Why Sustainability? Commercial vs. Mindful Beekeeping
Commercial practices harvest too much honey at once, which causes stress to the hive.
Commercial beekeepers feed the bees sugar water and high fructose corn syrup to keep the bees alive while they build new comb.
In commercial beekeeping, if the bees are sick, they are treated with antibiotics.
Commercial beekeepers practice artificial insemination to choose best genetics for the Queen.
The location of bees may be near mono cropped farms, which wipes out the diversity of flowers for bees to collect pollen from.
Commercial beekeepers heat honey at high temperatures after harvesting to make it easier to strain from the comb. High temperatures kill much of the beneficial enzymes and medicinal properties that is in the honey.
Often times the final product contains added corn syrup or sugars.
Bee, Human & Eco Friendly Beekeeping
We only harvest at a healthy pace for the bees to build new comb, which is stress free. Our bees are never fed sugar water or high fructose corn syrup.
If the bees are sick, we take the time to investigate and care for the issue without the use of antibiotics. Diatomaceous earth is placed in a tray below a screen, underneath the hive, so that beetles and mites die when they fall into it.
We believe the drones are best at choosing the best genetics for new Queens and support them to procreate naturally.
We promote agricultural diversity for bees to collect pollen from a diversity of flowers. Diversity of flowers boosts their immune system, similar to how diversity of nutrition is good for humans.
After harvest, honey is extracted from comb by hand with a wooden tampering tool in buckets, then strained to separate the propolis and wax. This is what raw honey is. We prepare it by hand with love rather than use a heat extraction process, which keeps the honey medicinal. The result is pure honey of the highest quality!
Interdependence of Humans and Bees
Humans need pollinators like bees and butterflies to procreate the flowers. Without them, we would not be able to grow food. With the environmental shifts happening on the planet, bees have been dying at concerning rates for many decades. The mass spraying of commercial pesticides has been one of the most pressing issues for our bees dying, so it's important for humans and our planet to support organic agriculture that do not use pesticides on their crops. Buying organic produce from the store and farmers market is a great way to vote with your dollar to save the bees. Being a guardian of beehives gives the bees a safe environment, and gives them a chance to build back their strength and population. Bees have thrived on their own for centuries, but at this time it's important for humans to step up to help them. We need each other. In this, there is beauty. This symbiotic relationship is helping to birth a new divine relationship between humans and bees.
We are also restoring an ancient relationship. Guardianship of bees is a practice that has been happening for a long time. There has been a symbiosis in this relationship even before the rise of commercial pesticide spraying in the 60's. The bees have to build fresh new comb frequently anyway. In nature, the bees leave their hive and go build a new one somewhere else. If we rotate out older comb, the bees have the choice to stay or leave. Most of the time they choose to stay. Essentially we are doing a service for each other. We give them a long lasting home and health care, and they gift us their medicine.
The Hive Mind
There is an infinite, intricate sacred message to learn from the bees about the hive mind. We are all one living in synchronicity together for the same purpose.
The bees choose to build comb in hexagon shapes. In nature, the hexagon is one of the many representations within the flower of life. It's the code of the infinite. Scales upon scales upon scales. There is always something inside of something, or something outside of something. You can find the same pattern in many fruits as well as snowflakes.
The collective sound of the hive is similar to being inside the womb, putting a seashell up to your ear, or listening to the rumble of the ocean. It's the spiraling sound of Om, quieting and calming the mind, bringing us back to natural peace.
Benefits of Top Bar Design
With this design, the bees can freely design comb the way they desire.
There are no plastic trays/frames placed in the top bar hive. In a Langstroth hive, the bees build a comb over plastic foundations. Many beekeepers believe that this foundation makes it easier for bees to build new comb. Bees have been building comb on their own for centuries, way before humans existed. They know how to build a comb better without any interferences. No trays means more propolis in the hive, which boosts immunity and strength of the hive. Propolis is the bulk of the hive's immune system, like probiotics in our gut is for humans. Having a plastic foundation right in the middle of a honeycomb is like humans putting a plastic tray in the middle of our gut.
