What dead bees can teach us.
As Spring lengthens our days and we enjoy sunshine & snowdrops, the bees become busy from their hives.
Unless they don’t.
Beekeepers breathe a sigh of relief when their ‘girls’ are out collecting pollen to feed the growing brood. Packets of brightly coloured pollen attached to their hind legs as they return to the hive. Pollen baskets filled with sunshine to brighten the darkness inside the colony.
A silent hive is chilling. Months of cold and wet weather ensure that patience is the strength of the beekeeper. Trust that the colony inside are well, with enough honey to nourish them through the long dark weeks of winter.
As a naturopathic beekeeper, I believe in ‘Nature cure’. Minimal intervention, plenty of observation, and absolutely NO chemicals inside the hive.
Ten years ago I was a crazy woman, heretic in my views of no smoke, no sugar. Now the scientists are publishing papers confirming what I knew in my heart to be essential if we are to save the bees, is now proven to be what the bees’ need.
My own experience of a long dark winter, 7 years bed and wheelchair bound from Ehlers Danlos syndrome, taught me about patience, the effects of chemicals in my life, and the importance of truly healthy food. It was herbal medicine and plant based minerals that unlocked my code for health. My experiences then gave me new insights into beekeeping.
Removing all the honey for ourselves, replacing the bee’s summers work with liquid sugar or a block of fondant was inevitably going to result in sick bees.
Imagine our own children being fed white sugar for six months of the year… would it be any surprise if they were to get sick?
Smoking the hive to ‘calm the bees’ merely creates a stress response as the bees fear their home is on fire, or worse, their ‘danger ‘ pheromones are masked by the wafts of burning cardboard and wood chips.
Science tells us that when stressed, our digestive system is not an essential system, resources being concentrated on flight or fight ( sting).
Dead bees tell us something is wrong, or does it tell us nature is running its course. In the wild 50% of swarms die out in their first year. We see death as failure, however it’s Nature’s way of removing the weaker strains, ensuring the evolution of stronger healthier bees.
Losses of this level are only sustainable if sufficient colonies are allowed to mate openly and swarm freely. It’s time for us to learn from and listen to the bees. Their 130 million years of evolution has taught them how to survive, sadly our few hundred thousand years has merely challenged their survival by poisoning their land, their food sources and in recent years drenching their colonies with miticides and antibiotics in the hope of overcoming the natural order of things.
How can we help?
1.Provide chemical free plants for bees to feed on in your garden.
2. Look at pollen & nectar rich plants such as dandelions & brambles as food not weeds.
3. Buy chemical free food for yourself to support the farmers who are taking care of our soils to ensure a healthy future.
4. Watch the bees and learn!