Category Archives: Eco Honeybee News

Our New Custom Designed Bottom Board for 2016!

After several years of trail, error, and testing in our own yards, we’ve finally come up with a new design for our bottom board that we’ve had enough success with so as to be able to release it into all of our new client’s hives for the 2016 season.

You’ll notice that this new bottom board has only two small entrances, one on each side, for the bees to access the hive.  Additionally, these entrances are partially blocked by heavy duty screening.  What we’ve created here is a board board that doesn’t require the additional purchase of an entrance reducer or a, less than pretty, metal mouse guard.  Over the years, we’ve seen significant damage done to hives by mice up to and including the destruction of the colony itself when it is dormant and unable to react to the intrusion.  We’ve also been amazed at just how little space is needed to mice to get into a hive.  The small cut out in a standard entrance reducer won’t keep them out and they can get through a metal mouse guard by bending it.  This new design has solved the mouse issue in our own hives and nucs, is one piece, and doesn’t require additional items to be added to the hives.

Yes, this is a solid bottom board.  Yes, we know that a lot of people like using screens to keep hives cool in summer and so they can use sticky boards with grids printed on them so they can spend their evenings counting mites and parasites that theoretically drop through the screen onto the sticky board.   We’ve used both over the years and have opted to stick with the solid bottoms exclusively.  At Eco Honeybees, our views are this:  In regards to solid versus screened bottoms, first off, metal screens rust away over time and the bottoms are not that strong.  Secondly, we opt more for keeping the hive warm during the colder months than cool in the summer.  If the hive interior gets warm, the bees will happily hang out on the exterior of the hive.  And, lastly, while doing mite counts is nice, this works under the assumption that you can have a hive that is totally free from parasites.  We work from the other assumption end.  We assume that every hive has parasites to some degree and treat every one of our client’s hives as if they do.  A smart beekeepers who sees no mite or parasite evidence on a sticky board is still probably going to treat for them just to be safe.  We have the same view and therefore feel no need to do mite counts.

Old fashioned purists will also notice that we’ve done away with the traditional “landing zone” porch that has been pretty much standard back to the beginnings of the Langstroth hive. Please remember that porches are for people and a porch on a hive is there only for our own amusement.  While some might think the deletion of the front porch is heresy, quite frankly, the bees just don’t care.  Our Top Bar hives never had landing zones, and feral hives in trees or attics also don’t have them.  We know these bottom boards are very different from the norm but they work for us very well.  Most things Eco Honeybees does deviates from the norm!  We’ve been told that what we’ve been doing is the first substantial change to beekeeping in the past 120 years.  Beehives for non-beekeepers?  Unheard of!  Why should our bottom boards be any different?

Here are some photos of our new bottom board:

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Eco Honeybees to be on Al Jazeera Tuesday December 3, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.!

image.adapt.307.high.1386034804097Larry Marling from Eco Honeybees will be a featured guest on The Stream show on the new Al Jazeera network Tuesday December 3, 2013! Larry will be joining Jennifer Sass and Walter Thurman to discuss the causes and effects of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) on the nation’s beekeeping and agricultural world.

The link to the show’s information is http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/the-stream/the-latest/2013/12/3/buzz-kill.html

The Eco Beemobile

The Eco Bee Mobile

Many of our clients were pleasantly surprised this summer when we pulled up to their homes and businesses in a new (for us) vehicle we acquired for our business.

We’ve gotten many positive comments about it and also ones that congratulated us in picking a vehicle as downright weird as our business idea of bringing fully stocked custom beehives to residential homeowners.

After all, the choice of a 24-year old VW Vanagon is weird and it’s probably one of the only Vanagons being used for a business in the country.

So, are we trying to be different or was there a reason?

We spent a lot of time agonizing over what type of vehicle would be best suited for our business needs. One primary requirement was that we be able to transport hives, especially of the fragile Top Bar variety, safely and in a very gentle manner. And, because hives can get VERY heavy, we needed something with a low loading platform and very wide sliding door. An open pick up would have lost all the bees we miss that tend to hang onto the sides of a hive during transport. We also knew that we wanted to be able to do mobile honey extraction for our clients so we needed something with good working space and the ability to add an extra battery and power inverter for the extractor. We also require comfort, decent fuel economy, and something small enough to move around in the city.

Since Larry has been in the automotive industry for the past nine years he was scouring dealer auctions for months looking for the right vehicle. We considered everything from old ambulances, enclosed trailers, cargo vans, Subaru Wagons, to Ford Transit Connects. You might have seen us earlier in the year delivering hives in an elderly Mercedes Diesel wagon. We considered everything!

While we’d owned two vintage VW Westfalia Camper vans in the past, we didn’t think of them until an old VW buddy of Larry’s recommended considering them as an option. The non-pop top Weekender package gives us the open floor space we need to carry hives. They’re already set up for dual batteries and adding a power inverter was a snap. There’s plenty of space in the rear to carry tools, gear, jugs of feed, and all the other things we need on inspections. There’s even a fold down table on one wall to use as working space for paperwork.

Our good friend was able to find us a beautiful rare 1989 White Star edition with an automatic (for Karen), cold AC (for the bees in summer) that had been owned by a mechanic in the rural Maryland eastern shore area for the past 12 years. So far it’s worked out perfectly and the bees, the public, and we seem to love it!

We consider it a work in progress and we’re trying hard to get it professionally “wrapped” in advertising livery this autumn. Presently we’re using the smaller magnetic signage we had last year and we’ve found that those are still more than enough to get us approached by lots of interested individuals commenting on both our business and how odd it is to see one of these vehicles still on the road. Strangely enough it is D.C. United’s Barra Brava and Screaming Eagles fan club members that always come sniffing around for honey samples when they see it parked at R.F.K. for the pre-game lot parties at home games! Future plans are also in the works to convert it over to a more eco-friendly Diesel engine to double the fuel economy and make it run forever!

As soon as it gets it’s advertising face lift we’ll post more photos of it.

We’re in an odd sort of eccentric business. Suffice it to say, we should be driving around in a vehicle just as odd. It is most likely the only one in the country set up to do mobile honey extraction. And, needless to say, we’re as proud of the Bee Mobile as we are of the work we’re doing towards bringing bees back to the DC Metropolitan Area!