Top bar hives for “bees that don’t smoke”

GIY_Bee Hive 2013

Posted on: 9th March, 2015

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: West Cork People

by Justine Sweeney, Clonakilty GIY

“Our bees don’t smoke!” said April Danann, guest speaker at last month’s Clonakilty GIY meeting. Most beekeepers smoke their bees before opening the hives, April explained to a rapt audience, “this makes the bees think the hive is on fire and so they start to eat the honey until they are gorged and docile.”

April and her family have an alternative. They have kept bees in a ‘top bar hive’ style for years now. Their bees are not really aware when one bar, full of honeycomb, is removed as there are no gaps in the bars; they are butted up tight to each other and so the hive inside is kept in darkness – no smoking required.

Top bar hives have an inverted triangle and trough design to mimic hollowed out logs where bees might make their home in a natural setting. This design also stops the bees from attaching their combs to the sides of the box. When the lid is removed from the hive, inside is a series of bars where Max has cut a notch in the underside, thus allowing the bees to attach their combs — this results in triangular honeycombs.

April’s husband Max makes the hives using native hardwoods like cedar or larch, which is screwed together, avoiding the use of glues that could harm the bees. In fact the Danann’s treat their bees (Black Irish Bees) to as natural a life as possible. Although Max and his son Trevor were trained to use chemicals in raising bees, they decided to try an alternative way; allowing the bees to live in a safe environment with as little interference as possible. The family harvest only a third of the honeycomb in August, which allows the bees time to replenish their honey supplies for winter.

The hive is relatively cheap to make whilst bee keeping suits and gloves, which provide protection, are a one-off investment. Only bees around the opening of a hive are aggressive, April explained to the group. As bees steal other hive’s supply of honey, they are on the lookout for who is coming in and out, but your bees will get used to you over time.

If you like the idea of having bees in your garden but don’t want the honey or the risk of getting stung, April suggests getting a hive with bees and placing in a sheltered part of your garden. This will help keep the species alive and pollination of your plants and fruit trees will increase. Bees don’t need us but we certainly need them!

Some suggestions of how we could help our friends the bees followed; they love trees so grow more; don’t spray weed killer on dandelions as bees love them; don’t burn or cut back hedgerows as bumblebees, insects and bees all need them.

The next meeting will be on Monday, March 9 in O’Donovans Hotel in Clonakilty at 8pm. Guest speaker Gemma Hughes will be coming all the way from Waterford GIY to give a talk ‘Spring Health with Herbs – easy herbs to grow and forage for the body to wake out of its winter slumber’.

The general public is welcome to attend. To be informed of all meetings please send your email address to giyclonakilty@gmail.com or look on the new facebook page GIY Clonakilty.

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
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