Honeybees at the Hackney Forest Garden
Keeping honeybees has gone through an image change lately - from eccentric to green and cool.
What comes as a surprise to most people is that an increasing number of beekeepers have doubts about mainstream beekeeping methods, and indeed suspect they may contribute to the honeybee's difficulties. People are exploring a cluster of alternatives, which tend to get called Natural or Sustainable beekeeping.
Beekeeping, like all animal husbandry, has always been based on close knowledge of honeybees and using that knowledge to exploit their behaviour. Modern scientific instrumentation has allowed twenty-first century researchers to begin observing honeybees much more closely inside the hive, and in flight. Much of the new information seems to support the questions alternative beekeepers are asking. We have many more questions than answers, but the questions are all very interesting.
At the marsh we started in June 2009 with more or less mainstream methods and have moved since towards alternatives. At the moment we have two Warré hives. This is a system which aims to minimise opening of the hive and other kinds of interference. It provides top bars on which honeybees can build the shape and size of comb they choose. As time permits we would like to explore other possibilities such as horizontal top bar hives.
We occasionally run skillshare days and help with courses at OrganicLea, and these will be advertised on our mailing list. If you are seriously thinking about keeping honeybees (or are a beekeeper yourself) then you are very welcome to come and see what we do and have a chat. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry, we don't sell honey!
Old hive to new - National hive in background, Warré at front
Bees have started to build foundation-free comb on this top bar
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