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What do you think of the Urban Beehive within the Microbial Home system? Would you keep bees at home?

There are some questions regarding the function of the Beehive within the domestic ecosystem, probably because it is merely seen as a way to produce honey. Besides the honey (which is ofcourse an important part of the beekeeping, especially the antibiotic values that are being discovered in honey) it is also designed as a contibution to the solution of stopping the steep decline in bee colonies that, since 2006, threatens global production of food, since almost one third of food production is somehow/somewhere depending on pollination. In February 2011 the Dutch Rabobank (originally a cooperative farmer bank) published a report on the importance of the honey bee. You can find it here.

 

Tags: Beehive, ddw, design, home, honey, microbial, probes, urban, wax

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I have no experience in bee keeping at all, but came to this page because of an article I read on this hive.

I was hoping to find an answer to the rather obvious question of maintenance but sadly I haven't.

Is this design intentionally difficult/practically impossible to maintain?  Is the design intention that the bees are never managed?  If so, then I'm afraid it is nothing but a pretty concept, a failure in theory and practise.

And that's a pity, because I would like to be able to keep bees in an apartment.

The one question I would ask then is; what is the explanation for individual colonies that do survive w/o treatment?  There are many colonies that have lived in a tree or a wall for many years that are not re-habitated spaces but continuous colonies.

 

The simplest answer is that the claim that the colony has survived "for many years" is incorrect.

 

I've been called in on a number of these claimed "survivor stock" colonies, and it amazes me how many of them have marked queens, instantly proving that the colony swarmed from a managed hive.  :)

 

One could compare DNA with recent stock sold by queen and package suppliers and prove it, but anyone with the expertise and equipment to do this sort of thing would view the test as the equivalent of attempting to argue with creationists over the age of stars and rocks older than the creationist's view of the age of the Earth.

 

The tolerance of the research community for nonsense is fairly high, for example, there are now seven peer-reviewed and published studies explaining that "small cell" beekeeping provides no advantage in terms of disease/pest resistance over conventional beekeeping, but there is a limit to the time and money available, so research tends to focus on issues not yet resolved.

Beautiful design however not appropriate for beekeeping. It's too small, inaccessible and will create constant swarms.  The honeybee needs more space than what is permitted in this design.  Once they outgrow it, they will swarm.  If a colony is not well....i.e. American Foul Brood...and they swarm, they will infest all local honeybees. The devistation to others is disasterous.  Whether or not one chooses to treat for varroa or nosema is also something that needs to be considered as this design doesn't permit access into the actual hive. Beekeepers manage their hives to help support a healthy colony. Maintaining health (by whatever means a Keeper chooses) is necessary. This beautiful design does not support ones ability to support the colony. Although beautiful, it is too small, does not support the Honeybee as it should, and by not supporting them puts them and other honeybees at risk. More knowledge on the workings of a colony is needed to create a more viable space for them so others can enjoy their specialness.  If one is not willing to commit to the actual care of their colony, they should not do it nor should it be done for aesthic reasons. There are lives at risk albeit teeny tiny ones but quite extraordinary none the less. Keep working on it, the concept is a good one.

The one question I would ask then is; what is the explanation for individual colonies that do survive w/o treatment?  There are many colonies that have lived in a tree or a wall for many years that are not re-habitated spaces but continuous colonies.

The simplest answer is that the claim that the colony has survived "for many years" is incorrect.


If that is true, then there is no such thing as a feral bee population or bees that can survive w/o human intervention.  Call me a DREAMER but which I don.t believe either of those two things to be true.  Clearly you are well read and know your bees; what is your explanation for the success of Michael Bush who has been treatment free for many years?

 

Back to the hive:

Folks at Phillips, have you kept bees in your hive or is it untested?  If it is untested, I would like to volunteer to be a tester and provide feedback.  

 

Thank you,

 

David in Seattle

 

 

 

If that is true, then there is no such thing as a feral bee population or bees that can survive w/o human intervention.  

The invasive pests and diseases that plague our hives have not proven to be things that, if ignored, do result in the untimely death of one's hives.
Call me a DREAMER but which I don.t believe either of those two things to be true.  

Your wish for a return to the days before free trade brought pest and diseases to our shores and the Almonds did for beekeeping what Cocanie did for Miami is understood.  Everyone wishes that the bees would thrive without needing so much work, and everyone wishes that fewer hives would die every year despite the best efforts of the best trained and best-equipped beekeepers to ever exist.
But wishful thinking is not going to save anyone's bees.To quote Oscar Gamble from when he played for the NY Yankees, "They don't think it be like it is, but it do."

