few years ago a beekeeper from Northern Germany developed a "new" kind of hive that becomes more and more popular in Germany. And with good reason as I find. It is a very good compromise between easy handling (i.e. varoa control) and natural keeping. The bees overwinter on their own honey. yield is secondary and if, taken out around mid summer. The bees are encouraged to swarm and few to no premade honeycombs (if you know what i mean, don`t know the english term) are used. the interference with the bees is minimal, no drone control, no queen removals,... .
now let me try to describe how it actually works:
you might want to take a look at these fotos. if you understand German you are propably way better off with this very good and extensive website than with my poor efforts here.
It does seem very complicated the moment you realise that for actually opening the box you have to turn it on its back. I assure you it isn`t. you only have to do that when you harvest and maybe for an early spring check. for other jobs (i.e.varoa control and the like) you can simply open a little trap on the back. this design is not totally new. it has been used extensively in Austria and Slovenia but gotten out of fashion, because new designs brought better yields.
here is a link to illustrate the traditional design (only German I`m afraid, but with pics):
It does require only minimum time to handle your bees (not included building the hive, that does take some time, but you can use them for many years), yield can be good enough and you get the pleasure of having plenty pollinators and some of the most fascinating animals in your ambiance without the tiring work with Langstroth hives.
I know this is no good for a starting point and can only raise more questions. Just wanted to know if someone is interested/already knows about this/ knows about similar approaches. Feel free to ask; I will try to find answers, although I myself am just a beginner with this method.
Have fun and take care,
To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing. - Raymond Williams