Here’s another bee-autific little blurb in our series of bee-attitudes in need of recalibrating – this is BEE-ATTITUDE #3:
“Top bar hives don’t overwinter in cold climates.”
This one appears to have originated with an early philanthropic effort (by some helpful Canadians, I believe) to provide some folks in Kenya with some supplemental income. Sort of a “stimulus package”, if you will. They used horizontal hives made from local materials – and that used no frames or wax foundation – in Kenya, and in other places – where the temperature ranges from 45 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a number of places a lot closer to home where temperatures could exceed those numbers on both ends, and people are successfully keeping bees in those places in top bar hives – and I didn’t have to go to Kenya to see that.
I accumulate a lot of data about top bar hives and how they behave in the various locations where people are keeping them, and the growing list of people who are successfully keeping bees in top bar hives in places where the temperatures range from 5 to 99 degrees F is getting pretty long. So we’re not sure how it became as assumption that a top bar hive is only suitable for hot climates…
And we hate to point this out, but logic insists that we must: It would seem, if you were to ask a whole bunch of conventional beekeepers, that bees don’t overwinter in Langstroth hives very well either… or maybe it’s that bees just don’t overwinter well, period.
I know too many Langstroth equipment users that lost all of their colonies over a winter, whether a vicious or a mild winter, for it to make sense to say that it can be blamed on the equipment being used.
I think that healthier bees overwinter better – and so that’s our focus.
Does this attitude match up with yours?
Check us out at www.goldstarhoneybees.com. We do top bar hives exclusively, in appreciation of the beauty and the importance of natural beeswax- for the bees.
We’ve been looking for you – and we'd be proud to be a part of your beekeeping journey.
This blog post was originally published on Honey Bee Heroes, and was written by Christy Hemenway, owner of Gold Star Honeybees. Reposted February 2017