Cambridgeshire BKA talk by ITLD

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Into the lions den 

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Sorry folk are needing to unpick what I said so I will clarify the 40% statement.

When this difference arose it was specifically between Nationals...bottom bee space.....and Smiths..top bee space. There are a number of contributory factors.

1. The need to clean more with bottom bee space. This is NOT to do with squashing bees as such. We move bees a lot so parts taht sit snuggly have to do just that. The main issue is wax and detritus in the frame rest area. This needs cleaning out often both on the box and underside of the frame lugs to prevent the frames sitting high. ANY build up causes that as the tops are already flush with the top edge of the box. All burr comb and propolis build up also needs scraping off to ensure a good bee tight match between the box of frames and the crown board. With top bee space this is less critical and cleaning is far less commonly needed...only serioius chunks of sticking up burr comb become an issue.
2. Queen finding in the bottom box is more awkward. In Smith the hive is a simple single wall that matches perfectly with the floor and does not have any nooks and crannies for queens of 'mobile' types of bee to hide in. In under the rebate area at the front and back of the box to accommodate the long lugs are favourite hidey holes..
add these two factors together and you take a little bit of extra time per hive over a simple top bee space hive. To an amateur beekeeper it seems like nothing and probably that is the case, but if the team has to do 100 hives a day and the extra from these causes is even a minute per hive it adds up to a significant delay and cost.

then there is number 3.
For the same comb area as a Smith the boxes take up considerably more space. Depending on which truck we used it was either one or two less rows per load of boxes on the truck. It turned out to be quite often the difference between having enough boxes to complete the days work, and not being able to do so. Its very frustrating when you are 50 miles from home and at 3.30 in the afternoon you run out of kit, and the guys on Smiths are able to complete their day.

In migration we could get 28 Smiths on the flat on the mog but only 24 Nationals..double stacked that is 8 fewer on a heather run. Over a 21 day moving season that added up to 3 to 4 extra days of moving.

The 40% figure came from a combination of all these factors put together.

If you are small scale it will make no difference, use what you prefer.
On a big scale the National sucks...so we sold the lot of them. I have become convinced that the use of the National hive is actually somewhat of a limiting factor on viability of commercial outfits and suppresses their growth..

Then there are the costs involved in buying UK specialised gear.........simple single wall hives are an easy concept..the Smith is really nothing more than a Langstroth for UK size frames.......but the National is complex and costly, and other countries just dont get long lugs (neither do I), lots of small parts, and prewired foundation, as they add significant costs costs and build in fragility.

Not trying to assassinate the National hive, I know many think it the pinnacle of beekeeping, its just that in OUR specific circumstances it does not really work. By a proven and calculated out 40%.

(for those of a hairsplitting nature it is not calculated quite that way......you actually do about 40% MORE doing Smiths...so working backwards some would actually call that a lesser figure at 28%...do 100 Smiths or do approx 72 Nationals. Numbers that do not matter to 99% of UK beekeepers.
 

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Sorry folk are needing to unpick what I said so I will clarify the 40% statement.

When this difference arose it was specifically between Nationals...bottom bee space.....and Smiths..top bee space. There are a number of contributory factors.
Thank-you for taking the time to give such a comprehensive answer and for taking into account the differences between commercial needs and those small-time amateurs such as me; you are definitely exceptional amongst commercial beekeepers. :)
 

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How many do you know?
Have I got it wrong in thinking that there are a few commercial beekeepers who post on this forum and on other media platforms? I'm assuming you don't disagree with my opinion of ITLD? I don't know any commercial beekeepers any better than I know you. But I have been given sufficient clues about the attitudes of most beekeepers of all descriptions who post things regularly online, to know which ones are good and which ones are exceptional. :) There is another one whom I admire, who I also don't know, and that's "Hi, I'm Laurence Edwards from Black Mountain Honey." ;)
 

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Have I got it wrong in thinking that there are a few commercial beekeepers who post on this forum and on other media platforms? I'm assuming you don't disagree with my opinion of ITLD? I don't know any commercial beekeepers any better than I know you. But I have been given sufficient clues about the attitudes of most beekeepers of all descriptions who post things regularly online, to know which ones are good and which ones are exceptional. :) There is another one whom I admire, who I also don't know, and that's "Hi, I'm Laurence Edwards from Black Mountain Honey." ;)
My point is that MOST are decent folk who have great respect for their livestock and treat them and their staff well. If you don’t look after both you don’t have a business
There seems to be such antipathy towards “greedy commercials” not so much here ( though there used to be) but more on social media.
That’s not to detract from Murray’s generosity here. He has a thicker skin than a lot of other bee farmers who don’t post any more in the face of past Hobby scorn.
 

