We started with one hive in 2012 and the 2nd year we had three hives and all of them died during the autumn early winter regardless that we had followed the varroa managment advices with oxalic and formic acid. Anyways, we started fresh with one new hive and gradually we developed our own way of handling bees based on science, own experience and by follow what actually gives the best results when working with the bees. We are far from fully experienced beekeepers but we are not afraid to test new things if it sounds promising. Sometimes it works and we integrate it in our management and if it does not work then we have gathereed experience.
Where we do not find reliable answers we try to make own studies and tests and the results we present here. Right now we test the myth that Heather honey is dangerous for the bees in the winter because the claim is that ash content will create dysentery. We do not beleive that and we didnt find any study to support the claim and hence we carry out our own test with one hive that got 100% heather honey. The winter this year seems to be a pretty cold one so the test will be a good one where we can expect the bees to sit for quite many weeks without being able to get rid of the feces.
After the 2nd year disaster with all hives gone we have never experienced a winter loss, never had a swarm and from this year we dont beleive that we will ever give our bees any sugar neither as winter food or as extra feeding.
We have gone from 1 hive to 13 and next year we plan to expand to about 20 hives – partly to produce a bit more honey but also partly to be able to do tests with some hives. In case it goes south we need some extra hives.
Our production units produce about 50 kg as average (forest apiary) and 70 kg in our urban apiary where we also have oil seed crop that usually give 20 kg per hive. We dont use a smoker since that stresses the bees, we use very little organic acid in our Varroa management (absolutely no hard pesticides) and still succeed to have little issues with Varroa. We rarely buy any queens (if we do then it is to get some new genes), instead we let them do the mating by themselves – we are convinced the bees knows best which egg to use.
Hope you find the pages interesting.