May, 2022. Setting up ForestBeehive natural beekeeping apiary in Central Maine on May 1st 2022. The original idea was to use only local wild survivor bees but with colder Spring season none of the swarm traps caught any swarms yet.
Instead of using the swarm, we went with our next best option: we populated our Layens horizontal hive with local VSH bee colony from a conventional nuc (nucleus bee colony). VSH bees were originally sourced from another New England apiary where the bees were kept treatment-free.
ForestBeehive apiary is set on the shores of a beautiful forest lake and there are a few streams coming in and out of the lake.
We are surrounded by up to 5,000 acres of land within pristine woodlands adjacent to a state park and far removed from traffic and any agro-industrial sources of pesticides and pollution.
We are pesticide-free and bees are not subjected to any chemical or acid or oil treatments — no antibiotics or anti-fungal or acids or essential oils will ever be used.
We provide our bees with the best possible housing for surviving cold Maine winters: the extra thick walls of our stationary long, deep horizontal hives are insulated with 1.5” of natural wool providing 6 times the insulation value (R6) of the conventional hives – this will be ideal for bees’ development and for surviving cold Maine winters.
We source our wax foundation from a remote mountain region of Spain where the bees are far removed from any agricultural crops and forage predominantly on wildflowers.
Here in Central Maine we have beautiful Spring-to-Fall flowering pollinator gardens where we never use any pesticides, insecticides or herbicides.
The original plan was to populate all of our beehives from the swarms of local survivor bees only. The Spring is still cold here, however, & by May 1st none of our 5 bee swarm traps caught any bees but we will keep trying until August.
Today we are going with our next best option – we are populating the 1st from a nuc with the Northern bees from Ohio-originated Varroa resistant bees where in the original apiaries the bees were kept treatment-free and where the cold winters are similar to ours in central Maine.
The famous French beekeeper Georges de Layens in his book “keeping Bees in Horizontal Hives” states that sustainable beekeeping rests on two basic principles: using local bees and keeping them in appropriate deep-frame hives.
We hope that our hardy Ohio sourced varroah resistant bees would survive and prosper here just as well as our local Maine wild survivor bees.
Transferring the bees from a conventional nuc to Layens horizontal hive is relatively complicated as the sizes of the frames are quite different between the nuc box and the hive.
The frames in a conventional nuc box that the bees came with are much shallower but slightly wider than the deep Layens frames.
To move the bees from a conventional nuc box, l will only transfer the frames containing brood & then I will add the top Layens feeder frame with ½ honey and ½ water.
So I will be transferring from the nuc box the brood frames one-by-one while custom-fitting each nuc frame within the deep Layens frame, To custom-fit a nuc frame inside a Layens frame I will first need to remove all of the bees from each nuc frame.
The video outlines the process of transfer step-by-step.
The video does not show that just prior to shaking the box I also added an extra Layens frame where I custom-fit the small cut-off pieces of the nuc frames where some brood was present. I used rubber bands to hold the pieces together on the frame.
As this was a new colony from a nuc box & it was early in the season, I had to feed the bees & so I added the Layens horizontal feeder frame. I try to feed with ½ honey from the verified source & ½ water. Only when no trustworthy honey is available I would feed with ½ organic sugar & ½ water.
– Boris The Bee Guy from ForestBeehive.com