Moving Honey Bee Colonies

Serguei M. Voljski and Vlad M. Voljski practice migratory beekeeping with mobile hive platform modules which can be lowered onto the bed of a truck. Each hive on the ten-hive platforms consists of sixteen frames in two hive bodies. Seguei and Vlad have used this system for eight years in southern Pskov region of Russia and are very satisfied with the results. The two beekeepers said they adapted to this management style due to the widely scattered intense, but relatively short, honey flows which occur in the region.

As can be seen from the photos, the enclosures are jacked up on legs off the bed of the truck and the process is simply reversed to move the colonies. In addition to discouraging bears, wild boars and thieves from disturbing the hives, the hive platforms have a roof which protects both the hives and the beekeeper during rainy weather. This method of colony movement also removes the need for forklifts to move colonies or hand lifting the hives onto the truck platform. Other less obvious advantages include not having to search for level ground or doing your own ground leveling before hive placement. This is especially important in a mountainous or hilly area.

The legs of the platform can be adjusted easily to compensate for uneven ground. Not having the hives on the moist ground protects bottom boards and other hive parts from rot. The platform roof also helps protects hives from excess moisture.

According to Serguei and Vlad, one beekeeper can easily handle 25 to 30 platform modules in the season (which includes moving them to various honey flows and finally to an overwintering yard protected by tree cover).

ABJ, May 1994


A beekeeper and his bait hives in Russia

In Russia beekeeper Serguei Voljski practices a system of beekeeping and swarm catching he calls his "BORT" System. The word "Bort" comes from the old Russian word for a dwelling of a bee colony in the hollow of a tree.

Mr. Voljski and his family catch swarms every year by hanging the "Borts" in trees where they know swarms will pass. This is similar to systems of swarm catching practiced throughout the world, but it has proven particularly profitable for the Voljski family and they have been able to increase their colonies significantly.

In addition to catching swarms, Mr. Voljski says "Borts" also produce extra honey and beeswax to augment the surplus products from established hives that he sells.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Voljski that in earlier time Russian lords and kings, who owned the land and forests, protected their wild colonies or "Borts" quite fiercely and strong laws were made to enforce landowners' rights to honey and beeswax from the "Borts." All of this just goes to show how important honey and beeswax were, and not only in Russia, but around the world in previous times.

ABJ, June 1994



Summer is "harvesting season" for Buford beekeeper

Family owned business sees honey as nature's medicine

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/21/08


Sergey Volzhskiy loves the hot summer months. But it's not really about the weather.

Every year, leading up to this season, the 58-year-old Buford resident meticulously tends his Russian honeybees and tracks their health. He listens and learns the melodies of what he calls a particular hive's "symphony."

Vino Wong/AJC

Russian honeybees swarm around plastic cones where the queen bee lays her eggs.

Vino Wong/AJC

Sergey Volzhskiy is a third-generation beekeeper. He's also certified in apitherapy, the practice of using honeybee products to treat various medical conditions.

When summer arrives, the time has come. "It's harvesting season," he said.

Volzhskiy is a third-generation beekeeper. In addition to overseeing 200 to 300 colonies, he employs a unique migratory beekeeping system that allows him to slide a platform stacked with hives onto a trailer bed to move from one location to another.

He's also certified in apitherapy the practice of using honeybee products to treat conditions like arthritis by using bee venom to alleviate joint pains. Volzhskiy said he's the only apitherapist he knows of in Georgia.

Volzhskiy's family owned business runs on the backs of 15.6 million tiny workers from 14 locations in the Buford area and up to Helen.

He touts the health benefits of bee products and has built his Russian beekeeping business, BORT, upon the philosophy that natural products such as honey can provide cures for the ailments of what he calls a generation of "McDonald's people."

For Volzhskiy, a bottle of his honey represents more than just a local, naturally made product. He says it's nature's medicine that can prevent someone from filling a prescription at a drugstore like the one next door to his shop, he points out.

"One pill is designed to make you take another pill," he said.

Despite getting stung almost on a daily basis, Volzhskiy said he plans to continue his family's tradition, which began in St. Petersburg, Russia.

"This is my retirement plan," he said.


  • The average honey bee produces 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
  • A worker bee's lifespan during the summer is 55 days.
  • A queen bee can lay up to 3,000 eggs in one day.
  • There is one queen bee per colony and 60,000 to 80,000 worker bees.
  • A honeybee's wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, making a buzzing noise.
  • Apitherapy dates back 2,000 years, where it was mentioned in ancient Chinese texts.

Sources: National Honey Board Web site; American Apitherapy Society Web site; Sergey Volzhskiy of BORT.


6/14/2009 12:01:00 AM 
  • Therapies involving the honeybee have existed for thousands of years and some may be as old as human medicine itself.
  • The ancient rock art of early hunter-gatherers depicts the honeybee as a source of natural medicine.
  • Bee venom therapy was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and China - three civilizations known for their highly developed medical systems.
  • Hippocrates, the Greek physician, recognized the healing virtues of bee venom for treating arthritis and other joint problems.
  • Today, growing scientific evidence suggests that various bee products promote healing by improving circulation, decreasing inflammation and stimulating a healthy immune response.
SOURCE: American Apitherapy Society

All the buzz: Buford man touts healing properties of honeybees

By Jamie Ward
Staff Writer

BUFORD - The buzzing sound of bees pervades the air in the backyard of Buford resident Sergey Volzhskiy's home. But that's to be expected at the home of the biggest beekeeper and maker of local honey in Gwinnett County.

