About Natural Beekeeping

This site is dedicated to natural beekeeping and diarising my experiences trying to achieve stronger heathier bees.

Giving Honey Bees a Break

I like the idea of bees just getting on with their stuff. In my experience human interventions are generally at the cost of nature. Nature has a way of sorting itself out and in my view does not need us! So my first resolution is to minimise my intervention in the hive and where possible just leave them to get on with it. As a beginner, this may be a bit idealistic but my life experience and belief has been to trust nature, and to look holistically at issues to find a solution. If in doubt – leave it to the bees to do what they want. My primary goal is to have healthy bees, my secondary goal is to have fun, enjoy working with honey bees and to be rewarded with some honey!

Avoiding Chemicals in the Hive

I personally avoid food that has chemicals in it so why would I polute a hive with chemicals? I get that there are some nasty pests and diseases out there that are currently causing major problems for honey bees – but I do not see medications and chemicals as the answer. There are many other successful beekeepers out there who are keeping bees without using chemicals, using natural methods to control honey bee pests and diseases. This site is about exploring those natural measures and sharing the knowledge with other beekeepers.

Let Nature Select Genetically Strong Honey Bees

The risk I take is that my bees will not survive and whilst that would be very upsetting – perhaps it is the right thing? Bees need to adapt ( where they can ) to their changing environment. Pests like Varroa weaken honey bee colonies and spread viruses. To survive, Bees must be allowed to develop a genetic response to counter and survive this threat. Treating bees for these pests and re-queening from commercial stock, denies this opportunity. To quote Michael Bush, a strong advocate of natural bee-keeping, treating bees simply creates “weak dependent bees” and “strong resistant pests” – the exact opposite of what needs to be achieved.

Improving the Environment For Honey Bees

Of course no amount of “good husbandry” in the hive will protect honey bees from the environment. A toxic environment will kill bees. A barren environment will starve them. In the UK, honey bees in the “urban” environments are doing well. In the countryside, they are declining badly. So whilst pest like Varroa are serious – most of the evidence currently points to agriculture and farming methods as the primary cause of honey bee decline. The recent 2 year ban on neonicotinoid pesticides is a start and was implemented on the basis of very conclusive evidence. The fact that the UK government did not support that ban and in the US a new pesticide – highly toxic to honey bees has just been approved – says it all. When it comes to big business, do not expect our governments to be on the “right Side” – they will prevaricate and delay until a crisis forces their hand. But the issue may not just be pesticides, intensive farming methods have turned much of the countryside into green deserts that provide little or no forage for honey bees. Even small changes to the way we farm could have a profound impact for bees. So this site is dedicated to support efforts to improve the environment for honey bees and encourage more independent research.