Expanding Our Apiary

Earlier this year both Emily and I were fortunate enough to participate in Milkwood Permaculture’s Natural Beekeeping course, instructed by Tim Malfoy, who is without question the foremost authority on the subject in Australia.  Our love affair with the honeybee had well and truly set in before the course, yet we walked away from the two days spent learning more on the natural methods of working with bees more enamored with these little creatures than ever, and passionate about the concepts and methods taught to us during its duration.

Bee outside hive with pollen smaller file

There are various methods of keeping bees “naturally” (even though the term itself is somewhat of an oxymoron as bees in a natural state are not “kept”), and the course had its focus upon the Warre Hive and method of beekeeping.  Tim’s passion for the Warre method was infectious, his teaching easily understood, and we left knowing that this was the natural progression and evolution from contemporary practices (based on commercial beekeeping) for us and our modest apiary.

As a quick introduction to the Warre Hive, it was invented by its namesake, Abbé Émile Warré.  After much experimentation with hive design throughout his life he came upon the Warre design, which he referred to as “the People’s Hive” (due to its ease and simplicity of use).

The aims and features of the Warre Hive were to be easy to use, economical, bee friendly, and to provide a surplus of honey to the beekeeper.  Essentially, this hive does its best to mimic the natural conditions and requirements of the bee and the housing she desires (in nature, this would generally be a hollow in a tree or something similar).  For a more detailed description, Tim does so better on his site better than I ever could.

As we rapidly approach Spring here in Central Victoria, the bees are very much on our minds, and our little apiary (currently just the one hive) is set to expand with what is promising to be an excellent beekeeping season (fingers crossed!).  As a result, we need more hives, and were are all set to take up DIY Warre Hive construction!

Grey Box Flowers

We are following the plans written by another of Tim’s past students for a version of the Warre hive suitable for Australia (including provision for removable frames, a legal requirement here) and will get started as soon as possible to be ready for Spring.

Not only do we find these hives beautiful, the fact that we can do almost all of it ourselves appeals to our DIY ethics here at Humpy Creek.

We are still very much at the beginning of our beekeeping adventures, and we will be sure to post our trials and tribulations as they occur as they often do with beekeeping (if last season was anything to go by).

For those interested, I urge you all to look into natural beekeeping, and fall in love with these creatures all over again.