You may have noticed the two colorful beehives at the edge of the woods as you drive onto the Fellowship campus. As part of the EcoSolutions Committee’s attempt to increase pollinators, Greg Mohler and Cynthia Braun installed the hives last March.

These beehives are not your ordinary hives, however. During a 2017 trip to Slovenia, Greg and Cynthia visited several apiaries and learned about traditional Slovenian beekeeping. Upon returning home, Greg built the two hives to replicate the Slovenian style.

Back of Bee Hives

Back of Bee Hives

Slovenian beehives house the bee frames in a “cabinet” type enclosure, where the frames are supported vertically on three metal bars. They are removed by sliding them out towards the rear of the hive. Each of the 30 frames can be inspected without disturbing the others. This greatly reduces disrupting the complex society in the hive and unintentional harming of the bees. This is in contrast to the typical American style “Langstroth” hive, where the chambers are stacked on top of each other, and the top chambers (weighing up to 60 pounds when filled with honey) must be lifted off to reach the lower ones. The brood chamber, that holds the Queen and all of her eggs, is at the bottom. It is extremely challenging to check on the well-being of the Queen in Langstroth hives without seriously disturbing the bees. The no heavy lifting and easy inspection are both significant benefits of the Slovenian hive.

In recent years, honey bee populations have seen a steep decline. According to most scientists, there is no single cause. Rather, it seems due to a combination of factors: parasites, pathogens, pesticides, poor nutrition and habitat loss. One of the greatest threats to honey bees is industrial agriculture’s widespread use of pesticides. It is estimated that one third of the food we eat relies on pollination mainly by bees, but also by other insects, birds and bats. EcoSolutions is responding to this need by adding beehives and increasingly planting pollinator-friendly vegetation on the Fellowship grounds.