Thursday, 3 September 2015

Taste of West Cork - Children's Bee Keeping Workshop with Bee Keeper Trevor Danann (age 14)

             Trevor Danann - Children's Bee Keeping Workshop
8th September at Liss Ard Estate 

Liss Ard Estate, Castletownshend Road, Skibbereen

In the natural honey-bee friendly habitat of Liss Ard Estate, Trevor Danann (age 14), certified Bee Keeper and owner of 12 hives, will host a Bee Keeping Workshop geared towards children aged 7 to 16 years. This workshop will include demonstrations, a slide show and talk, with question and answer time and honey tastings. 

***There will be no live bees at this demo 

My children working on their hives 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

April Danann's - Honey Bee Tea

Honey Bee Tea
We’ve decided to feed our bees, mainly because we are not at all certain they are getting the food requirements necessary to sustain them. Another reason is that we have seen them become weaker over these past 5 years with more losses and smaller hives with fewer stores of honey.
Critical point has long been reached.
We add mushrooms to our Honey Bee Tea because we have seen the extensive research on how beneficial these organisms are to both humans and bees, in particular the Immune Strengthening properties of medicinal mushrooms. It’s as simple as steeping mushrooms in hot water for ½ hour along with the herbs….
The plastic feeders are probably better suited – the bees are able to cling on the sides more efficiently, however the bees don’t like plastic. A wooden feeder is preferred because it is natural material – rough up the sides to enable them to cling to the surface and not fall into the sugar syrup. Or use an inverted container with small holes in the bottom, either way get started with a method that works for you and your bees. 
    16 cups white cane sugar (raw cane sugar gives them diarrhoea)
    6 cups hot tap water
    2 cups strongly brewed chamomile, dandelion and/or thyme tea
    ¼ to ½ teaspoon mineral salt
    Mushrooms steeped in with herbs (shitake, miatake, oyster etc.)
    1 – 2 drops therapeutic grade Essential oil of thyme or oregano (optional)

    Dissolve sugar and salt in 6 cups hot/chlorine free water and stir until gains are gone
    Boil 2 cups water, pour over tea, and let it steep (covered) for 10-15 minutes
    Gently mash & stir mushroom/tea mixture, strain carefully then add to sugar water
    Mix together gently by hand for about 3 minutes
    Fill feeders (wooden is best)

We use therapeutic grade Essential Oils to boost properties of the sugar solution and also to discourage any mold growth in the short term, inside the hive. Make sure there is a float for the bees to land on in the frame feeder. Monitor the feeders closely for wasps, damage, mold and usage. Change out herbs from time to time – use elder flower, hawthorne flower, rosemary and so forth for many different health benefits.

Danann Design Top Bar Bee Hive with viewing glass
Come On, Bee A Rebel!     

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Bee Keeping Workshop 7th June 2015 - West Cork

Press Release: Natural Beekeeping Class
Liss Ard Estate, West Cork, Ireland, 7th June 2015

A chemical free - Natural Beekeeping Class is being offered on Sunday 7th June 2015 to introduce people to a gentler approach to Beekeeping at Liss Ard Estate in Skibbereen.

This is a perfect venue for the beekeeping class with plenty of space to roam around in their own natural habitat.

Max Danann & Trevor Danann both certified Beekeepers, are offering training in Natural Beekeeping (chemical free) through use of Top Bar Hives and their own hybrid mixed hives. The workshop is geared toward those with no prior experience in beekeeping but Beekeepers of any level are welcome.

April Danann will also be on hand to discuss her research project on Irish honey - The Honey Project - a microbiological review of honeys from around the world and their unique healing properties. 

Top Bar Hives are an alternative type of hive to commercial or national framed style hives currently in use. These are considered to closely resemble natural bee habitat and bees thrive in them. Many long time beekeepers are switching over to using some form of top bar hive. As well, our own mixed hive featuring framed Top Bars will be discussed.

During the class, you will be introduced to some time honoured traditions in beekeeping, learn about honey, equipment needs, initial start-up, bee health; including disease, pesticides, colony collapse disorder and how to keep a bee garden.

Students will be walked through a Top Bar Hive as well as other types – how they work, how to maintain a hive, and how to provide a family with a source of honey. There will be plenty of time for questions during this discussion style workshop.

Bees are everyone’s responsibility – at one time most back gardens had a hive or two – it’s time we came back to supporting these beautiful creatures – this class is a step forward in learning how to do just that.

Date; 7th June 2015
Place; Liss Ard Estate Skibbereen
Time; 1:30 to 4:30pm 
Cost: €55.00 (includes notes, light refreshments)
Contact: Max Danann 0873284762, email or stop by our stall to book your place. Deposit required to hold a seat.

Various types of bee hives in our garden 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Top Bar Bee Keeping Class -- 30th March 2014 in Leap, West Cork

Top Bar Bee Keeping & Hives Introductory Class 30th March 2014


Text or Ring: 0873284762

Many honey producers are placing nearly all of the current problems with the decline in local bee populations as well as some of the issues faced by agriculture today, on the way bees have been reared and kept during the past century. 

Basically, natural beekeeping involves less intervention (or none), using native species of bees, providing hives that suit bees more than humans, letting the bees do what they do best and not extracting all the honey in any one season. This system when combined with other natural practices such as organic farming becomes a conservation project and part of the solution to ensure thriving local populations of bees.

Top Bar Hives, as these have been used for well over a thousand years, are more bee friendly and are easy to maintain. They also appear to support the low intervention approach as they are sturdier, house varying populations of bees and allow the bees to produce varying types of comb. In the effort of sustainability, many honey producers believe that this low-tech approach “may mean accepting lower honey production per colony in return for healthier bees.”

