Swarm Traps and Horizontal Hives

If you didn’t read the previous post, Sustainable Beekeeping, take a minute to peruse that post.  This post will attempt to simply explain the first and second “commandments,” which is presented by the World’s Greatest Amateur Novice Beekeeper ????????…Adam. 

Number One“Only keep bees of the local race…”
This means swarm trapping around the area you keep bees. I believe there are multiple reasons this is the best option for me and anyone else wanting to be natural and sustainable. First off, these bees are FREE BEES!!! Second, they are feral and could very well come from a natural colony living in the wild which would be the best bees to get. They are already acclimated to your area meaning they are already used to the climate, pests and flora. By catching a big swarm, arguably you are getting a proven and mature queen who just successfully overwintered. These are all wins and these bees should be good bees! Make sure you catch them during the active swarm season in your area that occurs during the spring nectar flow. In middle Tennessee our swarm season is March through June. The best and biggest swarms over the last few years were caught over the last week of April and the first week of May.
Number Two“Keep your bees in natural horizontal hives with extra deep frames or log hives.”
Horizontal hives made out of 1-1/2” – 2” thick lumber offers much better insulating properties than vertical hives with 5/8” thick side walls. This makes the bees more efficient in the cold winter and hot summer months. Bees’ natural habitat is a hollowed out tree. Think about how thick the sidewalks are on a tree. I did a massive cutout on a cedar tree and the cavity went all of the way to the ground. Also, think about the soil temperature all year long down there at the bottom. I guarantee that helps with cooling in the summer and warming in the winter. I built my last Layens with a screened bottom but also an enclosed base that goes down to the soil. The bees seem to be doing just fine and my thinking on the design goes along with above mentioned cedar tree. Also, I believe honey bees prefer cedar trees. I have now found several colonies living in the wild in cedar trees. Cedar is mold resistant, pest resistant, rot resistant. What is not to like?! I am now having custom Layens hives made out of true, 2” rough cut cedar by my Amish friends. I have a friend keeping bees in them already and he says they are doing excellent!
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