Several years ago, we bought in a half dozen boxes of bees. Russian bees. They were supposed to be perfect for our climate and conditions. Soon, we increased to seven and then… disaster. 100% collapse. We were devastated. So we took some time to recoup the financial loss, and to do more homework. This year, we decided to invest in bait hives to attract local swarms to the farm. The idea is that these local bees are better adapted to conditions here (as opposed to bees bought in from southern states). Because they’ve swarmed, they’ve proven their vigour in cold weather, and against prevalent pests and diseases of this area.

Those bait hives are going out now (first week of June, 2021). Waiting for what we may catch are two hives. One is a Warre hive, and the other a Layens hive. Our aim is to compare the two for happiness of the bees and ease of use for the farmer. There is some information that one is better for honey, and other better for building up colonies. We’d like to see what our results are here.

This is a very small starter sampling, obviously. But we’re hoping that over the next 3-5 years, we will be able to grow and add more bees to the bee yard, slowly gathering data about colony health, production of honey, wax, and propolis (which Nissa uses for medicine and incense-making). We’re interested in the possibility of exploring other forms of beekeeping in similar climates including AZ hive houses and suspended hives. The key is that all methods need to be natural – using minimal human interference.

The data we gather over the next 3-5 years will be compiled into a course on natural beekeeping offered through the Farm School. The products of the hives will be made available through our online and on-farm shops. We may even offer a honey CSA!

If you’re interested in following along on our investigation, you can contribute here.

Our supporters will receive the following tokens of our thanks:

$25 – Our thanks in the Natural Apiary course credits, plus one of our favourite honey recipes.
$50 – All of the above, plus our Honey Recipes ebook!
$100 – All of the above, plus a copy of Abbé Warré’s “Beekeeping for All”!
$250 – All of the above, plus our build process, equipment list, and resources! {how-to}
$500 – All of the above, plus reports on our operating results for the next 1-3 years.
$1000 – All of the above, plus a one week personal on-farm natural bee-keeping training on our equipment and process!

If you want to support our project at the upper levels, but don’t have interest in building your own apiary, we will offer those resources in your name to an aspiring beekeeper.