The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Michael Bush's beekeeping methods

Uniform box sizeSo what does Michael Bush's apiary look like?  In some ways it's quite traditional --- he mostly uses Langstroth hives and equipment from mainstream beekeeping companies.  However, he has made a few changes:

Michael Bush's goal is two-pronged --- he wants to raise bees that don't need chemicals to stay alive, and he wants his apiary to be as little work as possible.  Those sound like laudable permaculture ambitions to me.

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This post is part of our The Practical Beekeeper lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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So, these foundationless frames, are they a full frame? You know, top, 2 sides and bottom? Or are just a top bar?
Comment by Fritz Wed Feb 8 14:04:13 2012
With an entrance on the top of the hive, and attempting to pursue as natural a method as possible - I'm excluding he doesn't use queen excluders. With foundationless frames though does he have any issues with brood being interspersed in his honey frames?
Comment by Jono Wed Feb 8 16:53:14 2012

Fritz --- Michael Bush started out using mainstream Langstroth methods and equipment, so he's retrofitting that to work with his natural methods. As a result, his frames are generally full frames, but you can use the same techniques with just top bars. (You can read more of his foundationless frame info at

Jono --- I should have mentioned that, but going without excluders is almost mainstream, so I forgot. :-) Yes, he skips the excluders and has no problems. Since his boxes are all mediums, it's a simple matter of moving frames around if the queen starts laying where he doesn't want her to. I never had any problem with it even using both deeps and shallows in previous years, but I was also trying to get my bees to have a large brood chamber, so I gave them two deeps.

Bush did mention in his book that at the end of the winter, the bees often end up at the top of his hive, but he didn't have any problem with that.

Comment by anna Wed Feb 8 18:20:41 2012

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