Natural, low impact, holistic, bee-centric, bee-keeping
We respect the natural organic ‘collective intelligence’ of the bee society. Each bee society is a separate intelligent being with different characteristics and different responses. To varying degrees a person, a dog, a horse or a dolphin has an individual character. So too does a society of bees. A Bee hive or “honey bee society” is now recognised scientifically as a superorganism, which means that the whole community is regarded as an individual and that single bees, in that society are like the cells of a body with their various tasks.
When we had only a few bee societies we had a name for each one that related to the character of that society. “Ancy-bee” was one that was quick to take offence. “Ra” had a beautiful golden shimmer and was very kind and enjoyable to work with. “Stora-Bee” (stora means large here in Sweden), was a very large strong society and was quite intimidating to work on as she was very curious and in your face all the time but I was never stung by this society even when I made a clumsy mistake. I learnt a lot from “Stora-Bee” and because she was so forgiving, I practiced new procedures on her first. Then we had “Hair-bee”: all her bees were noticeably covered in a very fine silver hair. “Tibee” got her name because, in the autumn evening after we collected her from a local farmer, we had to wrap the bee hive in an old red quilt to keep her warm as the hive casing was a thin old wooden type. The next day, when we came to see her, she looked like an old Tibetan 🙂
We feed our bees pre-winter with certified organic sugar, because the other sugar on the market has had the sugar beet seeds treated with Neonicotinoids, a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Neonicotinoid use was linked in a range of studies to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and loss of birds due to a reduction in insect populations. In 2013, the European Union and a few non EU countries restricted the use of certain neonicotinoids. However in a EU compromise, in 2013 Neonicotinoid were not banned for treatment of sugar beet seeds as bees do not forage on sugar beet flowers even though bees are fed the actual sugar ??? !!! We only lost 1 out of 54 bee societies last winter* and we note too, our annual queen breading projects have been much more successful since we started using organic sugar.
* Note. In Sweden the average winter loss is 1 in 10 bee societies. More than 14% of England’s honeybee colonies died over the winter, in America it is now approaching 25% winter loss but now with a higher summer time loss an ‘