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About Darwinian Beekeeping

The Philosophy

At Amazing Bees, we strive to grow healthy connections between people and their environment. Whether it is an interaction between the bees and their beekeepers, or the beekeeper and their customers, it must be beneficial for everyone involved. Most plants rely on bees for effective pollination, from the almonds and strawberries that we eat to the wildflowers and shrubs that sustain our songbirds and dormice. To achieve effective pollination everywhere we need a healthy population of both wild and kept honey bees.

Why Darwinian Beekeeping?

The single greatest threat posed to bees today is, ironically, that many bee keepers medicate their bees. In the short term, these chemicals kill parasites such as the varroa mite, but in the long term, the bees become dependent on their medication. When bees reproduce naturally, the colony splits and half of them move into a new cavity, such as a hollow tree, to establish a second colony. If kept bees settle in the wild, they will die without the medication they’ve come to depend on. The process of evolution means that routinely medicating our bees will not only lead to their dependence on treatments, but also the evolution of pests and diseases that are resistant to such treatments. Whilst treatment-free beekeeping leads to the evolution of naturally resilient bees, using medication means using a short-term fix at the cost of the long-term health of our honey bees.

Unmedicated populations are subject to natural selection and so develop immunity to pests and diseases through evolution. Thus, successful feral communities are compromised when their queen mates with drones from medicated colonies. This reintroduces vulnerability into the feral population and often results in the death of whole colonies. Since queen bees mate on the wing with drones from anywhere in a 10-mile radius there is no separation between the genetics of wild bees and our kept bees. The genetic contribution of kept bees to the wider local population can be beneficial or it can introduce susceptibility to pests and diseases.

Therefore, beekeepers have a responsibility for the genetic health of all the bees in their area. Ultimately, pesticides make both kept and feral bee colonies more vulnerable by rendering them dependent on keepers.

Amazing Bees and Darwinian Beekeeping

So, at Amazing Bees we practice and promote Darwinian Beekeeping. This means not using any chemical, biological or mechanical treatments for pests and disease. Darwinian Beekeepers use requeening and occasionally the ‘shook swarm’ method instead. In addition, Darwinian Beekeepers do not clip the queen’s wings as this prevents the natural reproduction of the colony. Though part of the skill of beekeeping is swarm prevention, some colonies will be lost to the wild. Medicated bees will die, but Darwinian-kept bees will thrive because of their natural resilience and boost the feral population.

No matter whether you already keep bees or are merely thinking about it, Amazing Bees offers free support and advice on easily and successfully becoming a Darwinian beekeeper. If 15 years ago, I knew what I know now, I would do many things differently. Learn from my mistakes for free.

If you don’t fancy a hive of your own, even buying a product from Darwinian beekeepers supports natural resilience in our honey bees. Visit our free directory of Darwinian beekeepers products and services.

If you can afford to do more, you could work with us to sponsor a beehive.