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Wild Comb Apiary – Top Bar Beehives and Foundation-Less Langstroth Hives

Originallyposted on Top-Bar-Beehives.com:

After leaving Duluth(MN) yesterday, I headed 4.5 hours south to my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Westby (WI).  Traveling through the hilly farm country of northern Wisconsin, I passed by fields of dandelion seed heads,  countless acres of sprouting corn stalks and thick oak woods.

Bee BooksAfter a good nights rest, I traveled down to the home of Jordan and Jody Bendel at Wild Comb Apiary, which is nestled in a beautiful valley near Bloomingdale, a small rural community outside of Westby.  Upon arrival, I was greeted by Jordan and invited inside to meet Jody and the rest of the family.  After being offered coffee and real cream, I noticed Les Crowder’s Top-Bar Beekeeping and a few other beekeeping books mixed into the children’s books that were in the living room, illustrating the deep connections their family has to honeybees, which I soon learned about.

With 6 generations of beFoundation-less Langstrothekeeping knowledge, both Jordan and Jody were introduced to beekeeping as young children and have continued on (with many variations) with their grandparents passion for honeybees.  As they grew up, they began to take care of more and more hives, eventually leading them into the commercial world of beekeeping.  Over the years, they have kept hundreds of bees in southern Minnesota, participated in the transportation of hives and have sold beekeeping equipment around the Midwest.   Recognizing the problematic nature of large scale beekeeping (transportation, reliance of industrial equipment, and the use of chemicals/antibiotics), Jordan and Jody shifted their focus onto raising bees (and queens) in a more holistic way.

Huge Top Bar CombInspired by the works of Michael Bush, Les Crowder and other advocates of natural/organic beekeeping, Jordan and Jody now utilize top bar beehives and foundation-less Langstroth hives to raise their honeybees.  One practice that is extremely important to their business is the fact that the bees are given the opportunity to build natural (wild) comb; allowing them to determine their own cell size.  This not only makes the colony more resistant to pests and disease but also avoids the harmful chemicals (or plastics) that are now found in prefabricated foundations, highlighting some of the changes they’ve made to their hive management practices over the years.

Wild Comb Bee YardAfter our interview (which will be posted later this summer!), Jordan showed me the bee yard and I had the opportunity to see a queen finishing box, a couple of his foundation-less Langstroth hives and a top bar hive; along with a converted Langstroth box that now houses top bars.  The largest hive we looked at was a top bar beehive that was 22 inches wide and 16 inches deep.  As you can see in the photo, the bees in this hive build HUGE combs that are unlike anything I’ve seen before!

Jordan Bendel Wild Comb ApiaryWhile there is so much more to say about my visit today, I’ll let the video interview (to be posted later) and the photos give you a glimpse inside Wild Comb Apiary.

Reflecting on the interview today, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Jordan and Jody and greatly admire the work of Wild Comp Apiary! Thank you for letting me stop by!  For more information about Wild Comb Apiaryplease visit their website and check back soon for videos!

Tomorrow, I’ll be back on the road and will be interviewing Jeff Anderson and Steve Ellis on Monday!  Stay tuned for more – Russell