Our food is in danger. One third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination and bees are responsible for about 80% of that. Imagine going for groceries only to find that 1/3 of the products that we eat every day have disappeared from the store shelves. What would you do?
We came to beekeeping with no preconceived notions about what to expect or how to do things. Before we knew it, we had a plan and had ordered our first bees. What we didn’t know was that we were doing something that can’t be done: we weren’t using standard hives, we didn’t have smokers and we weren’t giving our bees the standard treatment regimen of medications and chemicals.
The funny part is that you really don’t need any of those things. Conventional beekeepers, including all of our local association, are completely baffled by us. By all the conventional wisdom, we should have been wiped out before our second season. We weren’t. In fact, we came through the first winter with zero losses. Even the hive that we expected to lose came through with flying colours.
- Hives: Conventional beekeepers have standardized on a hive designed by Rev. L.L. Langstroth around 1850. That’s the typical white box that comes to mind when you think of a bee hive. It’s very convenient for the beekeeper (easily removed frames of comb, and boxes are added or removed at will), but it’s nothing like the hive that bees build in the wild.
- Chemical treatments: Conventional beekeepers are trapped on a chemical treadmill. Industry “wisdom” calls for a very busy treatment regimen. It’s an awful lot of extra work and disruption for the hive and none of it is necessary. We have a simple rule: if doing something in the hive means that we have to wear chemical-resistant gloves and a respirator, we don’t do it.
What we’re preaching here is nothing short of revolutionary. Hives that are more natural to the bees. No harsh chemicals in the hives. Treat the bees with respect and don’t take them for granted. It doesn’t sound radical does it?