Where as mainsteam hives have frames, these ones just have the bar and the bees build the combes down from those into the hive cavity. There are no chemicals used to treat the wood (and there really are a lot with mainstream bee keeping) and its incredibly simple. The first swarm sadly died after a cyclone that blew through at the beginning of last year, which weakened them an left them open to hive beetle. We were planning to organise a new swarm but I checked the hive and found a new one had already made itself at home. I was a bit worried about the same thing occuring, but they've gone from strength to strength and now Hans is back to show us how to harvest the honey.
Hans and his wife Sandra then showed up how to put it into a big pot (making sure its clean and has absolutely not water in it as it ruins the honey), give it a bit of a mash and then put it over a bowl and let it strain through.
Hans told us something very interesting about the bees as well. We thought we would have to completely clean out the hive to get rid of the hive beetle and we very surprised when a new swarm moved in. We honestly thought that they wouldn't make it either, which is why we weren't keeping a close eye on how full it was getting. Hans explained that if you have a really strong swarm then they will manage the hive beetle by herding them into a corner and in that kimd of concentration, they can't breed. Sure enough, when he opened the hive, they were in just one corner. He also said our bees were quite aggressive and many people don't like that. But its this agressiveness that means they can manage things like hive beetle. So having aggressive bees means they are strong and will do much better. And I should say that we only realised how cranky they were once we started stealing their honey, not just in the day to day of sharing the property with them. A had a bunch of them after me at one point and was running along the dam wall to get away from them and still got bitten on the bum through my clothes. Hans thought it was hysterical.