A long, long time ago my husband Graham and I became beekeepers. Then it all got too hard, we were moving overseas, and and we sold the hive. About twenty years later, we started again. A swarm landed on our property and we hived it. But after three or four months the bees became aggressive, and as we were about to move out of the area we gave them to someone who thought he could handle them. We gave away our bee suits and turned our backs on beekeeping.
Now we have a new colony in our garden, and we are no longer beekeepers, but bee hosts. When Covid 19 settled in to dominate world affairs last year, we focused inwards and did a lot of reading. We read about the desperate plight of bees all over the world; about the vital role they play in pollinating our food; and about the heartless poisoning of bees that continues in so many countries in the name of economic farming. We began to realise that the reason why we had been so uncomfortable with beekeeping in our previous efforts was that the Langstroth method is not ideal, either for the bees or for humans. It is designed for commercial beekeeping, to produce the maximum amount of honey with the minimum of human effort. Actually it involves a lot of human effort, and it can be very uncomfortable for the bees.
Graham decided that the only way he could be comfortable with hosting bees was to build his own custom hive. And he discovered that the best hive for bees is not the Langstroth, but the Layens hive. This hive was devised by Frenchman Georges de Layens as a modification to Langstroth’s hive, which was patented in 1852.
I am keeping a blog recording our latest exploits as bee hosts. The first post can be found here.