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My point is that MOST are decent folk who have great respect for their livestock and treat them and their staff well. If you don’t look after both you don’t have a business
There seems to be such antipathy towards “greedy commercials” not so much here ( though there used to be) but more on social media.
That’s not to detract from Murray’s generosity here. He has a thicker skin than a lot of other bee farmers who don’t post any more in the face of past Hobby scorn.
I certainly wouldn't have and wasn't having the audacity and disrespect to say or imply that all commercial beekeepers aren't decent folk......they all know much more than me about bees and I know very little about them as people. But whenever I see a post by @Into the lions den I know it will be generously given, exceptionally detailed, enlightening, balanced and deserving of great respect.
 

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antipathy towards “greedy commercials”
I've met and worked with a few beefarmers (c100 stocks) and none fit that description.

Some amateurs imagine there's a Berlin Wall between beefarmers and amateurs, but that's negative and innaccurate wishful thinking.

We probably started with one colony and just got carried away; despite that different vision, principles of respectful livestock management still apply.

Amateurs can benefit from beefarmer short cuts born of experience and expediency, but they must be willing to give up old ways and embrace the new.
 

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To be fair I read @Beebe's comment as nothing but complimentary to ITLD while not actually being derogatory of other be farmers. He was simply pointing out that ITLD's posts are very informative, in the sense that a lot of others aren't. I'm sure he was commenting on the open transmission of knowledge and if that is the case then I'm with him on this one. Being a good caring bee farmer in itself doesn't necessarily endow a person with the ability to transmit knowledge in a concise understandable manner.
 

Into the lions den 

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I have never considered that beekeepers of different scales are on different sides of a fence (at least not just because of scale). There are other factors that crop up that divide beekeepers very starkly, but there are both amateurs and professionals on both sides of those divides albeit there are very few professionals who go down the currently fashionable routes of seeing a return for your time or investments as something to be looked down on.

The very best...and very worst.....of beekeepers I have seen are in the amateur sector. We are a community stretched out along a scale from tiny to relatively huge (there are no truly large outfits in the UK, self included). Most started small or were born into an outfit that started small. Due to issues of climate and forage almost all UK bee farms use methods that actually stem from the same basics as the small. We are all essentially amateur derived. The circumstances of trying to deal with a short season, uncertain weather, and sporadic flows dictate most of the things we have to do. Its the same for almost all beekeepers and scale is irrelevant...on a per colony basis it is exactly the same principles. The larger scale outfits just have had the ambition and drive, the ability to withstand hardship, and the opportunities others may not have had. We are very very lucky to be doing what we do.

As for a 'greedy commercial beekeeper'...and I have had that slur aimed at me many times (hide like a rhino)..a greedy person is not doing the basics right. It is...on whatever scale...an animal husbandry matter..and someone who makes all their decisions based on greed will find the bees suffer for it. Suffering bees are not going to do well, so the greedy or neglectful are not going to be successful. A greedy beekeeper (no actual need to insert commercial as an extra term of denigration) is not likely to be around very long. If it counts as greedy to maximise the bee health and management, and provide them with good forage...and thus take more honey...then I suppose I am greedy....but it is getting the BEES right that generates the honey, not rapacious management styles. Reward them and they reward you, its symbiosis. I could go on about why some resort to the 'greedy' slur as a weapon of choice but no need for opening that can of worms here.

All sections of the beekeeping community have a similar spectrum of types, from the insular and hostile who keep everything to themselves, through the generous and helpful, to the opinionated 'big dogs' that all associations (inc BFA) suffer from the presence of and who are often the first to get hold of and indoctrinate beginners. When I was in the BFA chair I stressed that we had to be a broad church,, members of all types and beliefs welcome.....and I think the bee community in general is just such a thing. The vast majority are kind tolerant people prepared to share their information with others. Sometimes tetchy (but its hard not to be when you answer the same question 30 times).

