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12-26-2014, 12:13 AM
For the longest time I had been meaning to start my own blog as a way to jot down my experiences and thoughts on bees and beekeeping. Several months ago I finally did so. Check out my blog, “Musings on Beekeeping,” beginning with my welcome post.

Most of my beekeeping has been done in Honduras—that’s where I got my start. This means that many of the blog entries will probably deal with my beekeeping here in one form or another. But I’ve also had the opportunity to work with commercial beekeepers in Wisconsin for several years and more recently with a beekeeping training program in Jamaica during three month-long stints.

My beekeeping in Honduras and the trainings in Jamaica have been primarily with top bar hives while the commercial beekeeping in Wisconsin was with Langstroth hives. I start most of my hive by catching swarms and I build much of my own equipment. My beekeeping in Honduras is with Africanized honey bees while in Wisconsin and Jamaica it was the European honey bee. I’ve also been able to deal with stingless bees a bit. So my experiences are varied and it has all been getting mixed together in the blog.

I also have a companion blog with these same entries but in Spanish, “Reflexiones Sobre Apicultura.” This was started more recently and is still missing some of the blogs from the English version. Little by little I will get it caught up to the other.

I hope you enjoy them and I welcome your comments.


Eduardo Gomes
12-26-2014, 03:50 AM
Thanks for the link to your blog. I am also full of desire to start my blog in portuguese language.

As you work with the Africanized bee I would like to ask you two things:
- In Brazil begin to show areas where the Africanized bee deal less well with varroa. What is your personal experience with you bees on this subject?
- Africanized bees has a reputation for being very prone to swarming. What do you guys to prevent and control swarming? Thank you Tom for your attention!

12-26-2014, 05:15 AM
Neat blog site. I'm reading some of it now and am enjoying the section on top bar hives made with differing materials:

12-26-2014, 10:25 AM
Saludos Eduardo,

To begin answering your questions you need to know that my beekeeping style is low maintenance, hands-off. Part of this has to do with time constraints due to my teaching job as an elementary school teacher—it always results in more than full time work. Part of it also has to do with the location of my main bee yard which is up in the mountains on a coffee farm. This means that when I go there it is a grueling all-day affair and many times I need to just take it easy after dealing with fifth and sixth graders all week. And I’m a believer in the notion that bees know what to do to take care of themselves—they have been around for millions of years without the help of man.

So taking all of this into consideration, the bees give me what they give me. This is one of the reasons I like top bar hives. The investment in the equipment is very low. If I decide to go back to Langstroth hives I want to make sure I have time to manage them correctly for optimum honey production considering the amount of money I would be spending on frames and boxes. They are made for intensive manage which I don’t do.

But at the same time the bees always give me a nice profit in honey each year with my low maintenance management. Normally most of the hives will fill their boxes from one end to the other with combs, including a good percentage of honey. The boxes are between 4 ½ and 5 feet long.

So, because of my management style, my hives do swarm. I always look at the positive side in that it ensures my hives normally have a healthy young queen. Some of these swarms I catch in my trap hives and they are used to fill in the empty spaces in the apiary. Others escape to never be seen again.

I have not really noticed problems from the varroa mite with my hives in Honduras. Part of it is probably due to the hygienic nature of the Africanized bee. I don’t do any queen breeding or changing queens to have a more docile bee which I think may cause one to lose some of that hygienic behavior. My bees are Africanized in the truest sense of an AHB--I work them only on nice sunny days and armor plate myself when I need to enter them. And because the hives do swarm, there is probably a break in the mites’ brood cycle which helps to stop its proliferation.


Eduardo Gomes
12-26-2014, 10:40 AM
Thank you for your very insightful response and well contextualized under the operation of you and your philosophy of approach to beekeeping.
Your blog is very illustrative how one can make good beekeeping leaving from few resources.

12-26-2014, 11:55 AM
That's an excellent blog, Tom. I especially enjoyed reading about building TBHs from alternative materials. That gave me a lot of food for thought.

12-26-2014, 12:40 PM
Interesting stuff.

12-26-2014, 03:40 PM
I just finished reading the entire blog and, for a beginner who has not begun yet, I found it all very interesting and informative. I now have a better understanding of TBHs and cutouts.