Volzhskiy has beekeeping in his native Russian blood - there have been beekeepers in the family for four generations now.

What's different about Volzhskiy from his ancestors is that he brought his Russian heritage to America in 1995. With that move came the beekeeping skills that Volzhskiy has turned into a small business called Bort. It's a Russian word that Volzhskiy said means "a dwelling in the trees with the bees in it."

Bort is one of many small business ventures Volzhskiy operates out of his store at 1980 Buford Highway. He also has mobile bee hives and colonies placed at various locations across North Georgia - from Buford to Helen - and each July he begins harvesting a new crop of bee related products.

In the harvesting of these bee products the goal of Bort emerges - to educate people about the health benefits that can be realized by integrating bee products into their daily lives. Volzhskiy educates local folks by giving presentations to businesses and school children about the benefits of bees, and by offering them his locally produced, Russian-infused, bee products. Or as Volzhskiy said in his strong Russian accent, "giving people access to the natural way of living."

Allergy medicine?

"Honeybees provide much, much more than just honey. A couple beehives in your backyard can provide access to the real medicine," Volzhskiy says while showcasing the 50-plus colonies in his backyard. This particular colony had 80 to 90,000 honeybees in it along with a queen, which can sell for as much as $700.

"You don't need to go to the pharmacy or buy some pills because you'll have the stuff provided by Mother Nature and made by honeybees," he said, pointing at the honeycomb and tasting a piece. "It's a very spiritual way of living."

Volzhskiy promotes and offers apitherapy, or bee therapy, which is the medicinal use of products made by honeybees. Products include: honey, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, bee venom and propolis, all of which Bort manufactures and sells. Volzhskiy said some of the medical conditions treated include multiple sclerosis, arthritis, wounds, burns, infections and even allergies, which are a hot topic in the Southeast, he said.

"Local bees use local pollen and by using these bees' products it helps build up your immune system and fight local allergies, which is caused by the local pollens," Volzhskiy said. "This knowledge makes local honey popular and that's a good sign. People are realizing that the natural way of living and treating themselves natural is the way they're supposed to go."

Buford resident Jennifer Twite takes her daughter to Volzhskiy's music business for piano lessons. She moved from California a few years prior and in the past suffered from seasonal allergies. That trend continued in Georgia.

In September, on the advice of her husband and Volzhskiy, she began taking daily tablespoons of Volzhskiy's sourwood honey in the tea she regularly drinks. She's now a regular user of that honey and a converted believer in its power.

"I was a skeptic because I never had any success before with any homeopathic type of products," Twite said. "But my allergies for the most part have been alleviated and I've had very few reactions. The respiratory aspect has definitely been alleviated. I'll continue to take it."

Tim Koenning, president of the Buford Business Alliance, met Volzhskiy at a Kiwanis Club meeting when Volzhskiy spoke to the group about the many benefits of bees. As someone who'd always believed in the healing properties of honey and been aware of the natural properties of bee products, Koenning accepted some honey and bee pollen from Volzhskiy.

He now takes a daily "scoop" of each and said this past spring he was unbothered by his typically seasonal allergies.

"It was totally surprising," he said.

He also now gets the propolis Volzhskiy sells.

"I swear by it (the propolis)," Koenning said. "Every time I feel a cold coming on, I use it or spray it."

Propolis is the substance created by bees for the construction, repair and maintenance of the hive. In the hive, bees use propolis to line the entire structure, as well as the cells that the queen bee lays her eggs in. From a nutritional standpoint, propolis has built-in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral qualities and is extremely high in nutrients required by the human body.

Volzhskiy sells the propolis, which is a brownish color and comes in a small bottle that resembles something from a juvenile chemistry set. It's sticky to the touch and bitter to the taste, and Volzhskiy said there are more than 150 different substances in it, some of which have yet to be identified.

Volzhskiy advises people to carry the small bottle of propolis with them or to keep it readily accessible, in case of emergency. He also advises using it to treat a plethora of conditions, from infections or abrasions on the skin to spraying it on your throat if you feel a cold or sore throat coming on.

For those who suffer from arthritis or are just looking for a little pain in their diet, there is always bee venom therapy, which is administered by apitherapists in the form of a direct bee sting or a variant of it.

Bee venom therapy might explain why when Volzhskiy was stung on the finger, which happens regularly, he called it "getting a shot of free medicine."

"I was once stung 400 times in a day, and my hand, instead of the hair on it you just saw the venom stucks all over. I took a knife and took them all out and then I slept for 16 hours," he says. "All my family was worried, but I felt great when I woke up."

Maybe he's lucky he woke up at all.

"It's (bee venom) a very powerful tool if you know how to use it," he says. "It can kill you or it can heal you."