What is Sustainable Beekeeping?

Sustainable beekeeping is pursuing the responsible management of bees and prevailing the success of their honey at a steady rate. In modern history, we have taken honey from a natural process with limited equipment and transformed into a highly expensive, manufactured endeavor. There’s been a lot focus on reaping the most honey, and not on the health and longevity of the hives and bees themselves.

There are three main aspects to sustainability.

1. Supporng nature and its natural ecosystems. This includes the health and longevity of animals and their natural processes.

2. Meeng the needs of our human society, while sll making sure connuous success for generaons to come.

3. Ensuring we are using resources in the most ethical and eecve way.

Each of these pillars is vital to sustainability for the bees and humans alike.

  • Many of the fruits and vegetables we love require pollinaon.Avocados. Broccoli. Peaches. These and many more need bees’ pollinaon to grow and thrive.
  • Products we use everyday stem from bees pollinaon, like coon, and even their beeswax, which is used in variety of items like beauty products.

There are 10 principles that you should follow if sustainability is an important factor for you:

1) General principle: Keep bees for the bees’ sake and value them as pollinators rst, and honey producers second.

2) The migrang principle: Do not feed your bees exclusively with monoculture owers. Monculture planng requires a severe pest control, carried out in most cases with synthec pescides & herbicides, which poison your bees.

3) The bee race principle: In case you decide to purchase a queen bee: Become an expert about honey bee races before the purchase. However, your best choice would be to keep local bee races or likewise bee races that work well for beekeepers in your area.

4) The garden principle: Fill your garden or the surrounding environment of the hive with nectar and pollen-rich plants. Of course, refrain from using synthec pescides on your plants.

5) The feeding principle: Avoid using sugar-water, sugar syrup or honey from the supermarket to feed your bees. The feeding of everything else than their own honey should be only pracced in absolute emergency circumstances (lack of nectar). Allow bees to overwinter on their own honey instead of feeding a sugar substute.

6) The harvesng principle: Harvest honey only if there is excess honey and when there is sucient nectar ow.

7) The inspecon principle: Maintain the nest scent and warmth inside the bee’s home by opening the hive only if really needed.

8) The labelling principle:

Label your honey:

Help consumers to make the dierence between your high-quality product and commercial mass market honey. Write on the equee where the honey has been produced and put as many details as possible about the producon

Sele for mul-ower honey:

This means that you put your hives in places where the bees ideally can nd nectar and pollen from dierent kinds of owers. Don’t force your bees to produce honey from just one type of ower. Instead, they should be able to choose. Use glass pots for the honey, not plasc.

9) The smoking principle: Avoid smoking the bees, when possible and if the character or bee race allows it. The reason behind this is that smoking causes stress. Smoke produces the same escape-impulse on bees as it would to a re approaching the hive. What happens is that bees ll their bodies with as much nectar / honey as possible: They prepare for transferring the whole hive in a new locaon, far away from the “re”. This is the reason of why they struggle snging you, when you open the hive aer smoking it.

10) The hygiene principle:

Make life for parasites and diseases as dicult as possible: Don’t keep hives too close to each other. The minimum distance between hives should at least 1.5 meters. If hives are stocked one on the other or side by side, infected bees could easily fail the entry of their home and contaminate another (eventually healthy) colony.

Allow the bees to reproduce naturally by swarming. Do not cut the internal wings of your queen. By allowing the swarming, you also help to break the varroa cycle.

Sources:

1. Bees 4 Life

2. Pass The Honey

A poron of every purchase at Bee Kind Shop is donated to Pollinator Partnership and other non-prot organizaons that help save bee colonies around the globe.