Your Beekeeping Questions Answered

Got a beekeeping conundrum? Wondering about how to get started? Want to keep bees the natural way? There’s an easy answer. Google your question with “Michael Bush.” Michael Bush maintains an encyclopedic website devoted to all-natural treatment-free beekeeping at And the folks at HoneyLove have shot a series of videos with Bush.

Bush’s advice is well outside mainstream beekeeping. Given the spectacular failures of the big beekeepers in recent years, I think it’s time well past time to look at alternatives.

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  1. Wow, I never knew there were so many other organisms in and around hives that were just part of the process of making honey. I suppose I learned more useful information from those short few minutes than I ever have about bees. Of course, there are no bees here, but I follow news of bee health.

  2. I love Michael Bush—he is my bee guru. He is incredibly generous with his time, and is a frequent contributor to the organic beekeepers yahoo list. I am really looking forward to these videos.

  3. This was a very informative video! Who knew all of that? I have been thinking about eventually having bees but need to know more about them. How often do you have to ‘harvest’ the honey and what happens when you don’t? Do they leave and go elsewhere? And where do you keep the hives? I am thinking that my neighbors might freak out but since I have to put up with all their barking dogs, I think they would have to get used to it. Is this allowed in most cities or is it a ‘grey area’? Maybe you could do an informative pod cast on this as I am very interested. Thanks!

    • I got chickens without asking. But, later I found out they are not allowed. But, Animal Control said they would not bother my hens. But, when I mentioned bees, he said absolutely “NO, no bees,” that he would come kill them because they are dangerous. I didn’t argue, but I think if I had gotten a hive and put them on the side of the house where there is no neighbor, no one would have been the wiser. While I did not argue, I totally agreed with him so he would not come around checking on me. Nope, not getting bees here.

    • Hey Morninglory,
      I’m conservative about harvesting honey. It is their food, so you need to make sure to leave plenty for them to make it through periods of the year where nothing is blooming (winter in the north and summer in the south US). The legality varies from place to place. I keep my hives off-site right now but there are folks in the neighborhood with bees. Just keep them out of paths and you’ll be fine. You’ll never know they are there. And, yes, we need to have our bee mentor Kirk Anderson on the podcast.

  4. thanks for the post, great video that brings up a few comment / questions:

    not treating is definitely out of the mainstream and I like alot of his arguments for not treating, they seem to make sense on a certain level.

    but here’s a question: would you deny your sick child medicine if s/he’s sick for the sake of improving her/his chances of survival in the future?

    here’s another: when I’m very very sick (eg bronchitis or syphilis ) or had a surgery I take antibiotics. my life may depend on it. sure flora and fauna in my gut are wrecked for a bit but it recovers. wouldn’t this be the case for bee colony or the flora/fauna coexisting with it (that it soon recover if ‘medicine’ is properly applied)? and if it didn’t recover and died, well then that is good too because we’re looking for a set of bees (or microbes) with the genes that allow it to recover after a disturbance (we want resilient bees, no?).

    One last one, on your hive preferences (I see Michael Bush with a top bar in the background): Langstroth vs Top Bar. or Langstroth without foundation (and allow the bees to build out their own comb) vs Top Bar. your thoughts on bee health, yields, pollination, ethics, etc regarding these options, if you will.

    Thanks much for the great post and overall great blog!!

    • Hey SDD,
      It’s an interesting question. Commercial beekeepers are propping up bad stock for short term gain. I think Bush would say that we have to accept losses for the long term health of the species. We wouldn’t do that with children, of course. Maybe the question is to what extent do we have a responsibility to the consciousness of an individual hive vs. the group consciousness of bees as a species. This is where I think the analogy is different than with humans. You might be able to make an analogy to the overuse of antibiotics with humans or hormones with other livestock.

      As to hive preference, all I know about is Langstroth without foundation. I’ve never worked with top bar hives. I think it may be a matter of context. They both have pros and cons. One thing for sure is that Langsthroth hives are HEAVY! Do you have any thoughts on Lang vs. top bar?

    • thoughts on Lang v Top Bar:
      i’ve only used a Lang with plastic foundation. but am curious about not using plastic foundation. i hear allowing bees to build out their own comb is better for varroa mite control, and with regard to extraction, there is no need for the centrifuge.

      the other consideration is hive start up cost. i havent priced a top bar but a basic langstroth set up will run about $250, no?

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