26 Mar 2012

Founder/Manager of the Garden, Mariëtte Tuohey, organised a festival to celebrate the completion of their magnificent wood fired over, officiated by the college principal, Kerrie Croft and Federal MP Anna Burke.

The Perm-api group manages the hives at the garden, which we also use as a demonstration/training site. There is currently an operational Langstroth hive and the intention is to install a Kenyan and a Warre hive for Spring 2012.

At the festival, we displayed the brand new Kenyan hive (built by Tony) and installed it in the apiary at the end of the day. There was a great deal of interest in beekeeping and in the hive (which looks very unusual) and the feedback was very positive on its simplicity and aesthetics.

The Pavilion with woodfired oven (back left)

Perm-api's corner and the Kenyan hive

14 Mar 2012

Out and about at the SLF

Between Friday and Sunday, late in February (2012), the Perm-Api group presented ourselves at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne. Permaculture Melbourne kindly allowed us some space on their stand in the 'Green Market'.

Many passers-by were drawn to our bee covered demo hive - not live bees, just paper cutouts :-). There were lots of stories told and questions asked about beekeeping and we presented Natural Beekeeping methods and equipment, using the empty hive for demonstrating some points. That hive is a Langstroth with a Warre roof, BTW. There is certainly a lot of interest in keeping bees these days. We handed out around 300 flyers (1 + 2)

Many thanks to all of the group members who volunteered to help over the three days and to Andrew for providing a bee covered hive and some of his gorgeous local raw honey for tasting.

Claire and Warwick (Woz)

Tony & flyer
We were located close to the guys at VEG, who'd built their own Warre hive. As I was passing in my 'bee-suit', they asked if I'd pose for a picture . . .

Dan of VEG, Tony and the Warre
Perm-api is out and about in March - check out Permaculture Melbourne stands at your local sustainability fair for our flyers. Also check out our Events page for other appearances. We will soon have our own banners and will be showing demonstration Warre and Kenyan hives.

8 Mar 2012

Demeter (Organic) Beekeeping

Below is an extract from an upcoming World Conference on Organic Beekeeping. Demeter is one of the more widely recognised Organic standards.

It is interesting to compare the foundations of 'Organic Beekeeping Culture' with those of 'Natural Beekeeping' - seems like were talking about the same sorts of practices, only with slightly different ends in mind.

You'll find the latest version of the Demeter Beekeeping Standards here and a Q and A on Biodynamic Beekeeping.

I've highlighed (in italics) what I think may be some relevent points.



Guenter Friedmann, 89555 Küpfendorf-Steinheim, Germany
E-mail: Imkerei-Friedmann@t-online.de

Organic beekeeping mostly means production of honey and wax free from chemical residues. It is an integrated part of the general organic agricultural movement. This movement developed in the last decades to become a solid agricultural activity based on different values: dignity, sustainability, intrinsic value and residue free.

Commonly, organic beekeeping fits to only one of these components: free from chemical residues, and belongs to an earlier stage of organic agriculture. According to the basics of organic agriculture, it is necessary to develop organic beekeeping further to reach the Demeter values, especially in the current situation, when beekeeping comes into an existential crisis and bees die because of illness and weakness.

This presentation points out that in order to respect the dignity and the intrinsic value of bees, a new beekeeping practice should be created, which is in better agreement with bees’ nature and especially with regard to their biological requirements. This type of organic beekeeping corresponds not only to the ethical values mentioned above, but leads also to a better vitality and health of the colonies. This is confirmed by the experience in the SEKEM beekeeping project in Egypt (see www.sekem.com) and by my experience as a Demeter professional beekeeper in Germany for more than 15 years.

Demeter beekeeping, founded in 1995, is very natural beekeeping. The Demeter beekeepers do not focus directly on honey production. They look first at the needs and the biological requirements of their bees. Consequently, the basics of Demeter Beekeeping are:
  1. Rearing new queens and new colonies within a natural swarming process, and
  2. Use of natural comb building, at least in the brood chamber.
After 15 years of Demeter beekeeping, I can conclude that this beekeeping can be easily practiced. Honey production lies about 30% less than the intensive, conventional level, but colonies and queens are strong and vital. It is possible to see the beginning of a substantially self-regulative process, leading to a better equilibrium and harmony of the bee colonies. It can also be observed, that the bees develop defence strategies against enemies like wasps or hornets.

Thus, Demeter beekeeping could be the first step to improve the vitality of the bees. It could be the first step to help bees resist diseases by themselves.


7 Mar 2012

NB in the UK

The UK is very active in the Natural Beekeeping space - but not forgetting the many proponents in Europe and the US too . . .

FYI - here is a communication from Phil Chandler of Kenyan TB hive fame:

From Phil Chandler . . .

This email is only relevant to UK readers or those prepared to travel here
for beekeeping events!


We are launching South Devon Friends of the Bees this Tuesday the 6th of
March at the Kingsbridge Inn, Totnes. Please aim to arrive before 7.30, buy
a drink at the bar and head for the back room.

This will be a monthly meeting - the FIRST TUESDAY of every month (with the
possible exception of January) which will - we hope - become a regular
contact point for everyone in the area with an interest in bees and

We have an apiary set up, which will be available for small groups to get
some practical experience. We also hope to be able to provide at least some
beginners with bees, beginning 2013. Details at the meeting.


As of now, there are a few places still available for a weekend beginners
course at Radford Mill, nr Midsomer Norton, Somerset from Friday March 9th @
7pm to Sunday 11th - take advantage if you can and call Richard Fox 07908
088369 for details.


A rare event: I will be giving a talk in London on Sunday 18th March at the
The Crown & Greyhound, 73 Dulwich Village, East Dulwich, London SE21 7BJ -
starts at 4.00pm - £5 ticket on the door.


On May 1st I will be holding a one-day top bar hive session at Carlingcott
Pharmaculture Orchard - courtesy of well-known medical herbalist Zoe Hawes -
see http://www.zoehawes.co.uk - details to be announced soon.


Starting in April, I will be running weekend workshops at Embercombe in
South Devon, Welcombe in North Devon and Briscall Hall near Chorley, Lancs.
See http://www.biobees.com/training.php for details.


This year, we would love to see Friends of the Bees groups springing up all
over the place. Keep an eye on the web site for news and how we may be able
to help you start a group in your area.

Wishing you a great beekeeping season,
Phil Chandler