Shortly after picking up my first two hives in 2010 I was notified of some bees living in a whiskey barrel located in brush pile that was days from being burnt. I had no clue what I was doing, but with the help of my wife and father, I hived the bees that have driven me to the point of starting this blog. Affectionately known in my household as the “Gerald Hive”. There was something very different about this colony.
I wondered why this hive seemed to be more robust than the colonies that had come from packages. I had read extensively from books and bee journals prior to getting started. My question was how could this colony be surviving and thriving with no one getting into the hive to check brood patterns, do mite treatments, and provide supplemental feeding? Everything I had read up to that point told me this could not be. I began to question everything.
Once I moved the hive to its stand I only opened it once in June to place 3 shallow supers on top. I then opened it on 8/22 to take the FULL supers off. I did not arrange combs for them to go through the winter, treat them, or feed them. Fast forward to the spring of 2011 and the Gerald Hive was still humming along. It came through the winter covering six frames. How could this be?
I decided to begin an experiment. Allowing the bees living in my boxes to find their own way. Keeping my interference to a minimum. Interference to me includes feeding, swarm suppression, arranging frames for winter, frequent moving of hives, and opening the hive for no good reason other than my own morbid curiosity. I will allow inferior colonies to expire, and let superior ones propagate. Whatever will bee will bee.