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1597Top Bar Hives and the State of Florida

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  • John Missing
    Apr 8, 2009
      I have been interested in beekeeping for ages, but never got the
      opportunity to follow up on it until recently. My sister decided that we
      needed to do something about the lack of pollinators in her garden.
      However, she is very allergic to bee stings. Therefore it would fall to
      me to be the actually beekeeper, both at her home and at mine. To that
      end I started attending meetings of our local beekeepers association and
      read a lot. I even went out to the association's bee yard several times
      to learn hands on in addition to attending seminars.
      Lack of funds for our first hive in addition to a battle with cancer has
      further delayed my start in beekeeping. From all my reading and because
      we try to do everything organically in our gardening, I want to use top
      bar hives. Furthermore they seem to be “bee-centric” which is more in
      keeping with my beliefs as a Buddhist, regarding even bees as sentient
      beings toward whom we should show compassion.
      Nature has presented us with the opportunity to have our first colony of
      bees, in that a swarm has taken up residence in a hollow section of my
      sister's oak tree. I guess they could be left there to be pollinators,
      except for my sister's allergy. She needs their home to be away from
      areas of the yard where she needs to work. Furthermore, there is also
      the risk that the dead part of the tree will fall in a storm. I have
      thoroughly researched and planned the steps safely, for me and the bees,
      to get them from the tree and into a hive. We were lucky enough to have
      won a kit for a Langstroth super as a door prize at a beekeepers
      meeting, although I really want to use one of the top bar designs.
      My problem is that I live in Central Florida and the Florida Department
      of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry, Bureau
      of Plant and Apiary Inspection seems dead set against anything but
      Langstroth hives. Although I can't find anything in the rules and
      regulations that specifies the type of hive, their “model ordinance” for
      counties and municipalities does specify only Langstroth hives.
      Nevertheless, I have spoken directly to a couple of the inspectors who
      cover this area. They have told me that they really don't care what
      style of hive as long as they can be opened and the comb taken out for
      inspection.
      Probably next week when the few remaining things that I need have
      arrived and a helper is available, I will start the process of
      persuading the bees to move from their hollow in the tree into my hive.
      This of course means that I will be starting them out in a Langstroth
      hive. My questions are: 1) Can I use the Langstroth boxes, but use top
      bars instead of frames? 2) If I am doing that, can I manage them like a
      Warre hive, adding boxes to the bottom rather than the top? 3) Will the
      State of Florida let me not use a queen excluder? And 4) How can I
      strengthen the comb on a top bar in order that they can be handled for
      inspection?
      I look forward to learning more.

      --
      Namaste,
      John (Konchok Jangchup Dorje ) Missing
      (sacred.circle@... OR bishopjohnc@...)
      Don't just do something, sit!
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