When I took up beekeeping this spring several of my friends looked at me like I had decided to take up snake charming. But really, the honeybee is a gentle creature (if unprovoked and you don’t do anything stupid to provoke them) away from the hive and will go to great lengths to avoid people and animals. They only get aggressive if they feel they need to protect the hive (story about this on another post so watch this space!). I have one Warre hive, which is a hive created for natural beekeeping. Basically the hive is similar to a hollowed-out log (although it is a beautiful thing and a work of art. Mine was handmade by my father, who is a luthier) so the bees draw their own comb. The idea is that bees have been doing their thing for thousands of years and they really don’t need a body coming along, taking their hive apart to check they are doing their job. Each time you open the hive the bees have to clean it up and regulate the temperature again, which puts a lot of pressure on them. The only thing you need to do is feed them sugar syrup until the flowers are in bloom and then leave them alone until the fall when you “harvest” one or two boxes for yourself.
For me, the honey is really a bonus. My reason for beekeeping was to help the bees. As many people know, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is threatening the bee population throughout the world. Beekeeping, in particular natural beekeeping, can help bring populations back.
If you’re interested in the Warre hive and natural beekeeping, you can download Emile Warre’s guide on natural beekeeping called Beekeeping for All at www.thewarrestore.com. Warre was a French monk and was very passionate about the bees. He says that beekeeping is good for the soul and keeps a man’s mind where it out to be instead of in the taverns! Good advice, I guess.
Warre and his “People’s Hive” See how lovely it is? Mine is in the orchard and it looks beautiful there.
My friend Russell, who produced my book trailer, wrote the following “facts” about bees.