BBKA Forum

British Beekeepers Association Official Forum 

  • 'Natural' beekeeping

  • share the funny, scary & the completely stupid things you've seen & heard
share the funny, scary & the completely stupid things you've seen & heard
 #7146  by Don Ember
 14 May 2020, 18:43
Call me naive, but I have only just come across 'natural' beekeepers, who buy what seem very expensive 'natural' beehives and let the bees get on with it. This seems a recipe for huge numbers of swarms and potential spread of disease, with no apparent responsibility for what happens. I came across, on Twitter, the proud new owner of a 'natural' hive on a tripod and, when I asked him about prevention of swarms, he freely admitted that he knew nothing of that. Forgive me for being behind the curve on this development.
 #7149  by NigelP
 14 May 2020, 19:12
Don, welcome to forum.
The only natural beekeeping is non intervention as in feral bees living i(and frequently dying) in the wilds. You are spot on, taking this approach to keeping bees in your back garden shows an irresponsibility driven by lack of education as to what is needed to keep bees. If you keep livestock you need to take a responsibility for their management and welfare.
You are not naive, far from it.
 #7151  by Don Ember
 14 May 2020, 19:21
Nigel, thank you for the reassurance. I like to think of myself as a responsible beekeeper and am 'on' full alert as always at this time of year, with swarm control absolutely top priority. Expansion has been very rapid this spring, with so much dry weather. I don't want to lose good queens and crop and I NEVER want to spray swarms around the neighbourhood. May I wish everyone well, btw, for I have been a transient visitor over quite a number of years now. Glad to find Adam still very active.
Best wishes to you all from me.
 #7153  by NigelP
 14 May 2020, 19:42
Please stop being transigent...stay and post more frequently.
I for one really enjoy reading others trials, experiences and the odd success story. It's a life long learning process.
I'm currently having a disaster of a season regarding swarming. Fortunately most (not all) of my queens are clipped so we have retained workforces, but with swarm fever.
"Natural" beekeeping would have seen several swarms emerge and subsequently (judging by number of queen cells I've knocked down) many more caste swarms afterwards.....
It happens.
 #7155  by Patrick
 14 May 2020, 20:36
Don, you touch on a subject close to my heart also. A significant change occurred after the BBKA campaign in 2008 regarding cuts to bee disease research at the NBU. It gained a tremendous amount of publicity and lots of folk wanted to help out. A lot of associations were totally overwhelmed by the numbers wishing to start. I think the BBKA was about 6-8000 members nationally when I started.

It has meant lots of people searched out a lot of advice from many different quarters. Some better than others. I love the idea of “do nothing” beekeeping but even doing nothing has consequences and not all of them good for bees or people, in my view.

However there are plenty of options aside from the National standard route and I don’t think many of them are well served by traditional routes. This left the market wide open for others and some of it is, ahem, suboptimal. What I think is unhelpful is the antagonism between the different methods as it means we end up not learning from each other as well as we might. It’s a shame.
 #7156  by Don Ember
 14 May 2020, 21:04
Thank you for this. My first reaction to something I haven't come across before is to put it alongside the knowledge I have. I don't assume that I know best and simply want to question it and draw my own conclusions on the basis of new information. I read up on things to support that. In this case, I expressed no antagonism; in fact, I understood the enthusiasm of the new owner of his natural hive and the desire to fill his garden with pollinators. However, I wanted to raise the matter here, because there are lots of people with far more beekeeping experience than I, and this 'natural' approach was entirely new to me. I started out with no desire to gain a honey crop; I wanted to explore and learn. Over time, and with my fair share of attendant mistakes, I have managed a kind of equilibrium in my apiary,, with both calm and reliable bees and an appropriate crop. Managing swarming is very important to me, as is my relationship with everyone in my local community. The two are interconnected. I'd hate to think that 'natural' beekeeping by someone locally would change all that.
 #7157  by Don Ember
 14 May 2020, 21:09
Nigel, thank you. I'll try to be more present in future! I have to say that the lockdown has made my presence in the apiary a more certain thing this year, but I've been caught out so many times by queens who don't behave according to the book that I'm still on tenterhooks! ;) Happy days. Best wishes!
 #7160  by Patrick
 14 May 2020, 22:23
Hi Don, sorry my remark about antagonism wasn’t directed at you -rather the opposite.

I have too frequently been told in no uncertain terms how wrong my beekeeping is by folk who have not even kept bees yet themselves. Such is the certainty of their view no useful dialogue is possible. Both parties lose out.

Swarm control if keeping bees in populated areas is in my view a social responsibility. Yes we may fail occasionally, but as I was once memorably told, we call ourselves beekeepers not bee flyer-awayers 😁
 #7161  by Don Ember
 15 May 2020, 08:43
Patrick, I understand you very well. Thank you. I never engage in altercation, especially on Twitter ;), as that gets nowhere. The spectacle of a swarm is pretty wonderful, I know, but I share your view that the beekeeper should be more responsible than to allow them to happen as a regular occurrence! :D
 #7391  by AdamD
 25 May 2020, 20:29
I somehow missed this thread.
There was a natural beekeeper near me who bought bees in spring, they swarmed in the summer, he didn't treat for disease and then he bought some more the next year as they had died. I am not sure for how many years this went on for.