I practice apicentric peri-urban beekeeping.  I provide my bees with water, locations with high quantity nectar and pollen, and well-constructed boxes built from thick local pine and western red cedar. 

All of my hives are warre and top bar hives.  While I believe any hive (langstroth, warre, top bar, or other), can be managed ethically, I find warre and top bar hives to be better suited for my purposes.

A hive of bees is a superorganism with an internal communication system based on chemicals (pheromones) and vibration, exacting thermo-regulation set to 35 degrees C, and a robust disease and invasion response system that has evolved over 150 million years.  I do my best not to mess with most of that.  I don't use a queen excluder, and her majesty is free to roam the whole hive, although she tends to hang out in the lower boxes where the newer comb is located.  I don't move my hives around, but rather look for permanent places for them, and I only move them as a last resort (if their lives are in danger).  I use organic best-practices and closely follow Demeter's International Bee Standards (with the exception of queen genetics, explained here).  I never open a hive unless there is no other choice, and I use as little smoke as possible.  I even go so far as to only take as much honey as the bees will let me take: if they start saying no, I close the hive.

My bees have a ready source or water and a diverse selection of nectar and pollen year round, keeping my bees in optimal health and giving my honey a unique and wonderful flavour that is never the same two weeks in a row.

Unspun Honey is slow honey at its best.  From the start I have made my honey the "old world" way - completely unfiltered, unheated, and crushed comb in a stainless steel hand press.  Sometimes the bees will gift me with a little of their bee bread pollen in with the honey, and that adds a completely different dimension to the flavour.  And that's also the way I see my honey: as a gift. 

- Matthew Waltner-Toews (Advisor to the Queens)





Inspecting one of my top bar hives in my first year

A warre hive is an endless hollow tree.