Natural beekeeping in the purest form is very different from the common beekeeping practices of today. Common practices in beekeeping generally practice frequent hive inspections, queen replacements, feeding, single cell size foundation, chemicals, and many other unnatural regiments that one would not find in a colony in the wild. While many progressive beekeepers would all have his or her own definition of the term natural and what natural beekeeping means there are some commonly accepted practices most would agree are in involved in natural beekeeping.
The organizations approach to bee keeping is to promote bee keeping methods that come from the natural perspective of the honey bees. Our goal is to provide the bees with a good environment in which to thrive with as little hive intervention as possible. We believe that the most important variable in determining hive success is by creating strong and diverse genetics that demonstrate survival without the use of chemical and article means. Here are some of the key ways that we are producing natural honeybee success:
Feral honeybee colonies in nature are almost always found in secluded areas and benefit from being left alone. The opening of hives to inspect colonies should be done gently and swiftly during warm, sunny weather, and with the realization that inspections are invasive and can be detrimental to the overall health of the hive.
This fact is supported in observing wild colonies as most build the hive in places such as hollow trees and other cavities that would be unlikely to be opened and observed.
Honeybees naturally reproduce when the hive becomes healthy enough that the colony decides to create new queen cells to produce a new queen and then 50 to 70 percent leave the hive to find a new home. The new queen that is left with the remainder of the bees begins mating flights where she seeks out areas where Drone bees are gathered and they commence fertilizing the new queen. The queen returns to the hive and carries on the old hive population. This process of reproduction is referred to as swarming and serves the purpose of populating and entire area with honeybees. Natural beekeeping allows for the beekeeper to use the natural process of bee reproduction to increase hive numbers by splitting strong colonies into new boxes just before or during the swarm process. Extra queen cells from the same strong colonies can be used to re-queen week colonies and prevent replacing queens every year and creating strong and diverse genetics.
Nectar and pollen gathered by the bees from the surrounding environment and transformed into honey and bee bread inside the hive is the only essential food for bees. Natural beekeepers want hives that are able to collect and produce enough honey and pollen stores to last through the winter. The feeding of sugar syrup, even during a derth or for winter preparation, is a controversial practice among natural beekeepers. Remember the end goal is to produce bees that have strong genetics to survive on their own with as little interference from the bee keeper as possible. If feeding is needed it should be done only when no other option is available and with real honey and pollen whenever possible.
A common practice with many beekeepers, both hobbyist and commercial, is to have an artificial foundation often made of plastic. Although the foundations allow for certain conveniences for the bee keeper they can have negative effects on the hive. Allowing the bees to build their own comb has a multitude of benefits for both the bees and the beekeeper. Natural Comb construction allows the bees to determine their own cell size, population mix, colony size and where to rear broad and new queens.
No chemicals are necessary to keep honeybees healthy. In fact, any use of chemicals to control pests
and/or diseases can have highly detrimental effects on the colony. If treatments must be used we encourage the use of Natural or Organic treatments that do not contain artificial additives and chemicals.