"Exploring the wonderful world of beekeeping together"
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(Last updated 03/07/2015)
Our purpose: to promote knowledge in modern beekeeping and improve marketing conditions.
Top Bar Hive Beekeeping?
Thinking about getting into Top-Bar Hive (TBH) beekeeping for our region in Northeastern Kansas? Look at our information further below on this page.
We are always happy to have new members join us for good beekeeping and good fellowship. Our meetings are regular and monthly.
See our meetings page.
NEKBA Financial Information
We raised $1,108.00 from December's annual meeting and auction. 100% of the auction proceeds are dedicated to the Scholarship Fund.
Thank you! With the generous funding from the association supporters, we are able to sponsor a teenager and their family an opportunity to experience and learn beekeeping in Kansas.
2014 has been another great year for accomplishing the goals of the association. We could not do it without membership support and generosity of many volunteers. Thank you!
December 2014 & YTD
NEKBA Reading Interest
It's fall with winter weather, obviously.
Are you and the bees ready for winter?
Here's a great article from Kelley's on "Putting your Bees to Bed for Winter".
A very good read for the season.
See some of our past NEKBA presentations at the bottom of our FUNDAY page. Topics include Biology, Honey Production, Diseases, and much more. Have a look! (click on the FUNDAY link and go to the bottom).
Association Documents Our
Constitution and By-Laws.
One of our committee projects for 2015 will be to review and revise our association Constitution and By-laws. Things change, and our guidelines should change as well to keep up with the times. Stay tuned for other association legacy and archive documents to be accessible here in the future.
Healthy Tips for Healthy Living Direct from the Bees
-- from Mary Janes Farm Magazine February/March 2009
Top-Bar Hive (TBH) Beekeeping:
While the interest in top-bar hive (Tanzanian, Kenyan, Warré) beekeeping seems to be growing, the NEKBA Board is NOT recommending this style of keeping bees to new beekeepers in our area for several reasons:
1) TB Hive management style requires higher skills and confidence
2) Not enough long-time beekeepers with TBH experience to mentor or support
3) Geography difficulty for TBH winter survival
4) 'Natural' bee movement is vertical
5) Limited winter honey storage
6) Honey harvesting comb destruction & replacement
7) Limited or restricted hive movement
8) Higher ROI with Langstroth hives (8 or 10-frame)
This beekeeping management style required for successful beekeeping with top-bar hives demands a higher level of skill and confidence from new beekeepers. We simply do not have enough long-time beekeepers with TBH experience to successfully mentor or give recommendations of support. The Langstroth hive has been around for over 150 years and is considered 'standard' equipment.
A few additional insights are outlined below:
Our geography can prove difficult for winter survival. The elongated horizontal configuration of the Tanzanian and Kenyan styled hives are not appropriate for our severe winters. During the cold, it is 'natural' for the bees to move up (vertically)-- not horizontally over on the combs. Without active management (moving frames) during the cold season, horizontal TBH beekeepers are at greater risk of losing their colonies to the cold and to starvation. Most years, we do not have sufficient enough warm days in January/February for the colony to graduate to combs full of stored honey when critically needed.
The horizontal TBH's only allow for about 20-25 pounds of honey. A TBH beekeeper will need to feed their bees each fall to give them a surviving chance in over-wintering. The Langstroth design allows for enough honey stores and space for natural, organic beekeeping, although, sometimes, we still have to feed our bees due to abnormal weather conditions such as heat and drought in the pre-ceeding season(s). The Warré hive needs 3 boxes to sustain the colony through our winters here in NE Kansas. 4 would be even better for the bees to have enough to over-winter without having to be fed.
Honey processing in TBH beekeeping is done by cutting the combs, then crushing and straining, which isn't the modern way to harvest honey.
Top-bar hives cannot easily be moved. The combs do not have the strength necessary to support them during any kind of travel. The combs are more susceptible to breakage and collapse on the road. If a beekeeper is small in stature or has a bad back or can't lift heavy things, then perhaps the 8-frame Langstroth hive would be a better consideration. The 8-frame hive is more of a 'garden-style' and is less bulky in size and weight than the 10-frame hive.
The Langstroth hive-style beekeeping is best for honey production. The association wants to promote an 'active' style of beekeeping and encourages 'active' management for honey production as well as wax, pollen, propolis, pollination and other uses of honey bee products.
Beekeepers want hives that can be easily manipulated, yet we also want to give our bees the best chance of growth, productivity, and year-to-year survival.
We want all beekeepers to have success and enjoyment and sustainability. We also believe our members should get a return on their investment. Too, we want proven practicality.
If you have been keeping TBH's for a while in our geographical area, AND have been successful, please contact us. We'd love to consider you for a presentation at one of our functions. We'd like to hear from you! Please contact us.
From our April 2012 Bee Buzzer, here is Dr. Chip Taylor's response to an inquiry from a beekeeper in Atchison, KS about top-bar hive beekeeping.
"I've worked with top bar in the tropics - marginal even there. Certainly not a way to produce honey or effectively manage bees. These hives are only slightly better than the wooden butterfly hibernation houses. In the latter case, the wood should be reused to make bat houses. Carol: Top-bar hives are the rage but are inappropriate for use at this latitude. Bees do not overwinter well in hives with this design. Standard beekeeping equipment is designed to allow bees to store honey and move up the way they do in natural nests.
My suggestion is that you get together with the folks from the NE Kansas Beekeepers Association. This group has many programs for beginners and you may find someone who can mentor you so that you can learn the basics of bee management. Frankly, I'd retire the top-bar hive and buy standard equipment."
We hope that you will take these factors into consideration when deciding what style of hive you choose to manage. It is our sincere desire to promote successful beekeeping for our geographical area and for the members of our community.