Today in Lithuania we went to an ancient bee museum in the Dzukija national park. Near Musteikiai village is this museum where the beekeeper practices natural ancient methods and keeps all his bees in what we would call bee gums or tree trunks as hives. He has a hand built tool for hollowing out the tree cavity and uses various methods for keeping the chunk of wood that he uses for the entry closure in place.
He starts his smoker by lighting a dried mushroom with a strike of flint against a handmade metal tool. He lights his smoker effortlessly. Here's a video made by someone else of this same beekeeper lighting his smoker.
Notice his hat and veil below. He wove his hat and added the veil. In the hive below he showed us how he is hoping that the now small colony will eventually grow to fill the open space above the divider he has made. Like one does in a top bar hive, he will move the divider up as the hive grows. He cut some honeycomb from this hive, used a feather to brush off the bees and gave us each a chunk to taste.
He also demonstrated how he climbs into bee trees to reach his hives. He has 31 hives in the trees....some are on the ground at his museum and many are in the trees. He climbed up this tree trunk on protruding branches as steps. He also showed us how he hoists himself up on a rope step that he makes by looping the rope around the tree, making a slip knot, stepping into the slip knot over and over, up the tree.
Then he hooked up a homemade pulley system and slid down the tree. He gathered his basket and smoker and shinnied back up the tree to inspect the hive. When all was done the simple rope system was easy to disassemble and he headed for home.
I brought honey from Atlanta to thank him and he gave us all candles that he had made. What a fabulous day in Lithuania!