Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)
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  1. #1
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    Default Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    I am finding some beeks confuse primitive beekeeping with honey hunting.
    These are not the same.

    Eastern Europe is observing a real Renaissance of legacy, primitive beekeeping ways just as we speak (near TF by the very definition; for sure chemical-free).
    Unfortunately, the English resources on the subject are very few if any (pretty much have to resort to Google translate - better than nothing, IF you can even find the original sources).

    Here is a brief article about what the Poles have been doing (Google translate version).

    https://translate.google.com/transla...lesnykh-pchjol

    The original is an Belarus paper article published in Russian - the header says "Liter of honey costs over $100".
    http://vgr.by/vse-novosti/163-sosedi...lesnykh-pchjol

    I also already suggested someplace to run this google search just to get some general idea of what is going on in the primitive beekeeping world - "пчелы борть".
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post

    Here is a brief article about what the Poles have been doing (Google translate version).

    Piotr was one of the speakers in the Austrian Congress of Treatment free beekeeping in April 2018.

    Thousands of years ago when the Finns were still living in these areas they learned this type of beekeeping and therefore there are tales of bees and honey in our national epoch Kalevala.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    There is a good law in Canada, it is forbidden to keep bees in non-collapsible hives. Professionals will not do this, but for amateurs, bees die from diseases. So this is a bad idea.

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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Probably not entirely the spirit or intent of OPs thread, but the youtuber Jeff Horchoff has posted videos of a couple of occupied tree sections he cut and moved into his beeyards. He set them up and allowed the bees to continue doing their thing. In at least one of them, he adapted the tree trunk to mount a super on top, but the main colony remains in the tree cavity.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by teplov View Post
    There is a good law in Canada, it is forbidden to keep bees in non-collapsible hives. Professionals will not do this, but for amateurs, bees die from diseases. So this is a bad idea.
    Let me just re-use again a video of a well-known keeper from Ukraine.
    (he keeps the log hives in his yard purely for swarm generation - ZERO maintenance for multiple years; bees do NOT die while serving the propagation function well)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssV0sBaB0Zo

    So, I have a couple of new log traps I finished last year.
    They have been deployed too late for the summer - no hits.
    If any hits the next year - I keeping those logs as-is, do nothing, and only watch.
    Whatever happens is fine.
    There are removable frames inside, technically; hehe.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    As I slowly work through log hive publications, I may post something in this thread, as an appropriate place.

    Interior parameters of the artificial cavities in pine tree are varying: 80-120 cm in height and 25-40 cm in diameter.
    Internal volume is within 30,000-90,000 cm3, area of the cross-section - 350 - 950 cm2.
    Diameter of the trunk at the entrance level is usually at least 60 cm, the back wall and the side walls of the cavity have at least 18 cm.
    ........
    The entrance horizontally positioned 15-45 cm below the top level of the cavity and at the same level where the bottom of the wintering bee cluster should be.
    ........
    Pages 93, 94.
    Illustration 3.4
    https://www.researchgate.net/publica..._Bashkortostan


    Why care of these numbers?

    Because, while these are the specs of an artificial, human-carved bee tree cavity as practiced today, these specs are essentially descriptions of the historic knowledge accumulated over many hundreds of years by the bee tree beekeepers. These specs describe what the beekeepers observed in the natural bee tree dwellings and then mimicked those specifications themselves when creating artificial bee dwellings.

    So these are the dwelling specifications the honey bee adapted to over very, very long time of survival in cold-temperate forest zone.
    As well, these specifications suggest the optimal micro-climate that defines the annual, normal bee life-cycle (of the northern bee populations).

    Meanwhile, the so called "natural" Lang bee hive setups, as defined by Tom Seeley, are not even close to what I quote here.
    What puzzles me is that while T. Seeley himself authored an excellent description of the natural bee dwellings, he then completely ignores his own findings and prescribes "Darwinian" beekeeping model based on the sub-optimal fruit crate boxes used as bee dwellings. That will produce a significant skew of the observation outcomes if one pretends that keeping bees in small Lang hives somehow represents the natural, wild bee situation.

    At the least he should have build thick-walled and tightly enclosed Warre-type hives of ~60 liters in volume with appropriately placed entrance.
    Last edited by GregV; 01-18-2019 at 09:28 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    At the least he should have build thick-walled and tightly enclosed Warre-type hives of ~60 liters in volume with appropriately placed entrance.
    GregV:

    Neat stuff- given that I still have trouble conceptualizing metric, I was curious how this information compared to standard hive volumes (assuming my math is correct):

    80 - 120 cm high = 32 - 47 inches
    24 - 40 cm diameter = 9 - 16 inches

    Volume min /max: 15 liters (one 5-frame medium) - 155 liters (one 10-frame deep and four 10-frame mediums or six+ 8-frame mediums).

