My Wheelchair Beekeeping or rather beekeeping as a wheelchair user journey started very and I felt very confident.
However winter proved that there would be an issue with access, especially as the hive is 90′ away from the deck, there is no path and the ground here gets very soft.
At the beginning of the year I was very nervous, but I had done my research and the Top Bar Hive had been made so that I could wheel up to it and it would be the right height for me!
Obviously there were certain issues that I had to get around, like getting the equipment needed up to the hive and being sat down, I was unable to move as freely once I had a bar of comb covered in bees in my hands.
But I managed the inspections, I used a garden trolley that I hooked to the back of my wheelchair with string to carry all the kit and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Which is the important thing!
As Autumn drew on and the ground got wetter, I was no longer able to get up to the hive.
The ground is just too soft and I only have the standard thin wheelchair wheels and trust me, I have tried before and it is a killer on the arms and I get nowhere fast!
I am confident that the bees will be okay, in fact I saw them emerge from the hive during a warm spell of weather, but then the cold weather and snow hit.
During the final inspection of last year, I saw that the colony not only had good stores above every bar of brood, but also bars of just honey stores and so I was very confident that they would have enough stores to get them through.
I had one bar of honey out of the hive last year, my intention has never to be taking as much honey as I can. They work (hard) for it and it is their honey.
So winter does pose a problem and I have spent a long winter worrying about the bees in my hive!
I am going down the natural hands off beekeeping route for a couple of reasons;
First is because I believe that it is the best way and it is best for the bees.
I am not farming them, I am merely providing them with a home and allowing them to do what bees have done for far longer than we have been involved with beekeeping.
Through a lot of reading and watching videos, I believe that treatment free is not only right, it is also essential if we are to help bees adapt to resisting Varroa naturaly.
It is lastly, the only way I can keep bees and I haven’t gone natural because of that, I entered beekeeping after reading and talking to beekeepers who keep bees treatment free.
I am not having a dig but commercial beekeeping is about getting every ounce of honey as possible from a hive and then helping them get through winter by feeding them on man made alternatives (fondants).
Now of course I am taking a risk!
Yes I saw my bees flying last month, but that was before the 2 weeks of sub zero temperatures. I can’t get to the hive and so I have no way of knowing if they are okay?
So yes it is possible to enter beekeeping as a wheelchair user but it does have its challenges.
I haven’t joined the local beekeeping association and that again is because of a couple of reasons.
My health, the chronic fatigue and the pain means that I cannot commit to attending meetings or classes as I am very unreliable and you may find that the venue is not accessible and neither is the apiary where they teach.
Also again because of finances.
We struggle financially and joining a beekeeping association and classes is not possible, we simply cannot afford it.
And also because I have a top bar hive, I have heard of so many people being sneered at for not keeping the type of hive that is considered to be THE type of hive.
I am too tired and in too much pain to be polite if someone tried telling me I was wrong for keeping a top bar hive, it wouldn’t end well!