Natural beekeeping is essentially the husbandry which enables bee colonies to live close to the way they would in nature rather than to manipulate them to live in ways that suit us.
Our primary interest is in assisting the Bee to survive and thrive as a wild creature rather than manipulating and controlling its behaviour to produce maximum honey.
The general principles of our Bee-centric or near-natural beekeeping are:
· Provide a well insulated hive made of natural chemical-free materials.
· Treat the bee colony as a single, complete organism. The super organism is not a box of parts to be swapped between different hives...
· Allow bees to make their own comb using their own unpolluted wax with cell sizes of their own choosing and to raise as many drones as they wish.
· Enable the colony to retain the pheromones and warmth in the nest environment; to optimize nest conditions and produce strong off spring..
· Minimize intrusion into the hive; this is disruptive, damaging and stressful.
· Allow bees to replace their own queens by supersedure or swarming and reproduce at their own impulse.
· Leave sufficient honey for colonies to sustain themselves through winter and periods of dearth. Do not routinely feed sugar which impairs the immune system..
· Maintain a density of colonies appropriate to local forage conditions.
· Avoid pesticide treatments and medications. Chemicals, damage bees, kill beneficial microorganisms and disrupt the chemical balance in the nest. Their use breeds more virulent pathogens and delays the development of adaptation and resistance to pathogens and pests.
· Maintain strong colonies. Cull weak or failing colonies to remove poor genetics as well as reduce risks of robbing and spread of disease. Do not prop up weak colonies
We seek to educate beekeepers about the needs of the Bee. The study of wild bee colonies, regular observation at the hive entrance, as well as talking to experienced beekeepers, will enable one to learn and understand different behaviour and recognize the health and development of the colony.
Bee-centric husbandry is practised in a range of hives including skeps, top-bar hives, framed hives and tree trunks. .Management interventions are informed by the behaviour of the bees not performed as a routine activity.
John Haverson Dec 2017