7 Feb 2012

More on sustainable beekeeping

I've been reading material on the Bees for Development website.

These folks are doing some serious thinking on what 'sustainable' and 'natural' beekeeping really mean. These terms are tossed around increasingly these days, often without too much thought or understanding. So perhaps it's worth reading?

Below is a snippet from http://www.beesfordevelopment.org/portal/article.php?id=2340:

What sustainable beekeeping means

What are the defining features of sustainable beekeeping? Ask most beekeepers and they will say they practise sustainable beekeeping. Do they? If we look at the three dimensions.

  1. Environment Most beekeepers understand that a healthy, bee friendly environment is necessary - and yet there are some stunning departures from this principle.
  2. Genetics The genetics debate is complicated. Many people are opposed to imports but it continues, and many people discuss breeding better bees - even though acquiring a strain of bee from outside your local area locks a beekeeper into non-sustainable practices (because subsequent generations will not breed true).
  3. Husbandry This debate is the least well understood. What are the key principles of natural beekeeping? Does it mean no foundation, no sugar or no manipulation? As frame hive beekeepers, we all believed we were natural beekeepers (most participants used frame hives before changing to methods that are more natural). Now we understand the bee colony is a super organism and cannot be broken open repeatedly. The public perceives all beekeeping to be natural and sustainable. This is an opportunity for different approaches. [my emphasis - see this post]

BfD proposed a vision for sustainability "The aim is healthy populations of locally adapted indigenous bees living in the wild and in apiaries of beekeepers"

[Of course the use of 'indigenous bees' in the vision here is problematic for us in Australia since European honey bees are not native to this country . . .]

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