As a farm that specializes in orchard fruit and open pollinated vegetables, some of the most important workers on our farm are the pollinators. While we are very lucky to have a wealth of native insects who do volunteer work for us, we feel it is necessary to supplement our locals with domesticated honey bees. In 2011 we will be adding two hives of bees to our farm.
The path we are taking is slightly off of the beaten path. The bees we will be getting are Russians, a species of bee that while it is not the most prolific honey producer, is highly resistant to a number of the pests and diseases that are causing troubles and likely contributing to colony collapse disorder. We will also be keeping our bees in a different style hive than is the standard. Our bees will be housed in Top Bar hives. This style of hive is somewhat easier to work for the beekeeper, and is less disruptive to the bees.
While we know we have a lot to learn about keeping bees and providing them with an environment in which to be happy and productive, we are looking forward to the challenge. We will post much more on this subject as we go along, including pictures of the bees being installed and working for us!