I’ve heard that by adding a roof to protect your bee hives, you can increase honey production by as much as four or five fold. The bees stay generally healthier since they are much drier when it is raining, much cooler in the summer, and, if the bee hut is faced to the southeast, warmer in the winter. A few straw bales strategically placed around the hive in the winter can help too. The key to this strategy is that the bees will burn energy to maintain the right temperature. And energy is honey!
Jacqueline Freeman of Friendly Haven Rise Farm is my favorite beekeeper. Rather than raising thousands of colonies and focusing on honey production or crop pollination, she raises just a few colonies and focuses on the happiness of the bees. I have visited beekeepers that show respect for the bees, but Jacqueline is the only person I know of that shows what I think is reverence for the bees. In this video she shows us her bee hut, or, as she calls it a “bee house”.
When the hives are on the south side of a bee hut, they get shade in the summer, sun in the winter, and all year protection from rain. Also, they are up off the damp ground. This makes the hive easier for the bees to care for – now they can spend more time gathering nectar and building up those honey reserves!
These hives are mite free. What does Jacqueline use to keep the mites off? Nothing. No miticides. No insecticides. None of the so-called “organic” solutions (powdered sugar, essential oils). What she does do, is provide 3 season nectar forage close by. If the bees don’t have to go far to get their nectar, it causes them less stress. And they are getting nectar that is high quality and free of pesticides and herbicides. Yay for happy bees!
For more information on caring for our bee friends you can listen to four podcasts I did with Jacqueline Freeman.