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Photo courtesy of David Heaf
The Hampshire Natural Bees Group is an informal group of people whose aim is to support honeybees and wild bees as well as improve their environment. We advocate ’natural’ beekeeping using bee-friendly, bee-appropriate methods. Our members keep honeybees to promote bee health and welfare rather than maximize honey production.

Supporting bees can be achieved in several ways. These range from simply being more bee-aware in your garden, planting bee friendly plants and not using pesticides and poisons through to providing habitat and housing for bees by leaving areas of ground undisturbed, putting up ‘bee-hotels’ or maintaining a beehive.

We started meeting in 2009 and now get together every 2 or 3 months, at different venues, to learn about bees and their nature with thought and discussion about how best to care for them. Members are mainly from Hampshire, with a few from Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Dorset and Surrey. Within the area, people have been getting together in local groups to help each other. Some BBKA Associations have natural beekeepers in their membership and tolerate our different approach. We encourage attendance at lectures and apiary meetings to learn about, and see, bees in a way that is less likely in non-intrusive husbandry.

The approach we have adopted is one of education about bees and their nature, with thought and discussion on how best to care for them, rather than training in a particular husbandry and hive type. Members use a range of hives including vertical and horizontal top bar hives, straw skeps and framed hives. Information is available from experienced beekeepers, conservationists, courses, web-sites and a growing number of books on natural beekeeping.

Members of the group communicate using a restricted email list and forum. There are no subs or fees; any event, which incurs costs, is self-funding. If you are considering looking after bees yourself, why not come along and meet us and see what you think?

 John Haverson                                                                                                               January 2015