- ABOUT US -
Our story began some years ago in a little town called Uki in Northern NSW. Mark Holbut began working with bees in conventional box hives. An innovative and accomplished builder Mark could see an opportunity to keep and work with the bees more holistically. He began researching the traditional Kenyan top bar hive. Using his creative building skills Mark developed a unique top bar hive based on similar principals to the Kenyan top bar hive. Ashlena (Mark's daughter) & Mark spent weekends working with the bees in both top bar hives and box hives.
After experiencing both approaches to beekeeping and falling completely in love with the bees, Ashlena felt that the top bar hives offer a wonderful opportunity for anyone to work with the bees. Holistic beekeeping in a top bar hive means no heavy lifting, no foundation and no specialised equipment. The boxes are aesthetically pleasing and a delightful addition to any garden. When Ashlena moved north with Andrew and their baby boy it was inevitable a few bee boxes were kept in their own garden. It was not long before Andrew also fell in love with the bees. Together Andrew, Ashlena and Mark began making top bar hives and keeping bees. Now they would like to offer the wonderful opportunity of holistic beekeeping in top bar hives to you.
The top bar hive
At Holistic Hives we hand make our top bar hives using all Australian materials, each box is slightly unique.
The colourbond roof protects the bees and the box from the sun, rain, heat and cold. Between the roof and the box lid is a breezeway to keep the bees cool. The solid timber lid sits on top of the honey and brood rails. Inside the box is an empty cavity, perfect for the bees. No foundation is added or needed. The bees pull all their own wax for brood and honey.
The boxes are fitted with a perspex viewing window for easy visual inspection and the window cover is a lovely feature. One end of the box has an adjustable meshed vent to help regulate the bees temperature in our extreme Australian climate.
The bees begin in the brood end of the box (the rails are slightly smaller then honey rails), and gradually work their way down the box into the honey end. A sturdy meshed divider allows the bee keeper to work with the bees as the hive grows, moving the divider with the size of the hive. Once the bees begin to fill a few honey rails (depending on the season) the beekeeper can take a rail as required. Simply cutting the honey laden comb from the rail and placing the empty rail back in the box.
Here at Holistic Hives we know you and your bees will love our boxes. They are beautiful to work with, durable and best of all the bees love to make them home.
Harvesting from the top bar hive
Once the beekeeper has cut the comb from the rail the laden comb is placed in a sieve (the sieve in your kitchen will do the trick). The sieve is placed over a bucket or bowl - depending on how much honey you're intending to extract, the comb is crushed (You can use a potato masher or your hands), the honey flows through the sieve into the chosen holding vessel. Once the comb is crushed it is left an hour or more to let the honey flow. The honey is placed in a sterile jar and the wax comb can be used for body cream, candles or shoe polish.
At Holistic Hives we avoid moving our bees as we feel this causes undue stress on the hive. Instead we keep our bees in areas of rich floristic diversity ensuring optimal nutritional variety. Our Top Rail boxes do not include queen excluders and we do not suppress swarming. Instead we aim to work with the natural impulses of the bees.
Its all about Beekeeping for the future. We work for the love of bees, for sustainability and for self-sufficiency.