The natural beekeeping movement believes that bee hives are weakened by modern beekeeping and agricultural practices, such as crop spraying, hive movement, frequent hive inspections, artificial insemination of queens, routine medication, and sugar water feeding.
Practitioners of “natural beekeeping” tend to use variations of the top-bar hive, which is a simple design that retains the concept of having a movable comb without the use of frames or a foundation. The horizontal top-bar hive, as championed by Marty Hardison, Michael Bush, Philip Chandler, Dennis Murrell and others, can be seen as a modernization of hollow log hives, with the addition of wooden bars of specific width from which bees hang their combs. Its widespread adoption in recent years can be attributed to the publication in 2007 of The Barefoot Beekeeper by Philip Chandler, which challenged many aspects of modern beekeeping and offered the horizontal top-bar hive as a viable alternative to the ubiquitous Langstroth-style movable-frame hive.
The most popular vertical top-bar hive is the Warré hive, based on a design by the French priest Abbé Émile Warré (1867–1951) and popularized by Dr. David Heaf in his English translation of Warré’s book L’Apiculture pour Tous as Beekeeping For All.
Related to natural beekeeping, urban beekeeping is an attempt to revert to a less industrialized way of obtaining honey by utilizing small-scale colonies that pollinate urban gardens. Urban apiculture has undergone a renaissance in the first decade of the 21st century, and urban beekeeping is seen by many as a growing trend.
Some have found that “city bees” are actually healthier than “rural bees” because there are fewer pesticides and greater biodiversity in the urban gardens. Urban bees may fail to find forage, however, and homeowners can use their landscapes to help feed local bee populations by planting flowers that provide nectar and pollen. An environment of year-round, uninterrupted bloom creates an ideal environment for colony reproduction.
Urban beekeepers are testing modern types of beehives, testing for urban contest and ease of use. In 2015 the FlowHive appeared and in 2018 Beeing, a hive made in Italy, that allows the beekeeper to extract honey without having contact with the bees.
Urban beekeeping is the practice of keeping bee colonies in urban areas. It may also be referred to as hobby beekeeping or backyard beekeeping. Bees from city apiaries are said to be “healthier and more productive than their country cousins”. Their presence also provides cities with environmental and economic benefits.
Modern beekeepers have experimented with raising bees indoors, in a controlled environment or in indoor observation hives. This may be done for reasons of space and monitoring, or in the off-season. In the off-season, large commercial beekeepers may move colonies to “wintering” warehouses, with fixed temperature, light and humidity. This helps the bees remain healthy, but relatively dormant. These relatively dormant or “wintered” bees survive on stored honey, and new bees are not born.
Experiments in raising bees for longer durations indoors have looked into more detailed and varying environment controls. In 2015, MIT’s Synthetic Apiary project simulated springtime inside a closed environment, for a number of hives over the course of a winter. They provided food sources and simulated long days, and saw activity and reproduction levels comparable to the levels seen outdoors in warm weather. They concluded that such an indoor apiary could be sustained year-round if needed
Tips for Natural Beekeeping
- Keep Bees for the Bees’ sake and fee them as pollinators first (apicentric), and honey manufacturers second.
- Fill your lawn with nectar and pollen-wealthy flora (specifically flora that flower over February/March and winter), and don’t use chemicals.
- Allow bees to overwinter on their personal honey in preference to feeding a sugar substitute.
- Harvest extra honey in spring, summer time season and early autumn, most effective if there’s enough nectar flow.
- Maintain the nest heady fragrance and heat of the hive through beginning it most effective if truely needed.
- Allow the Bees to breed evidently through swarming.
- Don’t use chemical remedies for ailment and pest control.
- Don’t cull the drones.
- Choose hives that reflect herbal honeybee hives, inclusive of Kenyan Top Bar, Warré, Golden and Dome Hives.
- Avoid smoking the bees as this will reason undue stress.