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    Neat stuff- given that I still have trouble conceptualizing metric, I was curious how this information compared to standard hive volumes (assuming my math is correct):

    80 - 120 cm high = 32 - 47 inches
    24 - 40 cm diameter = 9 - 16 inches

    Volume min /max: 15 liters (one 5-frame medium) - 155 liters (one 10-frame deep and four 10-frame mediums or six+ 8-frame mediums).
    Both log hive books I have stated that the swarms at that region really prefer cavities of volume 45-90 liters.
    So ~60 liters lands somewhere in the sweet spot for the natural swarms.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    ~60 liters lands somewhere in the sweet spot for the natural swarms.
    So it looks like two 10-frame mediums would be the ideal size for a swarm trap?

    I enjoy reading your posts- interesting stuff.

    Russ

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Russ I suggest you spend some time reading
    Seely, Morse 1976 The nest of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.)https://www.researchgate.net/publica...is_mellifera_L
    and Seeley Morse 1986 Bait hives for honey bees https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstre...ney%20Bees.pdf

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    With regard to that 'Bait Hive' paper - do bear in mind that was a scientific paper based upon a single-variable tabula-rasa experiment, the results of which were constrained (by convention) to the one single variable being tested.

    A more complete account of the experiment can be found in Seeley's 'Honeybee Democracy', in which he reveals that in practice the first swarm being tested chose neither of the bait boxes on offer, but preferred to settle within the only chimney on the island which was being employed for the experiment. It was only after access to that chimney was denied to the bees that the experiment could continued.

    Further, although Seeley doesn't specify the size of the boxes used for the raising and transportation of colonies taken to the island, they would almost certainly have been 40L boxes, the same size as the conclusion drawn regarding the optimal size for a bait box. Bees have memory and yet no allowance for this appears to have been made.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Greg - you really do annoy me sometimes (meant in the nicest possible way ...), because I've already trialled Warre boxes and dismissed them. Not because they weren't attractive to bees - quite the opposite - but because their shorter top-bars weren't compatible with those of the rest of my circus.

    But - in a recent post you were talking about reducing the number of combs for over-wintering - which reminded me of Doolittle's so-called "6-Frame Hive" (which was actually a 15-frame Long Hive, dummied-down to 6 frames prior to winter), and so I re-read his description of it. And what I've been overlooking with Doolittle's choice of hive was the frame-size he much preferred - that of Gallup, at 11.25" square.

    Now Doolittle was no slouch when it came to running his colonies successfully, and yet he rejected the frame sizes which most other people were adopting at that time, and yet was able to successfully over-winter on just six of those small frames and then expand the hive's volume as required to either produce a substantial honey crop, or support his own queen-rearing operations.

    So - long story short - I'm now re-examining the Gallup/Warre frame sizes, to see if there are any practical ways in which these may be incorporated here - some ideas around which are beginning to look quite promising.

    Re: your figures:
    Interior parameters of the artificial cavities in pine tree vary: 80-120 cm in height and 25-40 cm in diameter. Internal volume is within 30,000-90,000 cm3.
    If we take the median measurement of 32 cm (or 12.5") for the cavity diameter, and calculate it's cross-sectional area (805 cm2) - this would give us a square box equivalent of 28.5cm x 28.5cm, or 11.25" x 11.25" - which will then hold 8 Gallup frames at 35mm spacing.

    If we then take 100cm (40") as being an average cavity height, then this is equivalent to five 8" Warre Boxes - which is not exceptional, by any means, for a full-sized colony.
    5 Warre boxes have a volume of some 90L, 4 boxes 72L, 3 boxes 54L and 2 boxes 36L - so the volumes of such stacks correspond (more-or-less) with the range of cavity sizes of which you speak.

    So it would appear that with regard to sizes of cavity and the combs within them, there may indeed be some correspondence between Warre hives and these artificial log hives.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Greg - you really do annoy me sometimes...LJ
    This means I am alive and kicking still.
    And this is a good thing.
    Also, "trust, but verify" (Reagan?).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    So it looks like two 10-frame mediums would be the ideal size for a swarm trap?

    I enjoy reading your posts- interesting stuff.

    Russ
    According to one of my sources (Petrov, 1983; pics attached), the sweet spot for the wild/feral bees in the Bashkorostan is between 60 and 80 liters.
    These investigators actually knew what to look for and did not spend the time on any traps smaller than 40 liters (a significant difference from Seleey works).
    The sweet spot clearly preferred by the feral bees is the range between 60 and 80 liters.
    Again - this is for that given location OR maybe for the AMM in general OR mb for the temperate forest zone in general.
    But here are the facts.

    -- 41-60 liters 61-80 liters over 80 liters Totals
    Empty hives prepared (bee trees and log hives) 50 46 42 138
    Swarms moved in 14 30 5 49
    Prct occupied hives for the volume 28 65 12 --
    Prct occupied hives to the total (138) 10 22 4 36
    SwarmTrapVolumesPetrov1983.jpg
    BashkirForestBee.jpg
    Last edited by GregV; 01-20-2019 at 10:14 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    But - in a recent post you were talking about reducing the number of combs for over-wintering - which reminded me of Doolittle's so-called "6-Frame Hive" (which was actually a 15-frame Long Hive, dummied-down to 6 frames prior to winter), and so I re-read his description of it. And what I've been overlooking with Doolittle's choice of hive was the frame-size he much preferred - that of Gallup, at 11.25" square.

