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

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.

Latest News Articles:

Clonakilty Fairtrade Fortnight celebrates 15 years
€44 million to improve Cork roads
Clonakilty Access Group AGM hears of many frustrations and challenges for people with disabilities in the town
Schull student scoops top invention award at BT Young Scientist
Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat

Join us on Facebook

Did you know..... ... See MoreSee Less

Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1jc2tlH75Q
... See MoreSee Less

16th February, 2018  ·  

Vikings talk in Clonakilty!

“The Viking Gold and Silver Hoards from County Cork” is the topic of the next Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage lecture on Thursday 22nd at the Parish Centre starting at 8pm.

It will be delivered by John Sheehan, senior lecturer in the Archaeology Department, UCC and a former member of the Heritage Council and the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Vikings were an important presence in Ireland for over two centuries. As well as inflicting great terror they were also responsible for introducing urbanism and new economic systems to the country.

In this talk the focus will be on the economy, looking at the gold and silver hoards that were buried in Co. Cork. It will also explore how these hoards were discovered, what happened to them, and where they are now!
... See MoreSee Less

15th February, 2018  ·  

Bandon Toastmasters is a club that helps people overcome Glossophobia, a fear of public speaking. The club is holding a night of inspirational and motivational speakers on February 22 that is a must for anybody wishing to overcome this phobia.
Tickets can be purchased either on the club's facebook page or through eventbrite.

www.eventbrite.ie/e/bandon-toastmasters-presents-ignite-your-potential-tickets-41871052445?aff=es2
... See MoreSee Less

13th February, 2018  ·  

Get your togs on in aid of Bantry lifeboat..... ... See MoreSee Less

8th February, 2018  ·  

Jump to:

Top