Our 2018 Homesteading Resolution is:
To build an apiary and become a bee-keeper using the Slovenian Hive
This year establishing an apiary is our top priority. I couldn't be more excited. As an avid gardener with organic pastures, fields, food & flowers its a perfect fit for our homestead. It also feels good to help increase the bee population: they need all the help they can get these days. I've been dreaming of an apiary for as long as I can remember. Our plan isn't conventional though and it's going to be a challenge!
In preparing to become a bee keeper I have read books, joined forums and talked to bee keepers. The more I learn, the more I want to know. I find them fascinating. When taking on any big project, my husband and I take time to research and plan. This often leads us down less conventional or old fashioned paths. Often the methods that appeal to us are not mainstream and our plans for the apiary are no different.
Our first round of research lead us down the path of almost buying a Warre Bee Hive business. I was at the point of choosing between building our own Warre hive or buying one. The company that made the design I wanted went up for sale. Unfortunately, tools bought, contracts drawn and two days before the hand over, he changed his mind. It was really disappointing but it turned out to be a blessing.
I continued reading about bees and became interested in the different methods that other countries use. Finally I had that ah-ha moment when it all came together in my head and I knew what we should do. I had discovered the Slovenian AZ Hive.
The Slovenian Hive
The Slovenian hives can be stacked together like blocks, and they are accessed from the back. This makes it easy to encase them in a special shelter or building. The enclosed bee building often has a work station on the back side and a bee entrance on the front. With the most elaborate designs, you can tend to the bees, keep your equipment and extract the honey all in one location. If you want you can design it so the work space is indoors, meaning you can work on the hives regardless of the weather.
The Slovenian hive prevents the need for heavy lifting because the hive is worked on from the rear. Working on the hives is less intrusive to the bees and the building can be large and elaborate or simply built on a trailer to make it mobile. The Slovenian Hive offers more insulation, protection and flexibility when compared to standard hive designs.
Here is a PDF from the Scottish Beekeeper Association that walks you through the design.
We have a lot of things to work on in order to achieve this goal. The Slovenian hives aren't something that I can just "go and buy" and even the bees can be tricky to get around here. Here is the general outline of steps to be taken to achieve our goals:
Creating a Budget
We have no budget. One must be built.
Sourcing bees in New Brunswick can be a challenge. There is a lot of regulation and limited supply each year for new bee keepers. We have learned of an Amish family near us that keeps bees. They are also organic/all natural in their food production so that matches our own lifestyle and desires. We are going to write them a letter and try to set up a meeting! I would really appreciate having some open minded local "support" as we get started. We need someone who isn't set in the "standard way" of keeping bees.
Drawing up the design, sourcing materials and building the structure that the hives will be stored in
There are plenty of different versions of the Slovenian "bee house" or the housing that the hives are place inside of. Some are large buildings and others are simple structures that can sit on a trailer for easy relocation. I would like to connect with Brian Drebbers of "AZ Bee House" located in Georgia, USA. His video really inspired me to pursue this idea further. You can find his video here
Sourcing material and building the Slovenian Beehives
I've seen pricing on-line for the Drebbieville hive for $450 USD each. DIY Plans can also be found on-line but I've read that finding the metal parts needed to make it all work can be difficult. I have found an on-line group that's really focused on building the hives. They seem to be collaborating really well and some have had those metal spacers fabricated. We aren't 'fine' carpenters by even the most generous stretch of the imagination, so we are going to dig deeply into our options for buying these, partnering with someone to fabricate them or maybe we'll just get the tool belts on and figure it out ourselves.
Pricing / Materials list / Ordering
- February/ March
- April/May (once the snow is gone)
Keith's Honey Shack
My great Uncle Keith is a big source of encouragement for this project. We'll be naming the building "Keith's Honey Shack" to thank him.
Happy 2018 Homestead Planning Everyone!