REAL food Garden & Apiary | blog

We are an urban homestead based on natural, holistic and sustainable principles. Our livestock includes chickens & honey bees and we cultivate fruits, vegetables and kitchen herbs.

05 – Honey bees; The Year in Review at 7HH-G

The 7HH-G honey bees in our Warre hive had a very successful year. First and foremost, they made it through the winter successfully and expanded their numbers in the spring into a very healthy hive. The strength of their hive and amount of honey allowed us this second year to harvest one full box of honey – it was such a great experience to be able to do that for the first time.


Our Warre hive during the warm summer months.


Our hive, a Warre hive , is not a very common hive in the world of beekeeping. I usually describe our hive in relation to the two other more popular hives in terms of hamburger restaurants.  The most popular, well known and in my opinion commercial/industrial type hive is the Langstroth hive (which I would say is the “McDonalds” hive). Next is the Top Bar hive which is becoming more well known in recent years but not as popular as the Langstroth (I would describe it like a state wide or regionally known hamburger joint). Last there is the Warre which is not well known at all (I would say it is the mom/pop hamburger restaurant known only in a small town. Our approach to how we manage our hive is best described as “Natural beekeeping”.

The main theme behind a Warre hive is that you let the bees do their thing – minimal intrusion and disturbance of their colony. There is really only two times needed to inspect the hive – spring and fall. Because we are just beginning our journey with keeping bees, we have checked in on the hive once a month during the summer months to gain experience with basic principles of hive life, and performing inspections. So the Spring inspection this past year was positive – meaning the bees made it through the winter alive. Cold temperatures and food in the form of honey and pollen are always a concern when they overwinter. At this inspection we orient the boxes for warmer temperatures of spring and summer, clean the bottom board of any debris and dead bees and then add a box for them to have room to expand their colony in the coming months.


We had two guests, interested in our Warre hive, assist in our Spring inspection, March 2015.


We did have plans to add another hive to our apiary here at 7HH-G but that would not happen this past year. A new Warre hive was purchased and we were set to purchase a package of bees to install into the new hive (Italian bees). However, the limited space here with just this one very healthy and very active hive would not allow us to do other things close to the apiary (work on the compos bin and work in the potager on the raised beds). This is not to say that keeping honey bees is unsafe, but there is a certain amount of space needed around the hive and one for us here at this location is the maximum we feel comfortable having. Another Warre hive will have to wait for more acreage.


Our 2nd Warre hive is ready for bees – this was purchased from Sweet Valley Hives.


As the season progressed , it was clear the hive was healthy and producing more honey than last year. At the fall inspection, we felt there was enough food stores (honey and pollen) for the colony to survive on if we harvested one box for us. We used what is called a “crush & strain” method of harvesting honey – the whole family participated and learned quite a lot .

At the conclusion of the fall inspection, we added insulating material back into the quilt box for the cold winter months and removed the one box of honey , leaving one brood box , one honey box and one lower box with space for them to expand in the coming spring. Finally, the entrance was reduced down to a single bee width to still allow them , on warm winter days to relieve themselves when needed.  Cold temperatures and even snow storms have arrived here at 7HH-G , as we write this post in December 2015. Having harvested honey for the first time, knowing I’m only a second year beekeeper, I’m worried that I made the right decision to harvest – not much to do now but pray they make it through winter. We have seen activity on warm days during this early winter month but we still have a few months to go.


What a beautiful dark harvest from 2015.


We did not originally have the idea of keeping bees when we first planned our urban farm but feel the one hive fits perfectly within our GARDEN. It is an integral piece of our puzzle and complements many of our goals here at 7HH-G. We look forward to the coming spring when bees will once again be buzzing in the air.


Honey bees in their Warre hive after  a winter snow storm, December 2015.

One comment on “05 – Honey bees; The Year in Review at 7HH-G

  1. Pingback: 05 – Honey bees; The Year in Review at 7HH-G | 7 Heavenly Hens GARDEN | blog – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2015 by in Recap posts and tagged , , , , , .
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