This blog documents the story of the Bee Limerick Group and their quest to introduce honey bees back into the city centre of Limerick. Bee Limerick along with its partners are also involved in planting native Irish flowers, shrubs and trees to create a resilient urban ecology.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Non Violent Bee Keeping

Most people are aware that honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate, in what has come to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Besides Verroa Destructer that attacks Apis Cerana and Apis Mellifera, most literature focuses the blame on external factors outside the hive like increased pesticide use, changing farm practices and loss of biodiversity.

Bee hive ecology has developed over millions of years and a natural bee hive hanging from a tree looks nothing like the national bee hives developed by modern bee keepers. Natural bee hives evolution is clearly designed for increased hive resilience and survival of the hive. In contrast, the evolution of the modern bee hive is exclusively focussed on maximising honey production with little or no regard for bee well-being. It is clear that controlling bees for maximum honey production instead of giving them the room and freedom to create hive resilience is part of the CCD problem.  This logic was never questioned until bees started to collapse, pollination reduced and honey production began to dry up.

Natural bee hives are sophisticated fine tuned micro eco-systems where every creature plays his/her role....on the opposite spectrum modern bee keeping is little more than a bee factory where the bees are periodically dosed with chemicals, pulled apart for inspection, moved around and even have their drone stocks 'culled'  - all with the aim of maximising honey production. In a natural setting we need bees for honey and pollination and they don't actually need us for anything. So isn't it time we started developing modern bee keeping methods to consider more resilient hives and happier bees. Maybe if we start to give them what they need to thrive they will supply us with the 'goods and services' of pollination which we need for our own survival...and a little honey and wax too : ))

It is disempowering when I read about all those huge external pressures on honey bee populations - because in the short term I can do very little about that. Although we are beginning to address this with the bee friendly biodiversity network. - but if I start by asking the question - 'how can I reduce the internal stresses at the bee hive level to create more resilient hives and happier bees?' At least happy bees in a strong hive have a greater chance of dealing with mounting external pressures..... and give us a little more wiggle room to start addressing those broader issues.

Rather than researching this topic too much more I stumbled upon a great article by Philip Chandlier called Non Violent Bee Keeping for the Natural Bee Keeper. And it is really worth a read : )

1 comment:

  1. It once was so easy. Bees showed up up on our ranch long before I was born. My grandfather stacked peach boxes for them. We had a huge thriving hive until the orchards and vinyards were sold. The bees were sold at that time. Before then, their honey was never harvested; the bees polinated our trees and vines as well as other plants and flowers. Very unsophisticated, but it worked for us and the bees.