Beware the zealots...they often have other agendas in hand rather than just helping you to be a better beekeeper.
 

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Hi Murray - I thoroughly enjoyed your talk, and your in-depth posts on this forum, many thanks.
A couple of questions if I may - varroa wasn't discussed in much detail - what treatment regime do you use and do you find any problems with not being able to treat until after you've taken the heather crop in early Sept.?
Also, I think you mentioned that Jolantas queens are Carnica based, but BMH seems to suggest they are Buckfast or have I misunderstood?
 

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Hi Murray - I thoroughly enjoyed your talk, and your in-depth posts on this forum, many thanks.
A couple of questions if I may - varroa wasn't discussed in much detail - what treatment regime do you use and do you find any problems with not being able to treat until after you've taken the heather crop in early Sept.?
Also, I think you mentioned that Jolantas queens are Carnica based, but BMH seems to suggest they are Buckfast or have I misunderstood?
Have look at BMH's website. He explains his queens there
 

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Somehow it's escalated to seven.
To be fair I read @Beebe's comment as nothing but complimentary to ITLD while not actually being derogatory of other be farmers. He was simply pointing out that ITLD's posts are very informative, in the sense that a lot of others aren't. I'm sure he was commenting on the open transmission of knowledge and if that is the case then I'm with him on this one. Being a good caring bee farmer in itself doesn't necessarily endow a person with the ability to transmit knowledge in a concise understandable manner.
Thank-you for seeing a positive as intended.....exceptional doesn't have to mean, "being the exception."
 

elainemary 

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It's rare for this to be the case.

Top bars - poly, new or old wood - usually sit below the rim by a few mill. This is either by contraction, poor assembly or historic instructions.

For example, Thorne box assembly measurements result in top bars below the rim. To accommodate metal ends on top bars? As so few people use ends these days, why persist with this misleading measurement?

Correct beespace would result if boxes set frames flush, but this doesn't happen in the real world of variability and so the ends of top bars are glued to the box above.

You had that sinking feeling when lifting a box to discover the frames below are glued to it? Guaranteed to irritate bees and waste time and sweat.

If you think BBS National is bad, try mixing in unmodified BBS Nationals, which have no rebate at the base of the box to give beespace. At least thirty mill of box wall will be glued to the top bar below.

They're lovely old EH Taylor boxes, at least 60 years old, but they've got to go.
Yes definitely had that sinking feeling, usually from supers sticking to frames below & having to prise them free.
 

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LOL Dani..its get a lot more cringe provoking than that. Seriously had one person on here wanting to collate all my Forum posts and publish them.....holy moly....just NO.
I get the impression that many beekeeping books have been written by less reliable sources than you. :)
 

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H
Since bee-boxes most frequently don't have the requirement for an excluder to be placed above them, that logic seems flawed.
Assumng that in any given situation, bees are just as likely to propolise or make burr-comb on the top bars of any hive format, any squishing potential must be equal between top or bottom bee-space.
Wouldn't any action which provides an additional void increasing space above frames be counterproductive, as it will encourage an increase in the production of surplus wax or propolis.
My WBCs boxes are bottom bee space and frames sit fairly flush with the top of the box. Having the space the rim gives, allows the bees much more freedom of movement across the frames (some think this type helps with ventilation in summer too as air as well as bees can move between the top bars and the excluder). Definitely means less bees are touched by the excluder when placing on top vs a flat metal or plastic one. You can add with just 4 touch points then twist into place, meaning very few bees are touched. Get a bit of brace comb building but not a huge amount, easily manageable. Def prefer to rimless Q/Es.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Thank-you for taking the time to give such a comprehensive answer and for taking into account the differences between commercial needs and those small-time amateurs such as me; you are definitely exceptional amongst commercial beekeepers. :)
.....exceptional doesn't have to mean, "being the exception."
No it doesn't but following it with amongst...........does imply that others aren't.
I wasn't defending Murray I was simply pointing out that he certainly is exceptional but not an exception;)
 

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