Monday, 19 December 2016
Thursday, 10 November 2016
I was invited to the BIBBA Conference on the Isle of Man this year to talk about top bar hives. This is my talk, lightly edited to remove the soundtrack of a video at the end.
My talk was introduced by Johnny Kipps, a resident of the island, who took me to see his top bar hives during one of the lunch breaks. You can see the video of his hives, complete with local black bees, here https://youtu.be/jRebDnqj-wc
Monday, 16 May 2016
I met up with Kate Atchley after a weekend spent teaching a group of beginners at Glenuig, in the Lochaber area on the coast south of the Isle of Skye.
Kate started beekeeping in London, later in Edinburgh and latterly on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, just north of Mull.
We had an interesting conversation about black bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) and other aspects of beekeeping in Scotland.
Sunday, 27 March 2016
When I wrote The Barefoot Beekeeper in 2007, my main intention was to express my concerns with 'modern' beekeeping methods and chemical agriculture, while offering a possible alternative system for housing bees, more aligned to their own ways of arranging things in their hives. I went on to describe the top bar hives that I had built and populated, with some ideas about how they could be managed, using the 'tandem follow board' system that I had developed in order to make inspections quick and easy, with minimal disruption to the bees.
The Barefoot Beekeeper has sold pretty well over the intervening years, which has encouraged me to do more experiments, resulting in the 'periscope entrance' and the 'eco-floor', which have been shown to be useful and with further potential for development. At the back of my mind all the time was another book, which would go into detail about the various ways in which this versatile hive could be managed.
I coined the term 'balanced beekeeping' a couple of years ago, as it seemed that 'natural beekeeping' was becoming simultaneously (a) a term of abuse among conventional beekeepers, and (b) shading into the territory of 'do-nothing' beekeeping, which is not really bee keeping at all, but merely observation of bees. So I decided to write a two-volume book on 'balanced beekeeping; one with hive-building instructions and a discussion of the underpinning theory behind my top bar hive design, and the other having the management information. This would allow those readers who already had hives to be able to buy a smaller and cheaper book, containing only the instructions they needed.
So, after more than two years of writing and editing - in between teaching and beekeeping and life in general - the second volume is ready: Balanced Beekeeping II: Managing the Top Bar Hive is available from Lulu.com. At 385 pages, it is my biggest book yet and will probably remain so. I have done my best to pack it with useful, practical, tried and tested information that answers most of the questions that people email me and that appear most frequently on the Natural Beekeeping Forum.
Thursday, 11 February 2016
This is Part 2 of the session with Willie Robson, which has a somewhat better sound quality as the storm had reduced in strength by the time we had finished lunch. Willie spent an hour answering questions from the audience and I think you will find this session very interesting, especially if you keep or are planning to keep black bees.
I should also mention that I have just published another book, called Balanced Beekeeping II: Managing the Top Bar Hive. It has taken me nearly two years to write and edit and it has 385 pages full of the most useful tips and techniques I know to help you set up, populate and manage a top bar hive. Take a look on my site at biobees.com under books and you will find both paperback and ebook versions.
Willie Robson has written a fascinating book, full of his accumulated wisdom, called, "Reflections on Beekeeping", published by Northern Bee Books.
Thanks to Graham White for the use of his photo of Willie with an open hive.
Wednesday, 13 January 2016
At 380 pages, this is my heaviest book to date, and unless I finish that novel I have been writing on and off for a decade, it will probably remain so.
I have tried to make it as comprehensive as possible and to cover most of the situations that the TBH beekeeper is likely to encounter.
You can buy the printed book here on Lulu.com
There is also an ebook version on Lulu, which you can find by searching on my name.
You can read a free extract, with the title An Introduction to Balanced Beekeeping