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Author Topic: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping  (Read 369 times)

Online Ben Framed

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Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« on: August 21, 2020, 11:07:43 am »
Food for thought.

Just some thoughts concerning Natural and Organic Beekeeping. When I was a boy I read of beekeepers in the Appalachian Mountains, who kept bees, (in my opinion), as naturally as could be kept. They kept bees in bee gums. For those of you who do not know what a bee gum is, it is a provided section of hollowed out tree, cut the proper height to allow bees room to prosper. No frames, no bars placed inside. The honey was removed the hard way. As far as pest, they did not have the problems of SHB or Varroa Destructor.

In my opinion, this was as close to natural beekeeping as one can get, short of robbing wild honey from the tree itself.  Anything further is not natural beekeeping. (IMHO) 

Organic along with treatment free, whether using a Top Bar hive, Langstroth, warre or some other MODERN management avenue, is a convenient modern way to keep our bees, with the added advantage of easier, efficient  management than the old bee gum days. Affording the beekeeper as well as the bees, a better chance of success and survival, (especially since the introduction of Varroa Destructor and SHB), while upping the volume of our honey production.

Isn't it great we have the convenient choices of well advanced ways to keep our bees, opposed to and considering the roadblocks of truly natural, and the less productive days and ways of natural beegum beekeeping?  With these modern ways we are afforded the options to take better care of our bees whether Organic, TF or other methods. We simply have to make our choices of method, with the goal in mind which we are attempting to achieve. 






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« Last Edit: August 21, 2020, 11:25:20 am by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2020, 09:20:31 am »
I don't see anything natural about tearing out comb from a tree.  I see it as more of a potential risk of destroying a hive.  About the only thing I see about using hive boxes and frames that is not natural is that the bees don't initially choose the space.  In the long run they do.  It is not until you add foundation and chemicals that it becomes unnatural.
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Offline SiWolKe

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2020, 12:46:03 pm »


I thought about this all 6 years I'm keeping bees.

IMO
Bees in trees or any space they choose are not kept as long as nobody interferes. The moment honey combs are taken, that changes. It's not natural anymore.

I lost 7 colonies to woodpeckers, which made me a future "protector" of bees and which will allow them to survive because of me helping them by netting over the hives in winter. Stop to natural.

Bees which are kept are surviving ( protected, fed, treated, insulated...) much better than honeybees living in the wild, just like wild animals live almost double time in a zoo.

To imitate the good influences coming from nature some, like me, change to horizontal and natural comb ( no gap and high honey dome), insulation almost like in a tree, promoting the microbiom by not treating with chemicals, no artificial food, no triggering by pollen substitute on honey flow strength and so on.
But it's not natural beekeeping, because I will feed with honey combs in case of emergency, I will protect them against weather and predators, give them queens or combine when the queens get lost.

The box itself, well, you can have bees in there and I call it natural as long as they are totally left alone by humans.
I only use the good sides and prevent the cruel parts of nature.

Offline Skeggley

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2020, 10:07:35 pm »
I live in an area with no SHB or varroa and there are 2 feral colony?s in tree hollows on my block, one has been there since I remember and the other used to die out each year during winter as water would funnel into the cavity, I have since added a piece of wood above it to redirect the water when it rains, it now survives winter. My plan was to do trap outs with this one to add to my apiary however I have learned that 4 hives pushes my time enough so I just let it go.
I call these natural but although I live near no crops or orchards cannot say that their feed is organic specifically but I?d say they are as natural and organic as possible although they are obviously not native so is it really even natural?
I do not treat my hived colony?s, I do not need to feed my hived colony?s. The wood bodies and frames are natural, the wax foundation is purely bees wax, the wires and nails are steel also natural. So if I did not remove honey or do the mandatory inspections would they then be natural, after all if a swarm naturally made a home out of an empty box would this be considered natural?
Obviously it would depend ones own beliefs. I?ve seen vegetables certified organic grown in green houses, under lights, even hydroponically. Would I call these organic? Natural?
If I remove fruit from a tree is it no longer organic or natural?
If I buy a native plant from the nursery and plant it at home is it natural?
Ultimately we farm bees for honey and if removing honey or doing swarm and general maintenance isn?t considered natural or organic then there is no natural beekeeping.
I consider myself a natural and organic gardener and beekeeper, others probably wouldn?t but do I care what others think?

