Plan Bee

Not bound to exploit. Not obsessed with production. No concern for profit extraction. Not driven by expansion. Treatment-free. Liaisez-faire. Non-industrial, anti-commercial beekeeping practices.

Beauty. Synergy. Cooperation. Respect. Reverence.

Not my bee, but the first native bee of the season enjoying the Texas squaw weed—plenty of forage for all around here!

If you guessed these unconventional methods are far from popular around here, you’d be correct.

I don’t even have a bee yard. I do have 5 strong, sustained colonies (aiming for 7) scattered around several acres, which is the best beekeeping decision I’ve made in about 5 years.

It is the intense crowding of many colonies into one space that is so unnatural that it then commands chemical treatments for bee health. Artificial solutions are never the best solutions. I rarely even feed my bees, I consider that a treatment. On those rare occasions I do, because my observations have led me to suspect they are without reserves, sometimes I’ve been wrong, and the bees aren’t remotely interested in my offerings. They prefer to forage over taking my junk food.

Not my gorgeous photo, unfortunately!
Taken by a friend with the latest IPhone, WOW, color me impressed!

By observing intently over time and looking to mimic nature in every way possible, I’ve come to realize how hopeless is commercial-style beekeeping for the small holder, just like all our industrial ‘solutions’ are a never-ending Ferris wheel of problems and solutions, all the way around. Industry comes to drive the entire tradition-turned-enterprise right into the ground.

Well, no thank you! And I haven’t had to buy bees for several years now, thanks to my new-old methods, which is certainly another motivator for commercial beekeeper’s scorn, considering they often make a good chuck of their profits from returning customers—that is beekeepers who follow commercial methods even for their handful of hives—buying nucs and packages and queens from the ‘Big Guys’ who sell themselves as the experts on all things bees.

In other words, the beekeeping industry strongly resembles the pharmaceutical industry, and pretty much every other global commercial industry. One model for all endeavors. One noose for all necks.

All but one of my hives is top-bar, another source for mocking by conventional beekeepers of all ages. But it does seem like alternative types are squeezing their way in through the cracks. And plenty of cracks there are. Not just top-bar fans.

Hard to tell from my bad photo, but this is an observation window on a top-bar hive. I hear other beekeepers pooh-pooh this regularly. I love it! And the bees don’t seem to mind either.

I’m not on any of the popular social media sites, but I know there are treatment-free groups, full of curious kindred spirits, some with bee-loving pseudonyms instead of their real names, like poor, paranoid anti-vaxxers. Oh, lovely lurkers, come out of the shadows to stake your claim! You dare to brave the bees’ stings, surely some stings of misplaced criticism can’t scare you away?!

The bees are just one of many bustling with spring’s promises.

In other news, happy chicks are here, with no snakes in sight.
(In the new, ultra-high security coop within coop, 100% snake-proof. Right?)

We are still waiting on the piglets, the rest of the lambs, and the kids, while trying not to let our anticipation get the best of us!

Are dreams God’s way of diffusing our anxieties?

Author: KenshoHomestead

Creatively working toward self-sufficiency on the land.

11 thoughts on “Plan Bee”

  1. Isn’t that so amazing about ‘bee trees’?! I’ve heard of this often and it’s such a mystery, how do they know??? :). I hope we have one too, also a cedar, got one there last year and have my fingers crossed it has permanently hit their radar. I hope yours stick around! You are so right, so much damage with the weather whiplash, the chemicals, the terrible consequences of the sudden shifts on all life, so much destruction, the crazy frequencies—it’s all a big shit show!! You are very welcome for the info and thank you for stopping in and sharing!

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  2. ah ha!! i have that divider in our top bar and never put it together to reduce it….that is probably why they froze to death. i didn’t shrink down their space….i might try another top bar. and yes we have weather whiplash. 70s one day…30 at night or even colder and then another day of snow at 40 degrees….snow used to come at 32 not anymore. it snows at 40. freezes the water tanks too….ice nucleating chemicals do a lot a damage.

    yeah i got lucky and caught it in our bee tree…i have a cedar tree that always has swarms stop there for a rest. must be on a ley line or something. we call it the bee tree. had a swarm just a few days ago and so far it is staying in my hive. keep my fingers crossed. i have caught swarms and they left the next day…you never know.

    thank you for that info on the dividers and your insulation.