Clearly you are well read and know your bees; what is your explanation for the success of Michael Bush who has been treatment free for many years?
Not so many years.  He appeared on BeeSource back in the early to mid 2000s and started making eyebrow-raising claims after a bit.

Bush is an earnest but typical example of someone who keeps bees in an isolated area, and has, through standing idly by and watching his bees die over and over, replicated the "Arnot Forest" experience, where he has inadvertently bred a less virulent strain of mites, rather than stumbled upon magic disease-resistant bees.  Mike is unique in that he employs an evangelical zeal, posting hundreds of messages per week on every available forum, and he thereby spreads the misconceptions to many others.

It would be childishly easy to prove me wrong in this - one could simply purchase a split from Mr. Bush, and take it to a less isolated area, where more typical varroa would hitchhike in on drifting bees.  This has been done several times with bees claimed to be "resistant" to varroa and other pests/diseases for whatever reason, and in each case, the bees have fared no better than what one would expect for a neglected hive - they've died.  Both the Seeley Arnot Forest paper and some work by Zach Huang of Michigan State U. are easy-to-find echoes of this common theme, and a reason why the self-proclaimed "organic beekeepers" refuse to permit anyone with any legitimate scientific credentials to speak at their conferences, and no longer fall for the trick of selling their magic bees to anyone who has any experience in beekeeping.


Another possible explanation for Mr. Bush would be that he is a very successful troll who craves attention and has the free time to post hundreds of messages per day in multiple forums, but this would require one to replace naivete with cynicism, and would still leave unexplained why such an obscure field as beekeeping would attract someone who craved attention.

 

Back to the hive:

Yeah, that hive - we aren't going to get any response from Phillips it seems, so the photos can be dismissed as photoshopped "conceptual artwork".  Just look at the angle of the combs and tell me that those combs would be built at those unusual angles from the (usual) vertical orientation.  Clearly, the designers have never seen a simple observation hive, which appears to be what they are trying to implement.  But the cavity size is also far too small to become anything but a swarm factory, and the lack of even a "screened bottom board" means that the beekeeper will be flying blind on even the basic issue of varroa mite infestation levels.  So, it is 100% concept and 2% valid practical design.  I see a dozen or so such presumptuous attempts to "improve" beekeeping cross my desk every year, and each one is a design from someone with little or no actual hands-on beekeeping experience.


Sad, as we clearly would all enjoy helping them make something that would be a useful practical hive.

 

@ james

 

Great point. The comb can not be in that position and would never be built in that position.

 

I agree also that this is just a photoshop experiement

 

I really like the design if it can be made functional. I would love to have one in the house to be able to see the bees at work. I garden and my relationship with the bees around my home is indispensable. Helping to increase the bee population would be great and support more local gardening.

 

I am a beekeeper and I find this design so ridiculous as to be beyond comment. Substitute "ponies" for "honeybees" and it makes exactly as much sense. Please remove this atrocity from your website - it does not merit serious discussion.

David,


I doubt that you will get any design explanation from Phillips.  The design looks too unmanageable for any experienced beekeeper to have made.  My guess is some glass blowing artist read Beekeeping for Dummies (Which is  a GREAT book by the way) and went from there without actually working a local beehive.  There is enough knowledge inherent in the design to have to have done something like that but obviously no hands on experience.

 

I have a vision of someone buying this product and trying to install it in some penthouse apartment in NYC for their mother's patio garden.  Buying 3 lbs of bees and a queen and then trying to get them into the hive INSIDE THE APARTMENT.  Recipe for lawsuits and disaster from day 1.

 

The honey extraction part is what gets me.  Whoever designed this has obviously not ever seen the bottom of a hive.  I definitely prefer not to filter my honey through bee fecal matter and dead larvae, let alone dead hive beetles and varroa mites.  And how do they get it to flow?  Just scrape the frames?  I assume there is no way to discriminate which frames you are scraping so you get brood, pollen and wax in the honey that just drips to the bottom of the fecal matter filled hive.  YUM!

I am all for observation hives in apartments.  There are many designs out there that WILL work in an apartment in NYC with some kind of access to the outside.  This is not one of them.  Just another example of someone trying to take nature, wrap it in a pretty box and expecting it to cooperate the way we want.  Nature has claws, fangs and stingers and should be approached as such.

Geoff

DAVID FEINBERG said:

James,

 

I've read Seely and am aware of the science.  This is more of a topic for Beesource than here,

 

The one question I would ask then is; what is the explanation for individual colonies that do survive w/o treatment?  There are many colonies that have lived in a tree or a wall for many years that are not re-habitated spaces but continuous colonies

 

I am really hoping someone from Phillips will chime in and give us a little design explanation.

 

David

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