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2020, 01:22:44 am »
>".Just some thoughts concerning Natural and Organic Beekeeping. When I was a boy I read of beekeepers in the Appalachian Mountains, who kept bees, (in my opinion), as naturally as could be kept. They kept bees in bee gums."
> In my opinion, this was as close to natural beekeeping as one can get[/color], short of robbing wild honey from the tree itself.  Anything further is not natural beekeeping. (IMHO)

Webster's
natural adjective
nat?​u?​ral | \ ˈna-chə-rəl  , ˈnach-rəl \
Definition of natural
B: living in or as if in a state of nature untouched by the influences of civilization and society.
c: having a form or appearance found in nature

> The wood bodies and frames are natural, the wax foundation is purely bees wax, the wires and nails are steel also natural. So if I did not remove honey or do the mandatory inspections would they then be natural, after all if a swarm naturally made a home out of an empty box would this be considered natural?
Obviously it would depend ones own beliefs

Obviously.   :wink:    As close to natural as you can get was the theme of my post. lol. Thanks for your comments Skeggley. ones own beliefs are respected. I see your points.





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« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 02:46:27 am by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2020, 02:33:02 am »
I don't see anything natural about tearing out comb from a tree. I see it as more of a potential risk of destroying a hive. About the only thing I see about using hive boxes and frames that is not natural is that the bees don't initially choose the space.  In the long run they do.  It is not until you add foundation and chemicals that it becomes unnatural.

Mr Bear might not agree with you about tearing comb out of a tree. I suppose he is a natural born animal?  Naturally a lover of honey? Doing what a natural born animal, born free in nature, which loves honey might do? tearing out comb from a tree?  lol. I do not think he would mind destroying a hive in this natural setting.
Just kidding Ace. I could not resist. I see your point. lol. Thanks for your comment.

Thanks for your thoughts.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2020, 02:37:04 am »
Thanks for your thoughts SiWolKe
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2020, 03:58:56 am »
Some questions:

is natural the same as organic?

a bear ( or woodpecker) taking apart a hive, can he be compared with man? His intent is coincidental? whereas the humans`is intentional?

Organic farming IME is not natural. Natural would be collecting weeds and herbs for food. Organic husbandry IME is not natural. Natural would be hunting.

Organic farming and husbandry orientates on natural circumstances and avoids chemicals, but not all. EU organic products allow a percentage of non organic ingredients.


Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2020, 05:16:53 am »
Some questions:

is natural the same as organic?

a bear ( or woodpecker) taking apart a hive, can he be compared with man? His intent is coincidental? whereas the humans`is intentional?

Organic farming IME is not natural. Natural would be collecting weeds and herbs for food. Organic husbandry IME is not natural. Natural would be hunting.

Organic farming and husbandry orientates on natural circumstances and avoids chemicals, but not all. EU organic products allow a percentage of non organic ingredients.

Answer: (NATURAL & ORGANIC BEEKEEPING METHODS) is the title of this heading in this section, in which we are now posting, the introduction of this heading was recognized in honor for this new topic. "Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping". Beekeeping as close to natural as you can get, is the theme of this topic.

I will not repute or shun your thoughts of farming, hunting, weeds or woodpeckers or other thoughts you may have, as spin off subjects. Therefore I politely ask that do you not redirect or hijack this topic, leading down a different avenue than was intended. I will remind you. Your thoughts and new subjects have proper headings in the FARMING & COUNTRY LIFE, GARDENING AROUND THE HOUSE, and OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FORUM headings.

These unrelated thoughts on ways of farming, weeds, hunting and nature, are very interesting. Each has the making for potentially very interesting conversation spinoff themes and topics. Each should be welcomed as new topics for the subjects in which you are interested in discussing. There is plenty of opportunity to discuss those subjects there. Farming, weeds, hunting, birds etc. I look forward to your, (breath of fresh air), new topics.




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« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 05:34:11 am by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2020, 08:53:21 am »
Mr Bear might not agree with you about tearing comb out of a tree.
The bear is an opportunist.  He/she does not intend for the hive to continue.
"Natural and Organic"  I suspect you will find in the archives many ideas and comments on this subject.  Along with a lot of arguments on what it is and isn't.  If you are interested in managed hives as close to natural and organic one would have to come up with a list of manipulations and put each task up to a vote on whether or not it fits the topic.  It is almost impossible to discuss it without argument.  A vote would tell you what most people think on the subject.
I consider my style of beekeeping strongly natural but not organic because I have no control what so ever on where they go or what they get and bring back to the hive.  My neighbor has beehives (probably where my swarm came from) and I do not have any idea what he is doing or has done to those hives.
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Offline SiWolKe

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2020, 11:02:03 am »
Seems I misunderstood.
You are right, Phillip. It's beekeeping methods. I'm sorry.
Correct me again if I'm straying  :smile:

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2020, 11:34:34 am »
>I don't see anything natural about tearing out comb from a tree. I see it as more of a potential risk of destroying a hive.

