I took my annual harvest from my top bar hive at Litton Cheney yesterday. It is on a permacultural holding called ‘Ourganics’ and occasionally I have used the hive for teaching purposes there. I don’t feed my bees sugar so I don’t think it fair to rob them of what they store for winter, but take my share in Spring of what is truly surplus to their requirements, knowing that it is not partly recycled bag-sugar.
At 9.5 degrees C they were flying well, bringing in pollen and nectar. I didn’t smoke them, but worked gently from the rear, removing a bar at a time, brushing off the few adhering bees with a straw, slicing off the honeycomb into a clean plastic bucket with my Swiss army knife, leaving a good ‘footprint’ of comb to guide them when re-building. As I got nearer the front of the hive I could see where fresh nectar was being stored and also a patch of brood in all stages, so I left that and closed up again. No smoke, no gloves, no stings: bees are always so much gentler in a TBH.
I strolled across with my bucket to the owner’s shed/home where a cup of tea awaited me and a slice of cake left over from the ladies’ knitting circle. We shared a bite of fresh honeycomb – scrummy! That’s what I call civilised beekeeping!