Bee friendly?

Why 'Bee friendly' or 'Natural' or 'Sustainable' bee keeping? Isn't all bee-keeping natural and sustainable? When one starts out as a beginner/hobbyist beekeeper, one is tempted to think so.

As beginners and students, we may be provided with a particular set of established rules or methods, from experienced teachers, which are often accepted without question. There is great merit in this (humble) approach to learning. But it turns out that while there are some good common principles and practices, there isn't only 'one right way' to keep bees. We have alternatives available to us.

In recent years, it has become apparent that we have some significant issues around the sustainability of the way we humans live on planet Earth. This may also be applied to how we live and work with bees.

In areas such as the US and Europe, colonies have been collapsing (CCD) in huge numbers. Scientific research has been unable to identify a single, specific cause for this. Growing opinion is that it may be the result of a combination of man-made impacts which are stressing the bees and weakening their immune systems. By doing so they fall prey to any number or combination of maladies. Underlying this is our human attitude towards our relationship with the natural world.

Much of the training (and books) available to new, hobbyist beekeepers are based on practices used in the commercial beekeeping world. These practices may be necessary for hardworking professional beekeepers (apiarists) to make a living - especially when honey as a vastly under-priced/undervalued food commodity - but they are less appropriate to those of us who'd like the simple pleasure of keeping bees in our gardens.

Natural, bee-friendly beekeeping aims to provide an alternative to commercial approaches. This offers benefits for the keepers and the bees themselves and helps us prepare for the (inevitable?) arrival of the varroa mite on our shores.

Here's an article or two on sustainability in beekeeping & more.

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