jacob wustner

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since Sep 25, 2012
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Born and raised in Missoula, MT.  Studied Environmental Studies with emphasis in public policy @ Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.
Keeping own bees for 8 years, worked for Beekeepers for 15 years.  Working to educate people on the importance of wild areas and indigenous culture.
Western Montana
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Recent posts by jacob wustner

The theory behind the log hive is that the bees will do better in a more naturally shaped home.  So the reasoning for  thicker walls is to provide better insulation, and better protection from predators and the elements.  People may go on about additional benefits but for me it comes down to these couple of things.

The downside of log hives are their potential for weight.  Honey, pollen and beeswax are all heavy enough.  Add 3 more inches of hardwood and the hive becomes a pain to move or manipulate. This is the reason why I chose the top bar design for the horizontal hive and a sectional vertical design.  

To harvest the honey from vertical design, one must simply remove the top section, remove all the combs and replace it by putting it in the bottom position, like the Warre method.

The entrances will be one small knot hole in each section of the vertical hive, and one 1/2" x 4" entrance at one end of the horizontal hive.  
2 months ago
Here's my first sketch of the vertical design
2 months ago
Hi Everyone!

I just wanted to pop on here and give a little info on what we will be doing at the Jamboree in the Bee Track.

We will be building a horizontal log hive, that has top bars, so basically a top bar hive that has super thick walls.

We will also build a vertical log hive, but one that is divided into 3 or 4 shorter sections so that it can be easily inspected and manipulated.  We will do either top bars or bamboo skewers for the combs to be drawn from in this hive.

I would like to build a couple of Comfort hives (the modern lay person's Warre hive) and maybe a Langstroth hive as well.  And last but not least we will build at least one swarm trap (not warm trap!) if not more.

If there's any honey in the old hive we will extract it and maybe even process some beeswax.  Throughout the event I will be discussing Treatment Free beekeeping and the ethics of honey bee husbandry.  

Can't wait to see you all there!!
2 months ago
Hi Nancy,

If you are worried about the chemicals, ditch the equipment. Use the equipment if you don't care about the chemicals. Starting fresh is basically the only way to be sure your equipment is free from beekeeper introduced contaminants. Beeswax, and thus combs, are notorious for absorbing chemicals. Do the bees a solid, and get some new boxes and frames. If it smells nasty to you, the bees probably wont like it either. New wax is the most beautiful anyway.
6 years ago
I have seen similar things in commercial beekeeper's yards. Usually it happens on a very strong honey flow, they build comb on the outside underneath the pallet. I agree that it could have been a swarm that didn't make it far from the colony for whatever reason. But I also thought it could be because they were on such a strong honey flow, and because their genetics may come from a commercial beekeeper, they just did this because they needed more room for honey storage and maybe brood production. It would be interesting to know if there was brood in the middle of those outside combs. Since most beekeepers use a mediterranean honey bee, they don't necessarily display the characteristics of a honey bee more adapted to a Michigan environment.

I don't think they necessarily made a bad decision as much as didn't have any options. Swarming isn't a good idea in the fall in northern environments, and usually swarms can get further away than this. I think it may have to do with the fact that the mother colony of this feral hive could have come from a hive who isn't locally adapted.
6 years ago
The beekeeper I learned from who keeps bees in Missoula, MT, winters all of his hives on the ground. The only thing between the hive bottom board (langstroth hives) and the ground was a "pack board" which all of the wintering hives set on, side by side, for winter. They were just long 1x4s that were old and rotting. He made sure that all of the bottom cleats of the hives sat on the wood boards and not directly on the earth. I was thinking about raising my hives off of the ground more, but then another local beekeeper told me that the beekeeper in his area who wintered his hives on the ground, his hives had better survival rates than those who had their hives raised up off the ground. So I started thinking there might be something to it.

We have a very dry climate, even in winter. And if it does snow, the snow sits on top of a tar paper and straw cap that covers the entire "pack" of colonies in the yard. Mice are not really a problem if you upkeep good equipment with small entrances that they cant crawl through. They may chew their way in, but what are you gunna do about a mouse chewing their way into your hive! I guess raise it up off of the ground, they might not get in. But that is only if you use steel posts or something similar that they cant crawl up. And when the snow does get deep, remember mice can get on top of it. We don't have hive beetles, so that isn't a worry. So maybe in certain places with hot dry summers and cold bitter winters, the ground may be the way to go. I'm not sure about this though. Does anyone else have stories about hives doing better on the ground than up in the air a bit? I am curious to know.
6 years ago
Hello Everybody!

Thanks again for posting here!

I will try to answer comments/questions as they came.

