Bottomless Beekeeping

Bottomless Beekeeping! from Phil Chandler on Vimeo.

The top bar hive in the video is a pattern known as a 'Kenyan Top Bar Hive', which means that is has sloping sides, forming a open 'V' shape but with a flat bottom. The floor is usually covered, either with mesh or wood, but this particular hive is bottomless, as part of an experiment to find the best conditions in which bees can thrive and look after their own needs, with minimal interference.

These bees are well into their second season in a bottomless hive, and appear to be quite happy and healthy.

This is not a practice I would recommend to beginners, but it does show that - at least in a mild climate - bees can get by with relatively little in the way of creature comforts. While the bottom of the hive is open, the top is effectively sealed and thus moisture-laden, stale air moves down the sides and out the bottom, drawing fresh air up through the middle. Because there is no 'chimney' effect, as there would be if there was top ventilation, this process happens slowly and does not cause disturbing draughts for the bees.

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"For the bee, honey is the ultimate reality. It represents the fulfillment of her life mission, the triumph over her enemies, the continuity of the hive, the justification for working herself to death. Honey is to bees what money in the bank is to people—a measure of prosperity and well-being. But there is nothing abstract or symbolic about honey, as there is about money, which has no intrinsic value. There is more real wealth in a pound of honey, or a load of manure for that matter, than all the currency in the world. We often destroy the world's real wealth to create an illusion of wealth, confusing symbol and substance."
Wm. Longgood, The Queen Must Die

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