    LJ
    I have been ranting for a long time now how the long-deep hives allow for creating internally the configurations similar to Warre/log hives - good for smaller cluster wintering (my strategy).

    At the same time the expansion of this design does not mean 7-8 box high structure.
    You simply fill the long hive to its limits during the warm season - horizontally.
    One or two supers added at max.
    But you winter in the long hive as in Warre-type hive - condensed, tall, and narrow structure allowed by the long hives base frames.

    Anyways, since authentic long hives are poor from the mobility stand point (I know this first hand).
    I have created a good, mobile hybrid in designs - kind of standard Lang boxes (+) Warre type frame only 300mm wide - setting the short way across.
    14 frame brood chamber + N of the vertical supers.

    I will continue my stock deep 300 frame for the core brood area.
    Though, debating the depth of the small 300mm frame (210mm - compatible to Lang deep OR 158mm - compatible to Land medium).
    Main uses for such "small" frame - 1)ability to harvest small, incremental honey crops and 2)nucs.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    According to one of my sources (Petrov, 1983; pics attached), the sweet spot for the wild/feral bees in the Bashkorostan is between 60 and 80 liters.
    These investigators actually knew what to look for and did not spend the time on any traps smaller than 40 liters (a significant difference from Seleey works).
    The sweet spot clearly preferred by the feral bees is the range between 60 and 80 liters.
    Again - this is for that given location OR maybe for the AMM in general OR mb for the temperate forest zone in general.
    Great feedback, GregV. Rereading "Honeybee Democracy" against his '76-'77 studies it looks like the one thing not tested (or at least not published) is how hive volumes above 40 liters but below 100 liters fare as compared to the 45 liter average found in feral colonies- might suggest why the simulated swarm found the chimney appealing?

    Also, the pictures didn't show up on my end- but the table does, and it certainly appears to suggest that 60 - 80 liters is the preferred size.

    Thanks again for the information-

    Russ

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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    ... the pictures didn't show up on my end......Russ
    Some glitch.
    Redid the pictures now - these are just source pages that I translated (to show that I did not make the numbers).

    Indeed, I never understood the jumps from 40l to 100l and nothing in between.
    That single thing undermines credibility the entire study and its conclusions, IMO.
    What else was not reported or was not thought about?
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    What else was not reported or was not thought about?
    I had a brief email exchange with TS a few years back, and certainly the shape of the cavity wasn't on the radar at that time, nor entrance position - only the volume. Testing for just the one variable is perhaps the biggest criticism which can be levelled at nearly all biological experiments - an approach which can work well-enough for non-biological experiments, but biological systems are intrinsically multi-variable - and the higher the organism (and bees are pretty high-up) the more complex this becomes, especially where memory is concerned. Designing really good biological experiments is not for the faint-hearted - can be very demanding.
    LJ

    PS. There's also smell, texture, height, colour, entrance size - must be plenty more that might be relevant ...
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Designing really good biological experiments is not for the faint-hearted - can be very demanding.

    PS. There's also smell, texture, height, colour, entrance size - must be plenty more that might be relevant ...
    GregV and LJ:

    Great feedback- I certainly am not criticizing Dr. Seeley's work. In my humble opinion, he has done much to advance what we now know about swarm decision making. I do think that the information that Greg has posted is really helpful and interesting as it makes one wonder what is the "ideal" nest volume with all other factors equal? It does appear that volumes between 40 and 80 liters gets us in the ballpark and then there are all the other variables that LJ pointed out (plus likely many more) to consider. It might also be true that the ideal volume varies by the climate and the landrace? Seems logical to assume that colonies in areas with longer, colder winters might prefer a larger volume than a colony in a mild clime?

    Good discussion here- I appreciate you posting the information, Greg.

    Russ

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Primitive beekeeping (bee trees, log hives, etc)

    Ya, T. Seeleey's work is to be appreciated.
    He is still one of a kind and the pioneer in the field.
    His report on the feral bee nest is no doubt is a worthy product (I do re-read it).
    Have to start somewhere.

    We now have Internet resources and this is really exciting time.

    Anyways, here are few youtube refs to view the primitive beekeeping as it is practiced today.
    In the spirit of this forum, of course this is 100% TF beekeeping and it is a good demo of the TF possibilities.
    All in Russian, but there is plenty to observe anyway.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj6ZbKl4PJ4&t=130s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svE2P4wpouU&t=1360s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cSZyyZ73Vg
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7c...-CAKpTYy9lBEOA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwkVNXUkWtU&t=52s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUuqPTwg7mU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwfEuUj1lKY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrldi7JwbPQ&t=318s
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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