Woodhaven Place

Your Neighborhood Farm

Tag: beehive

Is It Really Necessary to Fence Your Apiary?

 

When beginning beekeepers run through the list of necessary equipment, their thoughts naturally turn to bee boxes, smokers, and protective clothing. That’s why it may come as a quite a surprise to find that proper fencing is just as important as all the other tools and trappings. Fencing serves two distinct purposes in beekeeping — and your particular situation may call for a specific type of fencing.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Bees tend to travel in a straight path to their hive — anything that gets in their way is a potential target for a collision or stinging. The easiest thing a beekeeper can do to avoid this issue is to locate their bees away from heavily trafficked areas and surround the beehives with solid fencing. A fence lessens the chance that a bee will accidentally crash into someone walking nearby by redirecting their flight path upwards and above the heads of most humans.

It’s important to build the fence before bringing in your bees. If you do so after they’ve settled, you’ll have to wait a few days before you’ll see higher flight paths.

A solid fence can also give your neighbors peace of mind. Large accumulations of stinging insects have the understandable effect of making people nervous. Those who aren’t keen on the idea of you keeping bees can be a nuisance, so building a fence that conceals your hives can be helpful in creating an “out of sight, out of mind” situation.

To Keep Out Predators

Bees have many predators, but luckily, most can be stopped by adding various protective features to your bee boxes. However, there are two predators in particular that have to be stopped before they ever make it to the boxes.

Raccoons are clever little creatures, and if they set their mind to getting into something, they are often successful. Expert climbers and proficient at opening latches, raccoons are completely undeterred by standard fencing. To keep these adorable troublemakers from destroying your combs, you’ll need to add electric wires to your existing fence. Starting six inches from the ground and about eight inches away from your solid fence, install two or three wires at an interval of four to six inches.

For beekeepers in forest environments, bears will be your number one enemy. Like raccoons, anything short of an electric fence won’t keep them out. It’s a good idea to install your electric fence early in the season, as it’s much easier to keep bears away from hives before they’ve had a taste of what’s inside.

To keep bears out, you’ll need a seven wire, 54″ high fence. You’ll need to give the local bear population a quick tutorial of the fence by baiting it with peanut butter, bacon, or fish. This will prompt them to touch the wire with their nose or tongue, and get a shock. Bears are incredibly intelligent, and have a long memory, so a psychological barrier will easily keep them from decimating your hives.

Fencing your apiary isn’t so much an option as it is a necessity. From redirecting your bees’ flight path to preventing bears from munching on your brood nests, a fence can be one of your greatest assets.

Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.

The Woodhaven Place Honey Bee Saga

I have always found honey bees interesting, and about four years ago I built our first hive.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into with bee keeping.

Have you ever wondered why it is called bee keeping and not bee farming?  I finally have the answer.  If you keep bees you are always trying to keep them happy, keep them fed, keep them alive, and keep them from leaving.  Unlike having farm animals like chickens, cattle, or goats, controlling bees is nearly impossible.  If a bee colony wants to swarm, chances are it is going to swarm.  I have learned bee keeping the
hard way over the past four years and I finally feel like I know what I am doing.

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First things first, you need to know some bee keeping terms to keep from being confused.  A ‘bee hive’ is the place bees live.  A ‘bee colony’ is a group of bees that live together with a queen and drones/workers.  A ‘swarm’ is what happens when the entire group of bees decides to leave the hive.

When I first started out, I decided that we should keep bees in the most bee friendly way possible.  Through much research, I determined that using a Top Bar Hive (TBH) was the easiest to build and most natural way to keep bees.  Most people 20130514_161740think of a tall stack of white boxes when they think of bee keeping.  That type of hive is the traditional langstroth hive.  In a langstroth hive, bees live on man made frames, normally with a wax foundation embossed with a honeycomb pattern.  This is not really the best environment for bees because bees grow to fill the cell they pupate in.  If bees make their own comb the colony decides what size bees they need.  Smaller cells create smaller bees, and larger cells create larger bees.  By forcing bees to use the pre-pressed foundation, the size they become is being limited.  Small bees are not always in the best interest of the colony.

With a TBH, the bees do all the work.  The Bee Removal 3hive consists of a manger looking box
with bars that rest along the top edges.  The bees naturally build comb-down from the bars and through this process create their own comb.  In my opinion, bees know what they need to survive.  As long as they have what they need, they will act accordingly.

After my many learning experiences and some failures, we have successfully11667404_1101785143169011_8353323096017631652_n
managed a TBH for two full seasons.  This is something not many bee keepers in our area of Ohio can say.  During 2015, our one surviving TBH has produced four splits and we removed a hive of bees from a local barn.  We are going into winter with six beehives, three in standard langstroth hives and three in top bar hives.  I am excited to have a side by side comparison of these two different types of hives for next spring.  At this point the TBH colonies all look much better than their langstroth counterparts.

Our Story – An Introduction to Woodhaven Place

Welcome to Woodhaven Place Homestead and Gardens. Our journey began Christmas week 2012 after spending three years reading about homesteading, practicing in our small urban back yard, and learning everything possible before actually moving forward.  Our vision was a small farm out in the country that fit our budget and location needs however a very different path was in store for our little homestead.

Capture

I grew up in a metropolitan area that still has some undeveloped land. One weekend, we attended an open house for a farm that I had driven past most of my life and the house turned out to be very run down and kind of frightening. During the open house, we began talking to another person walking around who was not actually looking for a farm, just curious to see the inside of the old farm house. We told her what kind of property we were looking for and to our surprise, she told us to follow her home! Her neighbor was going to list their 5 ½ acre property in the next few weeks.

Clearing Garden

This was the falling down barn we started out with. This was after we had taken down 8 dead trees around it.

Woodhaven Place is 5 ½ acres in the middle of the suburbs. Driving up to our home you would never know a working homestead is in the back. The property backs up to farm land on one side, suburban homes on three sides, and is hidden by a thick perimeter woods all around. After much work clearing overgrown brush and dead trees, we have approximately 3 acres in the middle for a garden. With huge evergreen and hardwood trees protecting our little homestead on all sides, it feels like being out in the middle of the country, however we are only 5 minutes away from the theater, shopping malls, all the city conveniences. We are so blessed to have found our dream property right in the middle of our family and friends.

Pallet Fence

The start of our recycled pallet fence.

Because we really are “urban homesteaders” we have a fantastic opportunity to expose farming, bee keeping, food preservation, and many other homestead skills to the surrounding community. We believe that we have been placed in the perfect position to do what we have always wanted, live a more self reliant life and show others how to do the same. Woodhaven Place has two main goals: provide the surrounding area with healthily local products and teach people why knowing their “farmer” is important. Woodhaven Place strives to help preserve a very special food heritage and teach lost farming skills to urban people. The property we live on was once used as a hobby farm, apple trees, wild red and black berries, overgrown grape arbors, and mulberry trees have all been uncovered and are being nursed back to productive health. We will love and care for Woodhaven Place with the goal of making a productive homestead that future generations can be proud to call their own.

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