Image credit: Talking Plant
As part of Discovery's Bees on the Brink coverage, we wanted to look not just at conventional beekeeping methods, but some of the experimental work going on in the community too.
Many beekeepers and experts, including leading bee researcher Professor May Berenbaum, are big fans of the conventional Langstroth hive. But others, like 'tough love' beekeeper Jeremy Marr, believe that alternative hive designs and gentler, less interventionist and chemical-free methods give bees a better chance of survival in the long run. But what does the inside of one of these alternative bee hives look like?
Part of the appeal of the Langstroth hive is that because it contains frames with "pre-built" foundation for the bees, it allows beekeepers to harvest honey easily without destroying comb. This means that comb can be replaced in the hive, giving bees a head-start in the Spring.
Top-bar hives, Warre hives and other foundation-less designs, on the other hand, do not have such an easy method of harvest. And it's for this reason that honey harvests are usually much lower than from conventional hives. (Advocates of foundation-less beekeeping, however, argue that bees are primarily pollinators and that we shouldn't be extracting so much honey anyway.) But every now and then a hive will fail—especially when a beekeeper is following a "tough love" approach in the interests of building genetic resilience—and that failure becomes an opportunity for a bumper harvest.
The video above shows how it is done. It sure looks a lot harder than a mechanical centrifuge.
Visit Mother Earth News' webpage on bees and beekeeping where Jeremy Marr and other beekeepers have been documenting their interactions with honeybees, and check out the Bees on the Brink webpage for more network-wide coverage of honeybees, Colony Collapse Disorder and the fight to save our pollinators.
More on Bees, Pollinators and Colony Collapse Disorder
The Stunning Beauty of Pollination Caught on Film (video)
Tough Love beekeeping Lets Weak Bees Die
Honey Becomes Jewellery in an Effort to Save the Bees
Some Bumblebee Populations See 96% Decline
Colony Collapse Disorder and the Epic Fight to Save the Bees
Ellen Page Speaks Out About the Vanishing of the Bees
The Vanishing of the Bees Documents the Ongoing Decline of the Honeybee