Our journey with bees
When we started keeping bees seven years ago, we had a conventional French Dadant hive in our garden. A wooden box, with waxed frames that we opened up and checked every ten days or so. We were told to do this by other beekeepers and the many books we read, and thought this was necessary and the only way to keep bees. We looked at the brood, searched for the queen and swarm cells, checked honey and pollen stores, planned on controlling drone numbers and treating chemically against varroa mites...
We soon started to feel that what we were doing was not right! And the bees let us know too..
Since those early days we have switched to keeping our bees in a more beecentric, natural and sustainable way. We have learned we must respect the bees, that bees know better then us what their needs are.
We now provide them with suitable homes, preferably placed high in trees (high hiving), far removed from the thin skinned filing boxes commercial beekeepers use. Together with the fact we accept only the tiniest amount of honey, if any at all, and we don't continuously interfere in the hive, our bees are surviving without the need for treatment with any chemicals or essential oils. In other words we believe in bee guardianship, rather than beekeeping.
The more we learned about this way of caring for the bees, the more apparent it became how important it is to aim to provide good beehomes all around us. In our rewilding program we have set up numerous hives in a 50 kilometre radius around where we live. Over the last three years, we have designed a hive to catch feral survivor bees when they swarm in the springtime. The bees themselves find the hives and choose them as a suitable location to establish the colony. We sell our hives to people who are interested in this beecentric way of beekeeping and we share our knowledge and experiences.