We decided to keep bees, not to harvest their honey, but to do what we can to help build up the world’s bee population, which has shown an alarming decline over recent years. We are using the ‘natural beekeeping’ methods advocated by Phil Chandler, author of ‘The Barefoot Beekeeper’ because it seems to us that they are the best for the bees.
Natural beekeeping is bee-centred. Its basic premise is that the bee instinctively knows what is needed for the growth and prosperity of its unique colony. The beekeeper’s part in this is, through careful and intelligent observation, to work with the bees to provide the optimum conditions for them to follow their natural instincts to build a strong and healthy hive.
The type of hive we are using is a Horizontal Top Bar Hive, as this has certain advantages for the beginner, which may be explained as follows:
– you will have the opportunity and the means to observe bees close up without unduly disturbing them, which enables you to learn about natural bee behaviour, rather than behaviour that results from attempting to force bees to comply with human plans
– you will have to learn to handle comb and bees gently from the start
– you will learn how bees build comb faster and to their own design without ‘help’ from man-made foundation
– you will learn to appreciate and observe the natural rhythm of colony expansion and contraction according to the seasons, which can be seen in a Horizontal Top Bar Hive more clearly than in any other type of hive
– you will be able to see comb being built without disturbing the bees at work, which is almost impossible in other types of hive
– you will be able to perform operations like splitting and artificial swarming – should you choose to do so – without having to lift heavy boxes
– you will be able to build your own hives and make or improvise your own equipment without having to spend a fortune
– you will be able to adapt your hives to suit your height and mobility, so that you can work at a convenient height and you never have to lift or carry more than is comfortable
And it is better for bees because:
– it trains the beekeeper to work in ways that respect the needs of the bees
– it allows bees to behave naturally, including building comb the way they want it and raising as many drones as they feel they need.
For more information you can download an article on Natural Beekeeping with a Top Bar Hive or go to these websites:
Or if you have any questions get in touch with us via the ‘Leave a Reply’ box below.
Phil Chandler runs courses in Natural Beekeeping twice a year at Brinscall Hall. See our Courses and Workshops page for more details.