Max and April Danann are Bee Keepers using only Top Bar Hives and a natural approach to apiary. 

o Top Bar Hives building courses available
o Custom made to fit frames
o Nucs can be ordered
o Courses and Training 

1:00 to 5:30 pm
€45 (adult), €25 children with adult attending
To book your place text or ring 087 328 4762
Please email, text or ring to order your Top Bar Bee Hives
Mob:  087 328 4762       email:

Top Bar Bee Keeping 30th March 2014, Leap

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Aggression in Normally Docile Irish Honey Bees

These past few weeks we have watched our little herb garden bee hive become more and more active….to the point of a little aggressive. Of course, being this time of year our minds went to a few different explanations as we kept our distance to allow them to do their thing.

There are several reasons a normally docile bee hive might suddenly become more assertive – one occurs when they are stressed at this time of year such as a lack of winter stores of food (probably sounds like us all, trying to gather winter food and fuel LOL). However, with the summer we just had, a lack of food stores would hardly be the case. 

Unless – they were being robbed of their resources by another bee hive or wasps. One way to try to ascertain if this is happening is to watch the bees coming and going into the hive to see if there is anyone leaving with pollen or if something looks amiss etc.

Another reason for aggression in a hive is when a queen dies and the bees are busy growing another one. Of course, there are also very simple reasons for aggression such as running out of space – and everyone crowded in on top of each other - making them a little testy.

As ever, we were observing and standing at the ready to assist or help in any way….bees would rarely require our help, but because they are in an unnatural environment of the hive, it is our duty to at least keep a watchful eye on things.

So, this past week we noticed with the warm sunny days a bit of a population explosion around the hive…..there were bees everywhere over a day or so. Upon closer inspection this is what we found.

They were building comb on the outside of the hive in an attempt to create more space for their growing population. They were already a good sized hive when they moved in last July (wild swarm), however, we did not anticipate this exponential growth at this time of the year!

So….the only thing to do was take a chance…..we grabbed a larger Top Bar Hive that was complete except for the roof – and working quickly so as not to stress them further, we moved the entire old hive into the bigger box. 

In the meantime, Max went to work finishing a temporary solid roof for the new hive – the old box was placed underneath the new one for the bees to clean out and as ever….we just stood back to allow them to get on with sorting themselves out in their new expanded space.

For us it was a learning curve…we have had bad weather and terrible summers for so long we had forgotten that bee populations will actually expand – at any time when food is plentiful and the conditions are right.

Even at this time in mid October, the conditions are still fairly pleasant for the bees with decent weather, warmish days and lots of vegetation close by. So, when the rain holds off for a few days at a time – watch out!  

They seem to have settled down again now - and the are back to being their normal docile, happy selves - going into winter in very good shape by the amount of honey we saw in the comb....

New Top Bar Hive with temporary roof - old hive underneath - bees coming in and out at the front

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Bee Keeping Presentation during A Taste of West Cork Food Festival

This week during the Food Festival some exciting and innovative local foodie adventures are coming to the fore….one of them involves a home schooled boy from Leap who also happens to be a certified Bee Keeper.

Trevor Danann, age 13 has been a bee keeper since 9 years of age, having studied his first level in Gormanstown along with his father Max Danann. Together over these past few years they have researched and built several bee-hives finally settling on their own style of Top Bar Hive.

Trevor is taking part in the Growing Awareness Workshops for Children and Adults in the Old Fields Bakery, which is a special event during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival with an emphasis on where food comes from.

For this workshop, Trevor has put together a short presentation geared mainly to school children but certainly informative and interesting for just about everyone, on bees, honey and beekeeping – with an emphasis on several key points;

Irish Honey Bees – Ireland has one native species of honey producing bee, which are known to be gentle and easy to handle as well as being very nearly black in colour.

Honey - is perhaps the only food we humans eat that is produced from an insect and has been in our food chain for many thousands of years. It is known for it’s medicinal properties and use as a sweetener.

Pollination – it was Einstein who said it best….without bees to pollinate our foods, we would have 4 years at best – and then be left eating mainly bread and pork with very little vegetables or fruit.

Bees versus wasps – bees often get the blame for buzzing around our heads aggressively at this time of the year, however when you look closely these may just be wasps. Bees are usually darker, smaller and quite docile in comparison.

Overall, it is well worth a visit to the Old Fields Bakery to take in this informative and unique approach to food, honey and beekeeping as seen through the eyes of this young beekeeper – and to take in the many other stalls throughout the hall at the same time.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Top Bar Bees busy again

Its good to see the Bees back into the swing of things again, the last few weeks of sunshine was the boost that was needed to get them flying and foraging. Unfortunately, the rain has returned and settled in for the time being. This change in weather will affect the bees ability to build stores up for the winter so lets hope that the sunshine returns very soon.

I plan to show the Top Bar Bee Hives at the Skibbereen market again due to renewed interest from a number of aspiring beekeepers that I have talked to at the market. As always, I strive to improve the hive structure with each new hive that I build. The design originates in the Kenyan style of hive with some modifications to adapt to the Irish climate, such as ventilation to deal with excess dampness in the hive. I still prefer to use Larch timber for its durability and weather resistance.

 I am looking forward to seeing some more Top Bar Hives getting out into back gardens and fields. I set up a hive last week in a garden center and I am sure the bees will be very happy with the extended range of flowers and herbs to forage from.

All for now,