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Ian Rumsey

Beekeeping - Pure and Simple

Chapter 1

We See


My friend the bee, what do you see,

Beyond your own domain?


We see the dark clouds in the West,

Around about Bude Bay,

Resistant  mites, with appetites,

Are coming up our way.


We see our Keepers almost slain,

Upon their knees in utmost pain,

They cannot help us any more,

We must return to nature’s law.


We see with eyes you cannot see,

Our feral sisters hold the key,

The secrets lay within our home,

Designed by us in natural comb.



The Hive

The hive consists of an inner and an outer body. The inner body is constructed with 1/4 inch thick material and comprises of square boxes  6 inches deep, without top or bottom, with an internal dimension of 9 inches.  One side of each box is made of a transparent material. (Fig 1 refers).

The outer body is made of 1 inch thick material but in this case  the boxes have an external dimension of 14 inches. (Fig 2 refers). The base section of the outer hive is modified to include 2 cross pieces to support the inner hive, and one side of the base is removable to allow the floor to be inspected. (Fig 3 refers).


Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3


The inner hive is mounted upon this base and comprises of 5 inner sections placed upon each other, one section being provided with an entrance hole. A 10 inch square board is placed on top to form the roof of the inner hive. (Fig 4 refers) .

A similar number of outer sections are now placed over the inner hive with one section also being provided with an entrance. An 18 inch square board is placed on top to form a roof. (Fig 5 refers).      


Fig. 4 Fig. 5


A swarm is placed within the inner hive and allowed to develop naturally. Observations may be made by removing upper sections of the outer hive.

Approximately  2 years are allowed to pass.

By removing the outer hive the position of the clustering bees may be observed. (Fig 6 refers).


The colony is then 'topped and tailed' with the use of a cheese wire, and the portion containing  the cluster placed upon empty inner hive sections. (Figs 7 and 8 refer).

The outer hive sections are replaced and another year is allowed to elapse.


Fig. 6 Fig. 7 Fig. 8

All pathogens, pests and parasites are present but below treatment threshold levels.

The Explanation


The following factors are considered to be detrimental to varroa.


(1). Shape and position of the brood nest.


(2). Comb shape, cell size, and cell orientation.


(3). Absence of queen excluder.


(4). Absence of supplementary feeding.


(5). Position of entrance.


(6). Substantial space available beneath the comb.



The following points are considered to be of benefit to the bee.


(1). Manufacture and use of natural comb for brood each year.


(2). Absence of manipulation and inspection.


(3). Absence of any need to introduce foreign substances.



The items above are sufficient to allow bees to control the varroa population to a level where both host and parasite may

live and prosper together.

We have defeated an enemy by making him our friend.

It is suggested that beekeepers should provide these conditions which permit bees to exercise their instincts or innate knowledge to the fullest extent without constraint or hindrance.


With Author's permission.

Fom ApisUK, May 2005, Editor David Cramp

Author's note: "Beekeeping Pure and Simple" is just an idea, and it is up to the individual
to modify it to their own conditions as they think fit.