bees have filled 3 boxes by fall, the top box is usually filled with honey and is removed as harvest. The colony will winter well in two full boxes under usual seasonal conditions. Then in the spring another empty box is placed under the two that wintered over.

I could never give more information for getting started with Warre beekeeping in this article then you can get visiting these websites.

They are dedicated completely to the Warre hive, providing detailed free plans for constructing a hive, caring for the bees, and much more. My advice to new keepers is to build your Warre just as the plans and instructions indicate on this site. Sometimes it is hard to resist changing and redesigning as one is building their hive. One does not have to be an experienced carpenter to build a hive. Minor inaccuracies in construction make little difference to the bees. They will not be overly affected by slightly out of square or a fraction of an inch difference here or there. I also would highly recommend joining the Warre Yahoo group at http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/warrebeekeeping This site will give you the opportunity to read from experienced keepers around the world and ask questions about your Warre hive. It is an excellent source for information, support and is a very friendly group. Just a side note about this site- the picture of the Warre hive on the home page of this group is one of my personal hives.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, Washington State. Bees have been an important part of my farm for many years. I keep bees in Top Bars, Langstroths, and Warres. The Warre is my favorite, it is the easiest of the three styles of hives and there is just something magic about the Warre colonies. Watching the bees living naturally as they have since the beginning of time, I feel the Warre isn’t just a bee hive it is a bee home.

I would be happy to assist anyone as much as I can that is interested in Warre beekeeping. I can be reached at email Foxglovewarre@aol.com <mailto:Foxglovewarre@aol.com>

Some final thoughts;

Keeping bees isn’t easy. Like caring for any kind of livestock it requires a certain level of knowledge and effort. It is easier to keep bees in a Warre then a commercial hive, it is designed that way. This hive is not the answer to the challenges of industrial beekeeping, that is not its purpose. It was created specifically for the homesteader.

Exploded view of Warre hive

Active 3 box Warre hive
Photo: David Heaf


Article originally in Countryside Magizine reproduced here by permission of Earnie Schmidt.

Update: New Warré Hive Forum is open for business!