An avid apiary hobbyist, Stephen focuses on long-term natural sustainability of bee populations. To wit, he does not use medications in his hives. He is currently investigating the health benefits of bee bread.
Stephen and Evelyn have named their beekeeping operation as B-Haven Apiary. They have written a paper that describes B-Haven Apiary.
Honey has wonderful nutritional properties. Stephen and Evelyn have written another paper on Honey and Nutrition. Stephen is also fascinated about the work being done at Hoshindo Healing Arts Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Specifically they are using bee venom as a protocol for activating the immune system and a treatment for arthritis.
There are a host of great articles on the web. Here is a site that is packed full of information: The Honey You Should Never Buy – It May Be Tainted with Lead and Antibiotics. The American Bee Journal also provides a great resource for budding apiaries.
A major goal of a horizontal hive is to mimic nature as much as possible. This is a natural approach to beekeeping. In nature the bees maintain a hive nucleus which consists of the queen, the brood, and bee bread. During times of plenty (the honey flow), the workers expand the hive outwards to store excess honey. When winter comes, the hive shrinks back to the nucleus.
Another goal is to minimize hive interference. This helps keep the bees from becoming aggressive. This is a big deal in the Texas Hill Country. We do have problems with aggressive bees and Africanized Bees.
In a traditional hive, the beekeeper should open up the hive nucleus at least every 10 days to prevent swarming and to ensure that the bees have enough room to expand vertically. This process requires the beekeeper is essentially tearing the hive apart. This greatly upsets the bees and can damage the hive. The beekeeper is trying to control the bees.
In a horizontal hive, the beekeeper performs only one invasive hive examination in the Spring, that is it. No more ripping the hive apart on a 10 day basis. The bees are very docile in the Spring. The Spring Exam is used to ascertain the health of the hive and to perform a good Spring Cleaning.
A horizontal hive is a double deep hive (two large Langstroth frames) so that the bees have plenty of room to move vertically. It is also long enough to accommodate 40 total frames. So a horizontal hive is built as a single unit. There is no adding and removing of supers as in a traditional hive.
In a horizontal hive, total hive space is controlled by Styrofoam dividers on each side of the nucleus. The dividers are moved out during the honey flow to allow the hive to expand. The dividers are moved in to shrink the hive during the Winter. General hive inspection throughout the year consists of removing the top and
inspecting the frames by the dividers. In a strong hive, the dividers will need to be moved outward to ensure that there is enough space for the honey flow. In a weak hive, the dividers are kept in to help the hive protect itself. That is, you do not want a weak or young hive to have too much space to maintain or defend.
Another cause of hive aggression is feeding the bees on or in the hive. I want to minimize opening hives. So I feed the bees in a communal manner away from the hives.
Honey harvesting in a horizontal hive is very simple. No more tearing the nucleus apart. You first wait until the late Fall when the nucleus has pulled back off of the honey frames. Then just remove excess frames from the outside of the nucleus. That is all there is to it.
So I have decided to employ horizontal hives in the B-Haven Apiary. I will be sure to publish the results.
Bee Aura Therapy
I am looking into Bee Aura Therapy. Apparently, lying down on a bee hive is healthy and beneficial. This is best done with Horizontal Bee Hives. Since the hive entrance is outside of the sleeping quarters. I am looking into building a Bee Aura Therapy Cabin, similar to a sauna. The cabin benches are horizontal bee hives. All of the hive entrances are outside of the cabin. The cabin itself would have entrances and ventilation.
Nikolai Yaravoy and Nasha Pasika have done some interesting work on the subject. I am thinking that this would be a great way to relieve stress. Kick back in the cabin on a bee hive with a nice glass of wine or beer.
We have found that kicking back in front of the hives is very relaxing. Watching hive activity and listening to the hives will definitely mellow you out.