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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
    Posts
    4

    Default Newbee from Estonia

    Hello all, I've been reading this forum and a number of others for about a year and a half now. I'm really interested in the hTBH and treatment free beekeeping. In my preparation to keeping bees, I got Les Crowders "Top Bar Beekeeping" as well as the three Philip Chandlers books: "The Barefoot Beekeeper", and both volumes of "Balanced Beekeeping". I also believe I have read through most of the material on Michael Bush's website as well as watched his presentations on treatment free beekeeping practices.

    So last year I missed out on the early swarming season and our summer was one of the worst that the seasoned beeks can remember. Then I approached some of the local beekeepers in trying to see if they could sell me a nuc or an artificial swarm. But after they asked the typical question of "which type of frames are you using?" and hearing I'm not using any, but instead I have had the nerve to build my own beehive - and one that looks like a feeding troth for the cattle at that, they quickly remembered that they can't really spare any bees after all.

    I then attended a local beekeepers lecture - and was absolutely disappointed in the whole ordeal. I decided not to let my planned methods for beekeeping to cause any prejudice, so kept my mouth shut and eyes-ears open, hoping to pick up tips and gather information. Unfortunately the whole thing was nothing more than one man bragging with his beekeeping equipment, speaking ill of other "prominent" beekeepers (not that I would know the person they were talking about, but apparently she was a known lecturer herself)

    So, realizing I'm on my own here, I'm determined to catch a swarm or two this spring.

    Oh, and a Thank You! from the bottom of my heart goes to all three:

    Michael Bush
    Philip Chandler
    Les Crowder

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    4,749

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Welcome!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Hanover, PA
    Posts
    215

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Welcome and good luck to you!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,338

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    welcome
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 17 years; TF for 12; Zone 7B

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Appleton, WI
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Welcome!
    I just started with top bar hives last summer, and built them to plans from Wyatt Mangum's book. I built a 10 frame unit to hive swarms, and it worked very well for the two swarms I got. My top bars have a foundation strip waxed into a thin saw kerf. I did not feed them, but they made comb rapidly and had capped brood by the 12th day.
    Perhaps you could make a smaller, portable hive to use as a swarm catcher or trap with the same cross section as your hive to be ready for swarm season.
    Rich

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    9,356

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Welcome!
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Amarillo Texas
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Welcome
    Nate Henderson
    "I hate being stung out of ignorance, but it sure happens a lot"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,071

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Welcome! My wife was born and raised in Tallinn, and I've had the pleasure of visiting Estonia a few times. Once in the winter, and once in the summer. A beautiful country with a fantastic culture.

    Last time I went, I got an opportunity to meet with one of Estonia's commercial beekeepers, and got a chance to chat about bees for a day. From what I learned, established beekeeping practices in Estonia were VERY different from the methods I am used to. Box size and orientation was different for me. He had the bees draw out new foundation every year (which was also very different for me). Colony size, density, placement, and honey harvest was very different as well. All honey in Estonia is very prone to crystallization, and fairly rapidly, which needs to be taken into consideration.

    The climate in Estonia is much more similar to parts of Alaska than the rest of the continental US. Which affects management practices. Most of the books you read aren't geared toward your climate, bloom structure, or local management customs, so keep that in mind.

    Personally, I tried treatment free for several years. That was after I had years of beekeeping experience under my belt. It didn't work out for me, and I ended up losing all my hives. I can't imagine trying to figure out treatment free and learn beekeeping from scratch at the same time. Most that do, fail. Keep that in mind.

    My strong, strong, strong recommendation to you would be to find a local mentor to teach you beekeeping. Learn from their style. Replicate what works for them. After a few years, once you've got the basics down, try to change something. If you want to try TBH then, go for it. If you want to try treatment free, go for it.

    In my opinion, if you try to start off with a new hive design (for your area at least), with new management systems (treatment free), while reading books geared for a location that isn't similar to yours, without a mentor, you're very likely to fail.

    But, I wish you all the best in whatever direction you choose to go.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Thanks for the recommendations and info, Specialkayme.

    Not sure if you picked this up when you visited Estonia, but we Estonians are stubborn folk. So I'll be sticking with the top bar hive and only consider alternatives if I see I'm not able to make it work. In all my stubbornness, the health and well-being of the bees comes first for me. So I'll be researching and learning as much as possible to make sure to cause as little harm to them as possible.

    Indeed, our climate here differs a lot from that of most continental US. That has led me to do additional research on what information I should be able to use straight from the books and what needs to differ. Luckily I've found couple good sources for that. First there is a Swedish top bar hive beekeeper on these forums here. Che Guebuddha. He's also keeping a blog about his beekeeping adventures so there's a wealth of information there I can fall back on. Also, for keeping bees in generally harsh conditions, I've been listening to Michael Palmer's lectures. And finally - not too far north from me is a Finnish beekeeper Juhani Lunden who is not using top bar hives, but who has been keeping bees treatment free for years now.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    3,071

    Default Re: Newbee from Estonia

    Lol, yes, I'm reminded daily of the Estonian Stubbornness from my wife. While our daughter is only six months old, it appears she inherited the estonian stubborn gene, as well as my impatient gene. A very dangerous combination.

    Keep in mind that most, and by most I mean the VAST majority, of people that try to do what you're doing fail. If you're able to succeed, all the better. I still think you'd be better off trying something easier, and more successful, to start with.

    My bees are several times healthier today than they were when they were treatment free. A few newbies in the area have tried to go treatment free, and asked for my help when inspecting. Most look and act sick, and are suffering. I use organic acids in treating, and they look and act healthy as can be. So to say that you're looking for the heath and well-being of the bees to come first, you might have your assumptions out of line.

    Not that any of this will change your thought process.

    I hope your persistence and stubbornness will continue after your bees die (and you have to catch your third, forth, fifth swarm).

    But, I wish you all the best of luck.

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