ISSUE 40  |  North by Northwest

Bee Thinking in Oregon

October 03, 2012 5:00 PM

BY Janet Hall

A Portland-based duo of bee enthusiasts is promoting a different way of thinking about beekeeping. Matthew and Jill Reed run Bee Thinking, the world's first beekeeping supplier specializing in foundationless bee hives that are gaining traction with backyard enthusiasts and sustainable farmers.

Bee Thinking is a proponent of foundation-free top bar hives and Warre hives that offer a low-cost, low-impact alternative to traditional Langstroth frame beehives (those familiar white boxes). Top Bar Hive Systems set up the hives in a horizontal manner, rather than the traditional vertical orientation, so the honey is at the front and the brood nest is at the back. They are affordable, compact, and lightweight. A Warre Hive uses small, square hive bodies and top bars with no frames or foundation. All of Bee Thinking's hives are constructed at their mill in Portland, Oregon, using FSC certified Western Red Cedar from the Pacific Northwest.

Above: Bee Thinking's Top Bar Hive is built using all screw construction. It measures 42 inches in length and has 1-inch thick sides. "The top bar hive uses only bars of some sort, usually with a starter strip of foundation, popsicle stick or wedge from which the bees build their own comb." It's available for $299.99.

Above: The viewing window of the Top Bar Hive allows easy observation of the colony without disturbing the bees. Side entrances (and side ventilation) make management of the colony from both sides simple.

Above: Also constructed from Western Red Cedar in Portland, Oregon, Bee Thinking's Warre Hive includes standard Warre roof, quilt box, two boxes, 16 top bars, standard screened floor and assembly instructions. Available assembled or unassembled. Additional boxes available; $219.99.

Above: Bee Thinking offers a range of beekeeping accessories supporting top bar, Warre, and Langstroth hive systems. The Beekeeping Starter Kit includes everything you need (except a hive): hat/veil combo, gloves, top bar hive tool, brush, and optional smoker; $85.

Above: A Double Jar Feeder for a top bar, Warre, or Langstroth hive. Simply place it in the bottom of your top bar hive on the side of the follower board with the bees; $25.

Above: A compact 4-by-7-inch European Stainless Steel Beekeeping Smoker; $38.

Above: Bee Thinking offers an array of books and movies, including Beekeeping For All (for Warre hive systems) and Top-Bar Beekeeping; $20 each.

Intrigued? Read more Gardenista Beekeeping Posts.