Due to the style of a Langstroth hive, the bees have to reuse the plastic trays over and over again, which quickly leads to contamination of bugs. Beekeepers who use this design have reported zero cases of colony collapse disorder.
Honey bees communicate through sound, vibration, movement, and pheromones. Having no plastic trays improves the communication and unity in the hive.
Swarming vs. Splitting
Natural Swarm - When a hive is healthy, strong, and female bees are large in numbers, the bees prepare themselves to procreate. They design at least 7 new queen cells in preparation for the drones to go mate and add their sperm to the cells. Two thirds of the hive rise into the sky and fly in geometric patterns that you can see if you watch closely, like the flower of life and tetrahedron. To rest for a little, they choose a spot to cluster together, usually on a tree (but it can be in the most peculiar of places). At this time there's a chance to gather the bees into a hive before they fly off to find a new home. Sometimes we let them go be free. We find a balance.
Splitting a hive - When there are at least 7 queen cells formed in the hive, and the hive has bees overflowing outside of the entrance of the hive, that's how a bee guardian can tell a hive is ready to swarm. Two-thirds of the bees, along with the former queen, can be transitioned into a new hive.
In a natural swarm or a split hive, the original hive with the new queen cells will only keep one queen out of the seven. Bees are strict about this principle. It is rare to see more than one queen in a hive. At times there will be two because a former queen may be ready to pass away soon and the hive will allow her to stay until she dies. The hive will keep the queen with the best genes and kill the others.
What's Inside the Hive?
Propolis - "A substance bees make by mixing resin from tree buds and plants with wax, essential oils from plants, and other materials. Bees use propolis to strengthen every surface of the hive. It seals the hive so no undesirable elements or drafts can enter. It is stored throughout the hive and is used to keep the comb adhered to the bar. Bees also inhale the vapors from propolis as medicine, taking advantage of its antibiotic, antifungal, antioxidant, and antiviral properties."
Pollen - We cannot grow food without pollenation (in china they hand pollinate certain crops due to industrial devastation). Bee pollen is the only plant source that contains vitamin B12. Bee pollen is rich in minerals, benificial fatty acids, caotenoids and bioflavinoids. Our bee bread and honey. More protein by weight than beef. We cannot grow food without pollination (in china they hand pollinate certain crops due to industrial devastation).
Honey - Heated and treated commercial honey does not contain pollen. Pollen has to be in it to be considered honey. The enzymes and life in honey get killed through the heating process. Pressure filtering takes out the pollen.
Larva - "The middle stage of a pip, after the first three days as an egg and before it metamorphoses into a pupae."
Pip - "Baby bee before it hatches."
Bee Bread - "Food for baby bees, made from pollen collected in the field, mingled with saliva, and fermented."
Royal Jelly - "A substance that maiden and drone bees produce from their hypopharyngeal glands and feed to pips during their first few days of gestation. Queen pips, however, receive a steady of royal jelly throughout their gestation. An ascended queen continues to being fed a diet of royal jelly during her time as queen. Royal jelly provides some immunity against bacterial infections and thus helps protect the bees right from the start of their lives."
Drone - Male bee. Responsible for seeking out the best genetics for the hive.
Maiden - "Female bee who does all the chores the colony requires to stay in good health, including caring for the pips in the nursery and finding and bringing home nectar, pollen, and the ingredients of propolis. Maidens are called 'worker bees' in beekeeping. Maidens' reproductive systems are not functional as long as their hive has a healthy queen."
Queen - "The sole fertile female in a hive, responsible for laying eggs to provide the ongoing renewal of the hive's population."
Quotations are from Jacqueline Freeman's The Song of Increase: Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better Planet
Why have a beehive in your backyard?
The bees will pollinate all of your fruits and vegetables, which means more fruit and veggies. It will bring more biodiversity into your local area.
As long as you are not anaphylactic, bee stings boost the immune system in humans. The venom can heal various types of ailments and disease, two of the most researched being arthritis and lymes disease.