Thursday, March 21, 2013
Like many other bee-keepers, I was trying the natural way to keep varroa under control using a trap frame or building frame, but because sometimes I wasn't quick to collect it (it was caught under the beehive's super boxes, big number of beehives, etc) from varroa trap, the trap frame became a varroa multiplier. And so in the spring of 2010 I was walking with the trap frame in hand along a beehive of 12 frames and so much I wanted not to have it trapped under the beehive's super boxes and be able to easily access it.
What to do?
I thought to eliminate a wall of the beehive and through some special slits to get the queen on the trap frame which would be positioned outside the nest. That was the core idea.
Looking for a solution daydreaming .....
Will the queen pass through those slits and lay eggs on the trap frame? I thought to make the distance between slits of 12 mm, exactly as the space between two frames. The trap frame trap would come perpendicular on the 12 frames and so situated outside the bees nest. The queen would have access to the trap frame from every single frame of the nest to lay eggs in drone cells constructed by the bees. The idea seemed funny at first because I was asking myself: How to fix the trap frame outside the bees nest? How would I cover it? Questions over questions, just like an interesting math problem.
Bio Beehive - The prototype
I removed a wall of the 12 frames beehive, I extended it with a small pocket area and in place of the removed wall, I fixed a grid with 12 mm slits. That was the prototype that served me for building the first Bio Beehive. The basic idea behind it, was to have an easily accessible trap frame for both the queen and the bee-keeper (without removing the super boxes). That was all, for now.
The first Bio Beehive obtained from converting a regular beehive with 17 frames
First I built the grid with the 12 mm slits, I set it at a distance that would allow me to turn the first 12 frames and at their end that I placed the trap frame and the remaining frames. For frames located after the grid (3 frames plus the trap frame) I made a flight ramp beside them. I decided that next to the trap frame to have a separator and mate a second queen on the remaining 3 frames. This way I would always have a ready queen in stand by should I need it. The separator would have with a Hanneman eye and a sieve eye. I had 2 super boxes on top of the main bee nest I was left with an empty area next to the supers that somehow I had to cover in order to use the old 17 frames beehive's cover. I had to have another box (the queen mating box) to cover this empty area that allow me to mate another queen. When I wanted to access the trap frame, I would only remove the mating box and not all the super boxes. Easy.
Improvements to the first Bio Beehive
Once I had my first Bio Beehive up and running, I thought I would add an anti-varroa drawer at the bottom and with this came the idea of an internal pollen collector, which I would insert at the bee entrance. The bees, with pollen grains on their feet, are caught in a trap between an active plate and the bottom of the hive and forced to pass through its holes. Pollen grains would fall through the net and would be collected in the hive's drawer. The queen mating box on top uses standard frames from the main nest, so its population is a very easy job. During a season 2 or 3 queens can mate easily. Don't think that all this came in existence at once. It all was a long search, trial and error process, discussions with other bee-keepers and I've got at the fifth generation of the Bio Hive from the desire to make it more practical and more efficient. During this all this process I was helped by Mr. Viorel Sfichi, a highly skilled beehive constructor, that felt he could construct the Bio Beehive at its best. It mattered very much and that Mr. Viorel is also a passionate bee-keeper who knows how much importance can have an extra millimetre added here and there.
Bio Beehive variants
As you see in the picture above, Bio Beehive models are stationary (pocket on 6 frames), Pastoral (a small pocket version), Wagon/Pavilion. Bio Beehive proves its performance throughout the calendar year: In winter (3 in 1 or 2 in 1 - is configurable); In mating queens; Obtaining a higher production of honey; Ease the bee-keeper's work, etc.
Advantages of the Bio Beehive
1. Naturally keeping the varroa under control using just a simple trap frame
Trap frame with drones is efficient against varroa while the bees are interested to raise drones in preparation for swarming. When this interest decreases, the female varroa moves mostly on bee larvae. After the sunflower honey harvest (late July and early August) the varroa attack is concentrated on the bee brood. We now have the chance to extend this period of capturing and collecting varroa by replacing the drone trap frame with a normal frame from the nest that contains the queen. Due to the Hanneman mesh on the 12 mm slid grid, the queen will be trapped on this frame but will keep contact with the base bee family. After the queen is returned to the main family, the bee brood will be taken away and decontaminated in another separate beehive. It is important to note that the trap frame can be maintained as a natural "varroa cleaner", long after drone raising interest.
2. Quick and minimum intervention of the bee-keeper
The trap frame is like a mirror for the development of bee family, the equivalent to the engine oil dipstick (no need to dismantle the whole engine to check the oil level). We can make a diagnosis on the level of development of the bees family, without disturbing it.
3. Delaying Swarming
As long as drones are collected in the trap frame and the honeycomb with drones is removed, the family no longer reaches the required number of drones and the swarming is delayed. It should be noted that the procedure for collecting drones, must be accompanied by the gradual elimination of all frames from the beehive nest containing bouquets drone cells so that only the area of the trap frame can be used for raising drones. As long there is a dedicated space to grow drones, the bees will not build drone cells on other frames in other parts of the beehive.
4. Maximum wax production
The trap frame can provide between 6 and 10 pure wax combs, depending on the bees family.
5. Internal pollen harvesting
The internal pollen collector, besides not depending on the weather conditions, has the advantage of being able to be adjusted depending on how the bee-keeper wants to let the bees harvest pollen to raise their brood.
6. Drone "juice" harvest
Harvest this drone juice when the larvae are in the 7-day growth and the level of varroa infestation is minimal.
7. Multifunctional drawer
Anti-varroa mite drawer, pollen drip tray, cleaning area, thermal insulation in winter, ensure good ventilation in summer.
8. Easy access to nourishing and simultaneously stimulating the development of three bee families
We achieve this with bee feeders placed in place of the trap frame and the bees would come and eat through the Hanneman mesh openings. In September we introduced a frame with 1/2 kg - 1 kg of honey and the bees will bring it in their nests. As bee feeders or the honey frame takes the pace of the trap frame (which is now the hottest area of the beehive, located at the center and NOT at the edge like an ordinary beehive) we can continue nurturing and stimulating the bees until late autumn.
9. The safe introduction of mated queens
We achieve this by using the space of the trap frame with the help of the smell and Hanneman meshes and the success is guaranteed.
10. Optimal hibernation of the bees
Bio Beehive is easily configurable to allow winter hibernation 3 in 1 or 2 in 1 just as bee-keeper wants.
11. Reduced food consumption by 2/3
Since bees consume less honey to produce heat, the occurrence of warm days in the middle of the winter is not an urgent need thus leading to better health for the bees.
12. Increase honey production by at least 30%
This is possible because we can now achieve a high density of bees in the family, using the auxiliary bees from the attached pocket (we close the bee entrance of the attached pocket and thus forcing the auxiliary bees to pass through the Hanneman openings of the separator into the main bee family since the the smell is uniform). We don't disturb the family until the honey harvest. It is known that 'forgotten' beehives are the most productive.
13. Organic bee products
Bio Beehive's architecture and its improvements, favours the appearance of organic bee products much more than a classic beehive would do. Since we cease to use various drugs to destroy varroa, the immune system of the bees would improve and they would naturally fight other diseases. If other standards related to organic certification are observed then there are real prerequisites for the harvesting of the organic bee products.
Posted by prof. Ioan URSU (Google: proful online) at 4:02 PM