How I define Sustainable Beekeeping

Reader Contribution by Staff
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An 89 year old man attended our beekeeping club several months back, and didn’t say much, so after the meeting I pulled him aside to visit with him. I asked him about his bees, and he told me that he had two hives and has been keeping bees for over 50 yrs. I asked him how they were doing and with a bit of embarrassment and more like a confession he told me that he really didn’t medicate them, and that he just left them alone other than to harvest in the fall. So I asked him if his bees were surviving, and he said that he had all the honey that he and his friends could eat, and when one of his colonies died out, he simply catches a local swarm to repopulate the hive.

This is what the natural beekeeping trend is attracted to. Small hobby beekeepers who can supply friends, family, and maybe a farmers market, with delicious local honey, and enjoy the great hobby in the process.

The beekeeping process has become an industrial process, and I will briefly run through the list here, with more in-depth explanation in later posts.

Shipping queens and package bees from the southern states, rather than working with local genetics.

Feeding refined sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup rather than letting them keep and eat their own honey.

Making the bees live in a toxic environment.

Moving the bees around the country for pollination.

Placing the bees in a thin box rather than a hollow log environment.

And last but not least…they make the bees larger than nature intended.

All of these changes have consequences, and all these added together are weakening the colonies which attract mites and other pests, and the bees are dying. So…what do the commercial beekeepers do about it? They cry about this mysterious disorder and label it CCD, and then they stand in line for the government bail outs.

Now before you get as depressed as I often do about the situation, read my blog post from The Honey Bee Conservancy that may give you hope.