Up until recently the beekeeping industry had a “one size fits all” beehive: a commercially sized beehive that everyone had to use and learn with, without any thought of the needs of the aspiring beekeeper.
Needs for individual aspiring beekeepers vary and include age restrictions, weight limitations, area availability, pollination gardens solely for beauty, apitherapy, gardeners with pollination needs, those wanting to dabble in a new hobby but are on the fence, and the list goes on. There are many reasons to keep bees but only one hive was available, a huge massively packed box with almost 10,000 bees initially.
Learning to care for bees is also daunting with high failure rates. New beekeepers are often left to themselves and must seek out help through clubs, online social media, and neighborhood associations. Sharing bees on frames among beekeepers is virtually unheard of with a survival of the fittest mentality. “It is your hive and this is my hive”, and “I’ll teach you but that is as far as it goes.”
The Mini Urban Beehive system has changed everything.
- The hive radiates beauty and is well built. It is securely held together and is very durable.
- It is considerably smaller than a traditional hive, at 1/4 the size. The footprint is exactly a 1/4 of the size of a traditional hive. These small hives are similar in size to the tree cavities where bees have lived for the last 30 million years.
- There are proportionally fewer bees in a smaller hive than in a traditional hive. This makes them less intimidating.
- The focus of the smaller hive begins with rearing a new queen and or making splits. This activity focuses on an abundance of nurse bees. These young bees and colony’s purpose is to create a sustainable colony, so the bees end up being passive. This is a welcomed trait for the beginning beekeeper.
- The new beekeeper may fail repeatedly, as is the case in the larger equipment, but with the smaller colony and frame replacement open brood (babies) or young bees can be obtained throughout the season. This allows for the new beekeeper to learn repeatedly from multiple errors.
- No expense harvesting is another feature. When a frame is capped with honey it is removed. This gives the bees more area to work and allows the bees to have a continuous cycle of growth. During the season bees are usually docile and so removing honey is not a daunting task. In fall when the bees are more defensive the honey stores are left for wintering the colony.
- Harvesting is easy and promotes an all natural honey with no mess. When a frame is ready it is removed. Then it is cut from the frame and squished and left until the honey and wax separate. Simple inexpensive strainers can also be used, or a baggy with a toothpick sized hole can be used.
- Wintering a small colony is also unique, as you can move them to less frigid locations that are dark and below 40 degrees but above freezing. A mini hive can weigh about 40 lbs, compared to a full size hive at 160 lbs in fall.
- Lessons learned with the mini hive are continuous and interaction with the bees is encouraged. Learning what an egg looks like, as well as larva, cell size, royal jelly, queen, drone, worker bee are all simple to see and learn in a mini hive. Frame spacing, inspection, hygiene around the hive, robbing threats, and so on are all made simple to identify and learn with a mini.
- The method for raising bees in a mini hive inhibits varroa mite threats. Breaking the brood (babies) cycle equally breaks the mite cycle and this is done by rearing a new queen. Rearing a new queen is encouraged as the first lesson for a new beekeeper. With little to no mites the colony is healthier and more manageable.
- Areas with the invasive Small Hive Beetle (SHB) can have a daunting task. The mini hive is small and when attacked by the SHB can be regularly cleaned and items inducing infestation removed.