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David writes:

I had bees (never more than 5 hives) for over 25 years and had to give them up about 10 years ago. I am ready to get back into them again. I just happened to find your website, and I am very interested in "raising" bees naturally.

I live in Maple Valley, Washington (right up against the Cascade foothills), so the weather is cooler and the seasons are shorter here.

I have been out to Michael Bush's website several times and have corresponded with him a couple.

I getting two swarms in late April and want your advice on a few things.

1. Bush recommends that we have an upper hive entrance rather than a bottom one. Any thoughts on that?

2. I purchased the plastic frames (P-120 I believe is the number) from Mann Lake that has the already regressed size comb for starters. I will use this in the first box and then let the bees build their own on subsequent boxes. I have viewed your video about cutting the comb out, mashing it and then filtering the honey out. If I wanted to extract the honey instead using a honey extractor, would it work? I am trying to save the bees from having to build the comb again.

3. Also, what about a queen excluder. Bush recommends not having one and just pulling out the frames I wish to extract.

4. From my past experience, bees always seem to want to move upward. I am going to use all Western supers for my hive boxes and ones for honey. What do I do in the winter when the queen is probably in the top box? Bush says leave them and they will eventually go down. What has been your experience?

Thank you in advance for your input. I want to be successful at doing this the natural way. By the way, the bees i will be getting are Carnolians.

I'm sure I will have other questions. Hopefully that is okay.

Thanks again.

David P.

Kirk responds:

1- use what ever entrance you want. Top or bottom YOU DECIDE.

2- Michael Bush says on his web site he has extracted his frames with an extractor before. But if the combs are brand new it could be tricky. It is so much easier to do crush and strain. But you can always take the time and money and wire them up. You should always do what works for you.

3- I call queen excluders "Honey Excluders." I use them to roast hot dogs instead.

4-The bees will move down; you can always check them in the spring.

5- Good luck! All communication welcome.