Well the good news is you do not have to worry about bears getting a whiff of your honey there in Palm Springs and doing what comes natural Ace, ripping out your hives lol 😁😁.     J/k my friend.

The old timers who used bee gums did risk loosing their hives when (robbing honey) Probably much more so than we who use modern methods and manipulations such as Langstroth for example.  As far as keeping bees, I have not seen any other method more natural than the old bee gum.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2020, 11:37:38 am »
Seems I misunderstood.
You are right, Phillip. It's beekeeping methods. I'm sorry.
Correct me again if I'm straying  :smile:

Thank you Sibylle. I look forward to your thought and topics.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2020, 08:51:03 am »
Well the good news is you do not have to worry about bears getting a whiff of your honey there in Palm Springs and doing what comes natural Ace, ripping out your hives lol 😁😁.   

Maybe not bears but a more powerful natural force, hurricanes.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline charentejohn

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2020, 08:19:02 am »
My father had great advice for me once, he said in any debate define your terms  :grin:   
So I would say I practice natural and organic beekeeping within the constraints of my hive choices and the surrounding environment.
So for better or worse....

I wanted my bees to live as natural a life as possible so chose a hive that I think they will find easy to manage (Warre 3 boxes).  I will not open the hive without good reason and will not use chemical treatments on them.  I will allow them to swarm and re-queen when they want and generally manage their own lives.  If they miscalculate something and die out I will let others (maybe their descendants ?) occupy the hive rather than install new bees myself (only if I really have to).
That said I may take a couple of Kg of honey in the future and consider sugar drizzling between frames if really necessary.  I have 'muzzles' against asian hornets which they wouldn't have but they don't notice them so no worse than long grass ?

My surroundings are far from organic but could be worse.  Monoculture and attendant spraying, but we do have gardens around and lots of various trees.  Ivy in the autumn and lime trees in the spring.  So not an organic environment around them but not bad for modern times. Some cattle and horse pasture but not much.

So I am as natural and organic as possible here.  We are spared the big stuff, bears and such, some wild boar but not that many and no problems that I know of.
Hopefully I am close to meeting my own criteria, should be as I set them  :happy:.
You must be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Gandhi

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2020, 08:34:09 am »
Have fun doing it as well. Good luck in your endeavor.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline Skeggley

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2020, 09:29:57 am »
Have you seen this site Phillip?
https://solarbeez.com/2014/08/11/bee-beard-is-back/
Yeah, I know, stick to topic.

Online Ben Framed

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2020, 09:42:56 am »
Have you seen this site Phillip?
https://solarbeez.com/2014/08/11/bee-beard-is-back/
Yeah, I know, stick to topic.

I took a quick look Skeggley. The pictures look like the old bee gums that I read about and was describing in the first post. I am thinking the book was titled Foxfire.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline charentejohn

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Re: Some Thoughts on Natural and Organic Beekeeping
« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2020, 10:57:47 am »
I have seen the log hives, lots of videos about, but they seem a lot of work.  More fun heavy woodworking than a perfect bee home.
I will me making a couple of hives to put in the trees around me.  When my hives swarm I will try to catch them and put them in there, or maybe other swarms will find them.  They will be sealed and 2m+ up the trees.
I am making them from 75mm (3") thick douglas fir boards as I have a local supplier.  They will be 'shoe box' shaped, imagine the box standing on one end back to the tree.  About 45L (12US gal) which should keep them swarming and a good size colony.
These are my backup bees and will be left completely alone to do what they like.  If I lose a colony I would hope a swarm would come from them, either way I am sure they will be happy there.

I am making it with corners as I am not totally convinced bees must have round spaces, I think they don't care. They end up in round spaces because they live in trees and trees are round.  They like the space behing shutters here and also between roof joists, ceiling and floorboards, a sort of fixed horizontal hive. 
They build comb in strips, sometimes in curves, but fitting comb into the small end of a curve must be tricky.  You can see what they did with an old box they lived in.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/WKVtpai1btREBAxd8  I will make the same general proportions only + 50% volume and way thicker walls.

A local french keeper told me (must be 60yrs ago or so) his father just kept bees in a vertical tube made from four wide planks with sticks in an X for supports. These supplied the family with honey.  The bees built down the tube and every so often he would scoop out a chunk of comb from the top and leave them to fix it and rebuild.  Otherwise left alone.  I looked it up and this was not uncommon. 
You must be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Gandhi