BUYING HONEYBEES AND HIVES- ETHICAL AND ECOLOGICAL GUIDELINES

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Big Bee Creating the Landscape by S.Langpohl

Bello Uccello Honey Bee Sanctuary is a fully Demeter Certified Biodynamic Honeybee Apiary. What this means is that all intentions and actions with the honey bees and their hives and the products created from the sanctuary are based on spiritual, ethical and
ecological considerations. There are many Human Beings today who wish to be involved in being a Keeper of Bees. They want to help the bees. They are excited to connect with nature in a real way. All of this good Intention warms the Heart and affirms the shift of values and focus to a New Earth paradigm.

Breaking the addiction to consumerism is one of the signs of Freedom that everyone feels as they refuse to play the  binary-robotic role within a dehumanizing and mechanized old paradigm. It is not unusual for people to want to reflect the good and caring Human Values that they have within themselves by manifesting, in a real way, the goodwill which they hold . So taking care of honey bees and learning about nature is a choice that is being made by many and the first thing one has to consider is how do I learn about taking care of honey bees and where do I obtain my first hive.

You probably can see the Geography of Consumerism looming ahead in the first foot forward on this journey of wishing to be a Beekeeper. The equipment sold, the usual courses given, the local advice of a beekeeper, the books you may read and pretty well most things to do with beekeeping will, for the most part, be determined by the honey-factory model, so where does one begin? Let’s explore together this important question of Purchasing Honey Bees and Hives and some of the ethical and ecological considerations and questions posed.

Spring is the time when all to- be- Keepers of Bees start their journey of questing for bees for the first time in order to start the adventure of becoming a Keeper of Bees.
In today’s world, where everything seemingly can be purchased with the click of a button, why should it be any different for your new hive? Commercial bee operations will look at their winter losses from last year and will already have ordered their replacement bees from other countries or if possible, they will have simply split every hive which is worth splitting by inserting “spare” Queens from elsewhere,…….. and viola they have their numbers of hives back again.
From a biodynamic perspective the picture of how to do beekeeping is not so much focused on the industrial enslavement model, where everything is about time and money,  but rather where all thoughts are centered around an approach that seeks to create Spaces that will allow all life to unfold as naturally as possible.
This requires that we, as Keepers of Bees, consider always how we can support this organic unfoldment of new Space which is least disturbing to the organism
of the hive.

With regard to creating new colonies there are several ways one can go about this. Naturally, we as new keepers of bees, give our stamp of approval to the  method which reflects the considerations we hold most important – namely ethical, spiritual and ecological considerations.

                                                   CATCHING A FERAL SWARM

If you have ever seen honey bees in your own yard, by that I mean, apis mellifera, not bumble bees and not wild bees, then you most likely have a colony of honey bees nearby you, either from another beekeepers hive or from a feral hive of honey bees, living somewhere undetected, doing their wonderous work. Should this be the case, you may be able to  attract a swarm into your bait hive of choice, that you have installed at your premises. (check our blog entry on Russian Swarm Box).

Install your hive trap by mid-May with some frames in it and if you can get some old brood comb in a frame or just a junk piece of comb, place those in your bait box to create a good smell for the scout bees. If you are lucky the scout bees will inspect the new apartment -offering you have generously provided and give its approval and move the whole family to these new digs. Also  applying a few drops of 100% Young Living edible essential oil of Lemongrass will greatly increase your chance of attracting the scouts and convincing them to chose your location over other sites. This method of starting beekeeping would be the most natural way, but many factors do play a great role in the bees finding you. I would suggest this method be given a try, even if you are planning to purchase your bees later in the year, just to see what happens.

              ACQUIRING A HIVE FROM AN ETHICAL AND ECOLOGICAL APIARY

We will speak from our own experience from Bello Uccello Honey Bee Sanctuary, however there are others who take care of their bees respectfully, chemical free and
naturally.

Through our year with the bees, by the time June comes around, the bees will have made their minds up for various reasons, to prepare for the Rebirth of their Hive. When this happens we will see the building of Queen cups and Queen cells, and a change in the behaviour of the Hive Being. After I have read the situation as good as I can, I determine whether the Hive Being in front of me is wishing to create a new hive or whether they are about to  replace their mother.
At that time one of our choices is to not interfere with the natural process going on in the hive  and rather  prepare for the hiving of the one or the several swarms which may emerge from the original hive eventually. Or I will look through the hive and remove frames with queen cells, which are almost capped and place them in special mini-hives (nucleus boxes) with ample numbers of their sister bees and food so that this small bee family can function as a normal, natural hive. These nucleus colonies will continue their daily routine until their new Queen- to- Bee hatches from her Queen Cell and goes on her mating flight . She returns as the Queen of the Hive and the Mother of all new family members to come in this hives expansion.

Depending on the original Hive Beings own strength and energetic nature, I help create either one or two nucleus colonies with four frames each. After such a procedure the Mother Hive will have the same appearance as a swarmed hive will look due to the thousands of bees that have left home to live in new hives.

