What is beecentric/apicentric beekeeping?
The terms beecentric and apicentric mean putting honeybees (Apis mellifera) first. Apicentric beekeeping is an approach to beekeeping that first and foremost focusses on the needs and natural behavior of bees. The ultimate goal is that happy, healthy bees are the most productive bees. Here’s a post I put together on the various aspect of the Beecentric Hive called “What Is The Beecentric Hive?”
What are some examples of apicentric beekeeping practices?
An apicentric practice any practice that works with the natural behavior of the honeybees. Apicentric practices can include (but are not limited to):
- over-wintering honeybees on their one honey.
- using natural foundation and cell size.
- allowing bees to control their own ventilation via a Warre top-quilt.
- using local genetics.
- using beehives that are easy to manage and work with honeybee behavior.
- managing the hive in a way that mimics natural hive structure.
How does the Beecentric Hive “work with” bees?
The beecentric hive is modeled after the honeybee’s natural habitat; a hollow tree trunk (bees live in trees). Originally inspired by the Warre hive, the apicentric hive is made of 8 frames boxes. The number of frames in a box is important as the width of the hive should not exceed the width of the over-wintering cluster of bees. Narrower boxes are easier for the bees to heat and prevent winter starvation by encouraging the bees to access honey stores directly above them (parallel comb makes it very difficult for bees to move between frames within a hive).
By only using medium boxes, the beecentric hive is easy to manage and more versatile than using deep brood boxes and shallow supers. Filled with honey, each box weighs between 45 and 50lbs. There is no need for a queen excluder (though, nothing about the hive would prevent you from using one) as honey is the brood chamber can be transferred up (or brood down). When making splits, a common size of the box is a must. Simply transfer brood, pollen, and some frames of honey from an established hive into an empty hive box. No need to worry about mismatched frame and box sizes. Everything is consistent.
Screened bottom boards and Warre top-quilt ensure a proper balance between ventilation and insulation. The screened top-quilt is loosely filled with straw or wood chips. As warm, moist air rises, it is allowed to slowly travel through the top-quilt and exit through the vented roof. Unlike traditional solid inner covered, the top-quilt prevents condensation. This feature is especially important for the over-wintering success of your colony.
How does the Beecentric Hive compare to Warre and Langstroth hives?
The Beecentric Hive is a modified Warre hive that uses standard medium Langstroth frames OR (if you prefer) is an 8 frame medium Langstroth hives (sometimes called an Illinois Hive) with a screened bottom board and Warre top-quilt and roof. Either way, the Beecentric hive strikes a perfect balance between Warre’s bee-centered approach and the versatility and accessibility of a commercial Langstroth.
Does the Beecentric Hive use top-bars (TBH) or frames?
The Beecentric hive uses standard Langstroth frames. Here’s why:
Warre used top-bars is his original hive design and they worked great, though, the bees inevitably fasten them to the sides of the box. Unfortunately, when the comb becomes fastened, it can’t be removed for inspection. In contract, Langstroth frames are four-sided and allow the bees to attach the comb to the frame (opposed to the sides of the box). As a result, Langstroth frames can easily be removed, inspected, harvested, swapped between boxes (or hives: splits, etc). For the top bar hive enthusiast, it’s important to remember that foundationless frames are top-bars with sides and a bottom.
Does the Beecentric Hive use foundation?
As the Beecentric hive uses langstroth frames, the frames can be used with or without foundation. Though the choice is entirely up to you we have had good success going foundationless.
Does the Beecentric Hive need/use a queen excluder?
No. A queen excluder is not needed to manage the beecentric hive. The queen naturally wants to keep the brood nest at the base of the hive. To encourage this, empty supers can be added to the bottom of the hive (nadiring) to encourage her to move down instead of up. When in a honey-flow, supers can be added to the top to encourage the placement of honey. Should the colony ever place honey in the brood chamber or brood in the honey chamber, individual frames can easily be moved as needed (made possible by the fact that the brood and honey frames are the same). That being said, the hive is completely compatible with commercially available 8 frame queen excluders.
Is the Beecentric Hive compatible with the Flow Hive?
Yes. The Beecentric and Flow hives are 100% compatible. This means that you can add a Flow Hive box to the top of a Beecentric hive without issue. For my take on Flow Hives, how not to break them bank, and how they can use them with the Beecentric Hive, check out this post: Using A Flow Hive Super With A Beecentric Hive.
What does the Beecentic Hive come with?
When you purchase a beecentric hive, it will come with:
- 3 eight-frame, medium hive boxes (used for brood and honey)
- 1 Warre top-quilt
- 1 Warre roof
- 1 IPM screened bottom board with plastic insert
- 2 mobile entrances
- 2 entrance reducers (of two different sizes)
Does the Beecentric hive ship?
Presently, the Beecentric hive is only available for pickup in Edmonton, Alberta. Though we are looking into the logistics of packaging and shipping. We will keep you posted. If you’re interested in having a hive shipped to you, please let us know.
When will my hive be available?
Hive orders are taken in the Summer and Fall and available for pickup in early Spring (March-April) of the following year.