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  3. Highlander, nice to see you and thanks for the kind words and updates! Good to know about the top bar issues in cold climate. And wow, a swarm already this year! Congrats, but I guess that means you must be getting some proper weather whiplash. Our TopBar are also insulated, but intended against the heat. Makes sense the horizontal layout would be harder to them to keep warm, especially if they are relatively small colony in all that space. I try to reduce their space in fall with divider boards, so they are in tight and cozy. When I’ve forgotten to do this, or mistakenly thought they did not need it, I have lost them. That’s so great about your meat processor guy, good ones are not easy to come by, so I’m really glad for now we can still do it all here. I love your stories too and miss your blog! Add them here anytime!!

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  4. I am in agreement with your bee philosophy completely Kensho. We do the same thing. for us it is all about the bees.
    i take honey in late spring if i am sure they have plenty left. our climate is colder and the top bars don’t do well. i insulate them now but left alone they freeze to death. we made a modified langstroth with thicker walls. different opening and bottom boards. no queen excluder that sort of thing. they do better in our area. i do love the top bar and its viewing window. i have 4 empty hives that used to be full. last winter killed them off. this winter i have 1 top bar left and i insulate the outside with a foam board that keeps in the heat. i take it off for spring / summer/ fall. and back in when the temperatures drop.

    all our animals are like the bees. they are on lone from God! They don’t belong to us to exploit. We are allowed to use them for food but we better be absolutely sure when they return to source they are not abused or brutalized or harmed in any way. They can report that they never knew what happened! one day they are on one green pasture the next they are in the animal heavenly pastures! Cows, chickens, geese hopefully give us a good report!

    dogs, cats, horses are completely spoiled. pampered pasture pets! i love your farm reports.. different from us but the same too. You treat each animal like a family member even the ones you eventually eat. just like us! our steers that we raise for meat are named, pampered, and treated like royalty as best we can until the last day. The man we use for meat processing knows us and knows how we feel so he ensures they are quickly put down and humanely or he will suffer my verbal abuse! I know and monitor that process.

    enough about our ribless ranch. I love how you work your place in paradise….a pocket of beauty in a world that has gone Rabidly Insane. I really love your stories and i learn a lot from them too. I caught my first swarm this year by modeling my catcher after yours…..and it has done very well so far. I suspect it will be my best hive. I have only the 3 hives now. several froze last year and i switched to the other hive type and they do better in the brutal cold we get two months out of the year. Thanks to your info one of those is a wild hive i caught!

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  5. Wow. Never heard of pipping. Typed in a search for pipping queen bees & came up with some of the most interesting sites with videos & sounds. Even the pipping queen will use the sound coming from a competing pipping queen to track her down & kill her so she has no rivals. Lots more for me to read. Thanks for sending me down another interesting path.

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  6. Thanks Granny, happy for your interest! The markings are to signify which lambs belong to which mamas, in case they are separated or need to be temporarily separated. As for the pigs, that is the special feature of their breed, the Red Wattle, I think that’s what you are seeing? They hang from either side of their jaws, I don’t know if that once had some significance, but they are one of our heritage East TX breeds and do very well in this climate. And your question about the bees, well that opens a long reply! There is a traditional practice referred to as ‘pipping the queen’ that is really amazing. There are some apparently who can do this, mimic the sound the queen makes when she is moving to eliminate rivals, in order to lure her out of the hive and capture her. This is an old practice of master beekeepers in some areas. But there are others who try to lure swarms by singing and other sound effects, I think this is more hype and have not seen anything really convincing. I don’t sing to them, I try to really closely listen, and I’ve heard a pipping queen before, but no way I could replicate it!

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  7. Beautiful babies. What are the red markings for & what do they signify? I also noticed something on your pig that looks like a teat right behind her jaw which has me curious. What is that? Wonderful pictures of the bees at work. It must take a lot of patience to get such nice pictures. You seem to do a lot of observation of your bees which will probably makes you a better beekeeper than the “professionals”. Do you ever talk or sing around the bees & do they seem to respond in their own way. I’ve read some interesting studies where bees can be trained to do some simple tasks so I do believe they’re very intelligent in their own way. The response you observed when offering them what you called “junk food” was really interesting.

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