Not bound to exploit. Not obsessed with production. No concern for profit extraction. Not driven by expansion. Treatment-free. Liaisez-faire. Non-industrial, anti-commercial beekeeping practices.
Beauty. Synergy. Cooperation. Respect. Reverence.
If you guessed these unconventional methods are far from popular around here, you’d be correct.
I don’t even have a bee yard. I do have 5 strong, sustained colonies (aiming for 7) scattered around several acres, which is the best beekeeping decision I’ve made in about 5 years.
It is the intense crowding of many colonies into one space that is so unnatural that it then commands chemical treatments for bee health. Artificial solutions are never the best solutions. I rarely even feed my bees, I consider that a treatment. On those rare occasions I do, because my observations have led me to suspect they are without reserves, sometimes I’ve been wrong, and the bees aren’t remotely interested in my offerings. They prefer to forage over taking my junk food.
By observing intently over time and looking to mimic nature in every way possible, I’ve come to realize how hopeless is commercial-style beekeeping for the small holder, just like all our industrial ‘solutions’ are a never-ending Ferris wheel of problems and solutions, all the way around. Industry comes to drive the entire tradition-turned-enterprise right into the ground.
Well, no thank you! And I haven’t had to buy bees for several years now, thanks to my new-old methods, which is certainly another motivator for commercial beekeeper’s scorn, considering they often make a good chuck of their profits from returning customers—that is beekeepers who follow commercial methods even for their handful of hives—buying nucs and packages and queens from the ‘Big Guys’ who sell themselves as the experts on all things bees.
In other words, the beekeeping industry strongly resembles the pharmaceutical industry, and pretty much every other global commercial industry. One model for all endeavors. One noose for all necks.
All but one of my hives is top-bar, another source for mocking by conventional beekeepers of all ages. But it does seem like alternative types are squeezing their way in through the cracks. And plenty of cracks there are. Not just top-bar fans.
I’m not on any of the popular social media sites, but I know there are treatment-free groups, full of curious kindred spirits, some with bee-loving pseudonyms instead of their real names, like poor, paranoid anti-vaxxers. Oh, lovely lurkers, come out of the shadows to stake your claim! You dare to brave the bees’ stings, surely some stings of misplaced criticism can’t scare you away?!
The bees are just one of many bustling with spring’s promises.
In other news, happy chicks are here, with no snakes in sight.
(In the new, ultra-high security coop within coop, 100% snake-proof. Right?)
We are still waiting on the piglets, the rest of the lambs, and the kids, while trying not to let our anticipation get the best of us!