The comb on the left is from the Italian bees in our Langstroth hive and the comb on the right is from the Buckfast bees in our Warre hive.  These hives are right next to each other and the bees forage the same area.  Such an amazing color difference!

Since this our first season with the bees we will not be harvesting any honey.  This will guarantee that the bees will have enough food for the winter.  These hives were set up in the spring.  Of course we had to take a small sample thou!!

Honey available seasonally

$15 for 1 pound jar

The Langstroth Hive is by far the most popular type of honey bee hive in the Northern United States and many other parts of the world. Its simple construction and standardized design make it the obvious first choice.  It consists of a number of boxes, open at the top and bottom. These, containing frames, are stacked on top of each other. The deep boxes contain the brood nest, the shallow boxes hold the honey. A weather-proof roof goes on top of the stack, a floor underneath.  The boxes, roof and floor are not usually fixed together by the beekeeper, although the bees use propolis to glue everything together.

Apis mellifera ligustica is the Italian bee which is a subspecies of the western honey bee.  Italian bees, having been conditioned to the warmer climate of the central Mediterranean, are less able to cope with the "hard" winters and cool, wet springs of more northern latitudes. From the commercial and breeding point of view the value of the Ligustica lies in a productive combination of gentleness, fertility, reluctance to swarm, zeal for building comb, white honey-cappings, a willingness to enter supers, cleanliness, resistance to disease, and the tendency to collect flower honey rather than honey dew.

The Warre Hive was developed in France by Emile Warré (1867-1951).  Warré developed the Hive after experimenting with over 350 hives of various designs and types.   It was his goal to find a hive system that was simple, natural, economical, and bee-friendly.  A Warre (pronounced war-ray) hive is simple to manage and maintain. Also known as tiered or supered top bar hives, a vertical top bar hive such as the Warre hive is friendly to the bees since they are allowed to draw out their own comb. The hive is commonly under supered which means the new hive boxes are added to the bottom and not the top of the hive. This promotes the bees natural tendency to build down ensuring a hive environment that is healthier and better suited to their own needs.

Buckfast bees were developed by Brother Adam and he derived that breed from bees that survived the Isle of Wight disease that wiped out most bees in England. Isle of Wight disease was caused by Acarapis woodii, another bee parasite that inhabits the tracheal tubes through which bees get oxygen. Buckfast bees survived well when other bees were decimated by acarine mites. Buckfast bees proved to be highly resistant to tracheal mites when those mites were introduced into the US during the early 1980s. Buckfast are genetically resistant to Varroa mites.

Italian bees and Langstroth hives

Buckfast bees and Warre hives

For our maiden season we chose 2 different types of hives and 2 different varieties of bees.  This way we could get a feel for what we liked working with the best before adding future hives.  (And to make sure they didn't scare the crap out of us!)  After hours of research and taking a bee keeping class we settled on Buckfast bees for our Warre hive and Italian bees for our Langstroth hive.  We were pleasantly surprised by how docile and easy to work with the varieties were.  We look forward to the improved pollination they provide for our garden and orchard.

Replacing the frames in the Warre hive.  This hive replicates a more natural environment for the bees where they build their own comb from scratch.

Opening the carrier with the remaining 8,000 bees!!!

Removing the wax plug from the queen, the worker bees will eat away at the remaining sugar plug over the next few days until  the queen is released.  This must be done slowly so they become adjusted to her pheromones and realize that she is their new queen.

Tom adding the Buckfast bees to our Warre hive. April 2015

Tom the Bee Keeper

Checking in on the bees, honey sampling!  October 2015