By: Bill Summers(Author)
124 pages, colour illustrations
This is a book like no other on the subject of honey bees. It addresses the author's belief and that of his colleague (Dave Durrant) that the welfare of honey bees in a traditional hive fails to provide for their needs as biological systems. This realisation led to the design of the ZEST hive which does do so.
It deploys a longitudinal external envelope, with top bee entry and trickle ventilation, made from lightweight insulated building blocks and plastic lattice frames within which the bees draw out their wild honeycomb. The former is DIY from builders merchants and the latter available in boxes of 12. The external envelope is not just a lightweight insulated one, but is sufficiently heavy to provide the bees with a thermal lag of an envelope that is easily thermo-regulated to 35deg, the fundamental requirement of their brood.
From the honey bee-perspective the ZEST hive overcomes all the problems of other hive designs and frame types. An unintended consequence of the ZEST hive design has been to eliminate varroa. The ZEST is functionally free of it. This is witnessed by the hive debris. The cause seems to be the smaller natural cell size and natural warmth of the hive envelope, both of which speed the biological process of honey bee pupation. The time available for the varroa to mature in the pupating cells is reduced. Their numbers fall to zero rather than rises exponentially.
Beekeeping with ZEST and its thesis will prove to be seminal in the drive to solve the problems of honey bee health in all its aspects and manifestations. There has been a recent doubling of beekeepers in the country caused by the ecologically-minded seeking to assist honey bees in a better environment. This can be applauded. Beekeeping with ZEST is to assist them and their bees. The ZEST hive is democratic. Anyone can have one. It is cheap, appropriate and amenable to a more self-sufficient way of life. It is a living sustainable system, not a product. It can be entirely D.I.Y. The ZEST hive does a great deal more with a great deal less.
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