                List of Ethical and Ecological Considerations in New Hive Creation:

1. Rebirth of the Hive through swarming is our first choice for expansion
2. In the new hives all the bees are sisters and come from the original hive’s home
3. All Queen cells come from the Mother Hive and the family traits and hive Beingness is ….respected and the genetics maintained
4. Once the Queen is mated the new hive is a True  hive with all the bees related to each    other and to their new Queen.
5. The swarming process is not induced, but happens naturally
6. Energetically we have supported the bees in their going through the process of making Queen Cells and Swarm Preparations and it is an ecological call as to whether we leave the hive to swarm naturally or to help in the swarming process through the new colony creation noted above.
7. The Queen of the original hive and the new small hives is related to all the sisters and brothers of the hives including their new Queens.
8. The bees in the new small hives always have the original wax cell foundations which their family created with all of its subtly of connectedness and smell and communication.
9. these natural considerations over the years  have lead to regressed- sized -bees, close to their original size before the bee-factory-industry took hold. Regressed- sized- bees are able to fight off the varroah mites better and are the choice bees to have
10.Taking a beginners bee course is a pre-requisite to responsible beekeeping. You don’t buy your car before you learn to drive and it is as logical as that for why one should have a bee course first and then bees.
11.All of our bees have never had any chemicals, and have never been removed from their land for pollination services, nor any other bee-factory-industry unethical
actions.

                          PACKAGED BEES FROM BEE-FACTORY-INDUSTRY

Packaged bees are just as they sound, meaning that they are arriving in a screened box with one to three pounds of bees and an unrelated Queen Bee caged and suspended in this box, surrounded by the bees. Or as I have learned lately, they also can come in a cardboard mailing tube whereby the amount of  bees seem to be  reduced in numbers. When you choose a package of bees you are getting bees not attached to a comb, and therefore there will be no brood present and there will be nothing that they would consider their home body. Remember the wax foundation is the skeleton of the hive.

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Cardboard Mailing Tube

 

                           NUCLEUS COLONIES FROM BEE-FACTORY-INDUSTRY

In this version you are accepting bees which live on chemical-contaminated combs , the brood is present, and the unrelated Queen is suspended in a cage, between the frames, waiting to be released into the new colony at its new location. Nucleus colonies can come in 3, 4 or 5 frame versions depending what is offered. If you get a 5 frame version  it does not necessarily mean you get more bees, but just more food stored in this version.

                                   A  FULL SUPER HIVE FROM INDUSTRIAL MODEL

Occasionally beekeepers will sell full hives, usually Langstroth, and in this case you will most likely get a hive of ten frames per box. Depending who is offering this hive, it can consist of either one or two boxes of bees with frames and their Queen or a new unrelated introduced Queen.

For this version it would be good to have some experience as a beekeeper already, as the expansion of the hive will be strong and you will be facing many decisions which would better be made in the second year of beekeeping. When you get a small four- frame- hive you have time to observe and learn from the bees and most likely you will not have swarming the first year. You and the hive will grow together.

If the practice which happens often in Nova Scotia, is the rule, then such full -super hives being offered by commercial beekeeping operations usually are hives which have been trucked around for pollination services of many sites, have been exposed to many toxins and chemicals and were probably fed on GMO corn syrup/sugar and GMO pollen patties, by the time these stressed hives are offered for sale to you. Weakened and stressed
hives rarely live through the winter , just as they would not have survived with the seller. Get it:-}!

             List of Considerations in purchasing from the Bee Industrial Model:

1. Remember how we said you should take a beginners course first; well this is where the catch 22 happens. If you are not taking a Natural Beekeeping Course but the usual modern industrial farming method  beekeeping course , then what you will be told as “business as normal in the bee world “will be from a window of an enslavement model. Even wonderful beekeepers who love their bees, do not know they are involved in a system of commodification of life. This has been going on for over one hundred years and so the”normal” is far from normal. The equipment you will be told to buy, the way you take care of the bees with mite strips, fuming them with acids, making money on them, etc etc. will all be presented as the norm. There is nothing normal, ethical or ecological about that type of “norm”.

2. For all of the versions we have just mentioned, except where you catch your own swarm, or where you have been “gifted” with a swarm or given a chance to catch a swarm through a fire department etc , or you acquired a hive through a Demeter certified Apiary, you should know certain facts:
a) what you are purchasing is Called a Hive, and technically speaking it is a “hive” because man has the naming power to say this is a fact and name it so. But from
Nature’s Truth this bringing together of separated parts energetically and spiritually DOES NOT make a True Hive.

With the packaged bees version you will have what is called Shaken Bees. Shaken Bees means that a beekeeper will use a big funnel and will either shake the bees off of frames from one hive or several hives until the screened box is full enough to meet the appropriate “package weight” requirements.
b) the Queen Bee, which is not related to these shaken bees at all, and who more than likely was shipped from another country or continent, is caged and suspended among these displaced bees with a food supply so that they will not starve to death. Often our packaged bees here come from New Zealand for example and the Queen is usually Hawaiian. These bees are displaced, not related to each other, without their real mother and from a different climate and environment and then shipped to you.
c) if you have a commercial beekeeper in your area selling packaged bees the procedure is the same, less the transcontinental shipping.
As you can see, there are choices you can make and sometimes availability will force upon us paths that are not perfect at all, but it is very important to be aware what you are looking at, despite the claims of the industry and it’s sales pitch. And also once you are responsible for a Hive Being , you by allowing the bees to go back to their own ways, by enhancing their life force and treating them with care and love, Nature has a wonderful way of bouncing back and wishing to dance with you, the Keeper of Bees.

Remember every thought counts and every intention carried through your heart will effect all levels of life everywhere.

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