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'Natural' beekeepers killing bees

On 27 Oct 2012 at 2:39pm Buzz Aldrin wrote:
There seems to be a surge of so-called natural beekeepers (there was a mad German one on Countryfile last week) who seem to have no idea how they're (lack of) management of the bees are causing diseases to spread like wildfire to such an extent that there are very few wild (feral) bees left in the UK.
They call themselves 'natural' beekeepers whereas the should really be called 'unmanaged' beekeepers.
Here's why - if you had a calf and stuck it in a small area behind your house and didn't do anything apart from ensure it had grass and water what could happen. Without medication or intervention it's likely to die or, at least, fail to thrive.
30-50 years ago our bees were fine - they were at one with the various diseases and thrived in either hollow trees or man-made hives.
Then along came the varroa mite from Asia. Their host bees coped with them and there was equilibrium. Sadly varroa mites arrived in the UK in 1992 and our native bees (and those from Europe) couldn't cope. Their life cycles differ from the Asian Bees to such an extent that there is no equilibrium and our bees started to suffer. At first medicine kept the varroa at bay but the mite gained resistance so now we can only manage varroa levels to help the bees cope - we use thymol (from Thyme) and weak acids to knock down the mites. We even sprinkle icing sugar on the bees to encourage them to groom off the mites. No cure but it does keep the levls down.
So back to the 'unmanaged' beekeepers - what do they do when the mite strikes (all colonies have them as the drones (honey bee males) will wander freely from hive to hive)? Exactly, nothing! So the varroa load increases and the colony will become weaker. Unfortunately any nearby hives will also be affected (remember those pesky drones) be they managed or feral.
So, there's the problem. These beekeepers can claim to be natural but they're not really (unless they keep them in a hollow tree) and they're causing problems for the rest of the country whilst eating tofu and living the good life.
On 27 Oct 2012 at 2:41pm Buzz Aldrin wrote:
sorry - forgot the link.
Heard today of an unmanaged beekeeper who was passing her bees to another - turned out that they had a terrible dose EFB (a diseases that has to be notified to DEFRA) and the bees had to be destroyed and the equipment burned.

Check it out here »
On 27 Oct 2012 at 3:31pm Judge Montal wrote:
I looked to buy some Honey yesterday, all the supermarkets seam to stock are one or two brands. I wanted to buy really good English Honey but in the end I plummeted for the Wilkins & Sons "MANUKA ACTIVE 10+ HONEY from The unspoiled wilds of New Zealand" at a cost of £12.00 !!
Anyone tell me what Manuka Active 10+ means?
I haven't dared open it, I just keep looking at it thinking wow that must good!
Is that an example of what has become of British Bees we have to go to New Zealand
for stocks of Honey.
On 27 Oct 2012 at 3:50pm Buzz Aldrin wrote:
Manuka honey is made from tea tree - considered a weed in the 60s they suddenly discovered it had special (and tangible) properties - tea tree oil and, as you have just bought, Manuka (maori name for the plant) Honey. The figure is a measure of its healing properties. Great if you need healing, not so good if you want a nice taste.
So where to go to get nice, local honey? This year was a poor year for honey - drought and rain lead to a lack of forage so it's in short suplly otherwise I'd sell you some. However, get yourself to Paynes in Hassocks (link below) for a most amazing selection of local (and world) honey - much better than the over-processed own-brand honeys. [I will buy Rowse Honey at a push, otherwise it's farm shops, corner shops and local events with stalls for me when I run out. Expect to pay over £5 for a 1lb jar but worth every penny. 'Sposed to be good for Hayfever too!]

