Have you heard the buzz? We have six new beehives at Drumlin Farm! There are three on Boyce Field, one in the Learning Garden, one behind the Nature Center, and one in the sugar bush. On your next visit, follow this map to find them.
You’ll notice some are painted, while others are not. That’s because we have two different types of hives. The painted ones are called Langstroth hives—these are the traditional hive boxes that have been around since the mid-1800s. The unpainted boxes are Warre hives—a newer structure that reduces the need to disturb the bees when you want to collect honey and wax.
Langstroth hives have frames that hang down from the top of each box, called a super. These frames have a wax layer imprinted with a comb pattern, which provides the base for bees to build the wax onto. The comb imprint encourages the bees to build slightly larger cells that can store more honey than they would if they built a hive on their own. Supers and frames can be added or removed depending on how much honey you want the bees to produce. Access to the hive is through the top super.
To collect honey from Langstroth hives, the beekeeper must put the comb into a centrifuge. The spinning motion separates the honey from the wax.
Warre hives a wooden bar at the top of the super instead of hanging frames. The bar allows bees to build their own comb structure from the top down, which emulates their natural process. Additional supers are added to the bottom rather than the top, so bees are undisturbed when the beekeeper needs to add more space to the hive.
To retrieve honey, the beekeeper removes the comb and places it in a muslin cloth. The comb is crushed inside the cloth, and honey drips out into a bucket.
Our Warre hives have observation windows—feel free to take a look and watch the bees at work!
A typical hive can produce up to 200 pounds of honey per year, and requires 60-80 lbs to live through the winter. That means we could collect as much as 140 lbs per hive—that’s 840 lbs total! The bees will keep all their honey this year as the hives get established, but next year we can start collecting our honey and make it available for you to purchase.
Be on the look-out for new beekeeping and honey-related programs. We are excited to share our new project with you, and we can’t wait to taste the results!