Friday, November 18, 2011

Organizing a Local Beekeepers Club

Last night Mark and I went to the Clay County Extension office for what we thought was an organizational meeting for a local beekeepers' club.

Lucky for us, Harry Fulton was doing an overview for beginning beekeepers.  We saw a few familiar faces (Art Potter, John Buckley) and met some new friends (Hi Mr. Ted, Mr. Benny, & the rest!).  We learned a bit more about how to handle swarm management in the spring -- you can bet we'll be watching our hives and swapping the positions of the deep brood chambers *every three weeks* to keep the build-up strong.  We'll also add more honey supers, even if it looks like they won't fill them for a while. It's better to give them more room than they need than risk losing bees to a swarm.

Thanks to Reid Nevins (Lowndes County Extension agent, beekeeper, and pumpkin grower) and his wife Kate for getting the Golden Triangle Club off the ground. We'll see you in January!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Design for an Urban Beehive

Friend and follower Mari sent me a link to an urban beehive design by Philips.  (Thanks, Mari!)

Here is how they describe their company:

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”.

I appreciate what they're trying to do -- help the global bee crisis by encouraging urban beekeeping. Plus, wouldn't it be fun for the kids to be able to watch the bees? The bee bubble, as I am calling it, has a shape and color similar to a bee's body.

But that's where its similarity to real bees and hives ends, in my opinion.

There is more than one fundamental flaw.  Some of them are more evident if you look at the labeled design on their website.

  1. How do you get the bees in the hive in the first place? I mean, the hive body is in your house, against your window. You can't install a package of bees through that tiny entry hole.
  2. The bees are *inside your house*. There's a hole and stopper-on-a-stick "for smoke application." It seems relatively certain you will end up with bees coming out the hole at some point and flying around your house/apartment.
  3. Bees do not like to build at an angle going upward, as evidenced in the frames they've built into the bubble (that they have textured in a honey comb pattern to encourage the bees to build). In nature, they build from the top down -- not sideways. My guess is that they would dislike the varying amounts of space along the edges of the bubble and attempt to build comb from the top of the dome. A mess will ensue.
  4. A tiny plant outside your window (which has an arrow and is labeled "pollen" -- I laughed) is not sufficient to feed a colony of bees. Yes, they could forage in the city and do well, but it seems a bit naïve and disingenuous.
  5. The mechanics of handling the bees -- either to replace a queen or deal with the dead bees that are going to pile up in the bottom because dead bees can't be carried out the entrance tube (and will therefore stop up your smoke hole) -- are mind boggling. (See #2.) Do you unscrew the bubble from the window attachment? Spin those bees around and then release them into your house?
  6. Is this thing attached to a sliding window you'll have to move to water the plant?  Sliding bees = bad idea. Is it on your balcony where you will no longer be able to sit because of bee traffic?
  7. Climate control -- the bees are inside your house.  This can mean drastically different interior and exterior temperatures in various seasons, depending on where you live. Not good for your bees.
  8. Size: I don't think there is enough space in this bee bubble to sustain a colony over any length of time, meaning they will swarm off or die off. Plus, there wouldn't be any surplus honey to eat!
In my opinion, this urban beehive will be a lot of money spent for little return.   Anyone else have any thoughts to add?

Photo from Philips, which kindly offered high resolution photos for download.