Hi Dan! - I am teaching beekeeping, not honey production, although one might assume they are one in the same. When I talk about organic beekeeping, I am referring to management practices. There are all sorts of ways to label this. One might call it biological field management, another might call it organic.

When I talk about traditional, I am talking about beekeeping methods from all around the world since the beginning of beekeeping. This is quite a big subject, but I try to put things in perspective for people, so I use my knowledge to educate people about what people did in the past, and what people are doing now. There are so many ways to describe beekeeping practices, I used these adjectives to separate myself from conventional practices.

Thanks for your positive encouragement and joining in on the conversation!

Hi David! - When we talk about differences in cell size as pertaining to the different sizes of bees, we are only discussing the size of worker brood, because we know that drone/honey storage cells are larger and vary in size. So we don't include the drone/storage cell sizes when comparing "sizing" of the brood nest. I have measured lots of combs, and from doing foundationless, I have learned much about how they build comb and why they size it. Since going down the treatment free road, I found it very important for me to discuss the size of the bees as one possible reason for the maladies we see so much of today. If it works like people claim it does, then there probably is something to it. I have found it hard to deny the logic of small cell beekeeping, and find it very enticing to try. Why wouldn't I? I have tried lots of other stuff that didn't work, so I am not really afraid of trying something new. There is so much evidence pointing to sizing being an important factor in the ecology of honey bees, that I feel it is something everyone should try, and then we can share information and data we have collected from trying it. Of course, not everyone wants to be that kind of beekeeper, and that is totally fine.

Hi Jean-Jacques! - Great points! I labeled the class as such, because of my background in beekeeping. In the beekeeping world, there is not much of a consensus on what these things mean, but it does portray the ideas I am supporting. It is a great course for starting beekeeping, but there are a bunch of courses out there. Some of them even claiming to be treatment free or organic. Which is awesome!

But my class is more for the permaculturalist who wants to be a successful beekeeper and wants to avoid all the bad and mis-information that is out there. Growing up in the industry, I have the special advantage of understand the "why" beekeepers do certain things. Every beekeeper is constantly learning, whether you are 5 years old or 95 years old. Bees and nature will continue to fascinate humans as long as we can co-exist. I suggest strategies and philosophies to help every beekeeper, young and old, to help carry us into the future where we can co-exist in harmony. And lead us away from the direction we seem to be going to as a society.
6 years ago
Hey David!

I loved your videos! Yeah what traditional beekeeping means will vary based on location, and be different for every individual. To me it is about returning to natural practices like only feeding honey and pollen. I'm not into sugar feeding anymore.

As far as small cell goes, it would be nice to have more data available to the public on the comb size of wild hives. And by wild hives I mean feral honey bees that are not from commercial beekeepers swarms.

In the latest study about the arnot forest bees, they say something about the smaller size of the comb, but never mention the small cell beekeepers. If we all were able to locate truly feral honey bees and measure the combs, then we could really get some data to show.

But using domesticated honey bees is not necessarily give you the patterns that nature sets herself. If you think about the large himalayan honey bees that migrate from the mountains to the low lands every year, it makes sense that they are larger. And as most animals get larger the further north or south you get, it makes sense that honey bees would do the same thing. Larger where its colder, smaller where its warmer.

But since humans have been keeping and breeding bees for many thousands of years, using their genetics for scientific studies will only prove how they respond to situations, and might not necessarily correlate to wild hives and how they act in nature.

On another note, I love bee trees! But they seem like a lot of work and I don't like cutting into large trees. I know it may not kill the trees, but I would prefer to let the wild hives use their instincts to find wild cavities! And then trap them out of the trees.




6 years ago
Hey Jeff!

I was thinking about your idea of log hives up in trees on hunter stands, and I have more critiques. First, if you want the bees to survive year after year, you will need large enough colonies to make it through your winters. This would require large log hives, that would end up weighing way more than most humans(400-500lbs) when filled with honey and pollen. And if for some reason one came loose and fell, it could be disastrous. With lightweight hives you wouldn't have good enough insulation from the wind, and they still would be heavy when filled with honey(300-350lbs).

I was thinking about the wind and how people don't usually put hives in windy areas for a good reason. So my platform idea is kinda out because the wind would tear it apart, unless it is constructed really well. If you put it in a shelter belt or a thick stand of large trees, then you probably would be fine. I think most people have found through experience that everyone (the bees and beekeepers) are safer when there isn't a lot of up and down moving of hives or honey. That is a large amount of work and is dangerous.

So maybe the flat roof top, or the top of an earth shelter would be best for your idea. The bees get their vertical and you can safely access them when you need to. I don't know how many bears you have over there in ND, but here you can't leave hives unprotected from bears. They will find them with their excellent noses!

Anyway, food for thought...
6 years ago