Check it out here »
On 27 Oct 2012 at 4:59pm Judge Montal wrote:
Thanks Buzz Aldrin you have been very informative.
I'll look into going to Paynes in West Sussex for my Honey supplies in future.
On 27 Oct 2012 at 5:09pm Bongo wrote:
Rowse produce the jars of most of the branded honey in the shops. 'Organic' honey is a nonsense - all honey is organic, it's the cleaning/processing that makes it contaminated.
Go for locally produced honey. Yum - even with bits if bee in it
On 27 Oct 2012 at 5:19pm Buzz Aldrin wrote:
Hmm - how can any honey be 'organic'? You have no idea where the blees have gone for nectar - they could have found flowers in a garden where the owner uses artificial fertlisers. The 'cleaning' of honey entails filtering through a course stainless steel or plastic mesh and then through a finer one. Not sure how that can turn a honey non-organic Bongo. It's this sort of misinformation that the unmanaged beekeepers spout, effectively misleading the public into believing 4 legs good, 2 legs bad!..
Near me a 'leave alone' beekeeper lost both his colonies for reasons unknown. As most of his neighbouring beekeepers were struggling to keep them alive through the cr@p summer by feeding and nurturing one can only assume they starved or succumbed to disease. How caring! If it was a clf the RSPCA would have been involved...
On 27 Oct 2012 at 5:34pm Pete wrote:
Buzz, have you been on Mastermind ? What a knowledge you have of bees.
On 27 Oct 2012 at 7:08pm Stripes wrote:
You can get a cd of wasp sounds , I bought one and could hear nothing at all so I took it back , and was very embarrassed when I was told I must have been playing the "B" side, Oldie but goodie lol babes
On 28 Oct 2012 at 1:24am SHS wrote:
Thanks Buzz Aldrin, it's good to hear the other side of the story. I've always been in favour of 'natural bee-keeping' but this opinion has been based almost entirely on no more than the use of the word 'natural' on one side and the word 'chemicals' on the other. Instinct distorted by media stories? It's the information missed out that is often so important. I agree, buy locally made honey & support local entrepreneurs, regardless of any other labels. Aren't Paynes local? Any others? Where can we get it?
On 28 Oct 2012 at 3:48pm Buzz Aldrin wrote:
It is a worry to us beekeepers - I can understand the reasoning behind the 'natural' beekeepers stance but there has to be a time when you face up to the changing circumstances in the country...
Paynes are in Hassocks (just past the traffic lights on the way to Hurstpeirpoint) but you can buy local honey at most farm shops or village stores. By law the seller has to have their address or some means of contacting them on the label so read the label before you buy to make sure it is local.
On 28 Oct 2012 at 7:31pm Morrigan wrote:
If memory serves, Sherlock Holmes retired to the Sussex coast to keep bees. Exactly how old are you, Mr. Aldrin?
On 28 May 2016 at 1:55pm feebee wrote:
The thinking, and 'facts', behind Buzz's assertions are highly questionable in my opinion.
The nature of causality is a complex one and Buzz's assertion that the spread of bee diseases can be blamed on natural beekeepers' methodology is deeply flawed. It is incorrect to suggest that natural beekeeping is inherently irresponsible (although there are just as likely to be irresponsible natural beekeepers as ... how would you descibe you and yours - unnatural? non-natural beekeepers? ;-) In fact, natural beekeeping methodology DOES manage the bee colony, but in such a way that allows the bees to follow their own instincts which have served these insects well for millenia. Essentially it provides an environment the bees are more likely to choose in the wild and advocates less intervention and disruption which all beekeepers know stresses the colony and takes the bees' energy away from reproducing and making honey. It seems to me that it is the fact natural beekeeping is more awkward in many respects for the beekeeper, and reduces honey yields, which is at the root of many objections to it.
In the early part of the 20th century Rudolf Steiner highlighted his concerns about the risks of over-management of bees as well as the use of pesticides and herbicides and predicted the collapse of bees and food production in 100 years. His wisdom and foresight are astonishing. I suggest it is time we recognise that it is the meddling with, and departure from, natural processes generally on this planet that is bringing it to its knees - I'm thinking of the element of global warming that seems attributable to man here also. Sustainability is the Buzz word....
Buzz even suggest that the loss of feral bees is down to lack of management of honey bees by natural beekeepers and the subsequent spread of disease, rather than unnatural farming practises which are likely to have compromised the health of many species - indeed, it is now harder, and more expensive, to buy crop seed that has not been covered in chemicals which are forced into the heart of plants so they cannot even be washed off and are contaminating our land! I cannot see any mechanism by which the health of humans is not as a consequence also being compromised by ingesting so many foreign chemicals, but the idea that the strain on the NHS is related to this somehow also can't be considered as the drug companies, and other financially-motivated individuals, cannot see the wood for the trees and put the good of the planet first - our slavery to 'science' as being the only authority, the only way to determine the existence of something, denies any useful examination of how the world really works.
I do hope you can give consideration to the idea that man cannot improve on nature, we are here to enjoy it, to use it to sustain life, but in order to do so we need to stand out of the way and let its processes take place naturally - over-management of bees is as likely a cause of the collapse of bee colonies as what you are mis-describing as 'unmanagement' by natural beekeepers.

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