Beekeeper FAQ

Q.What is the difference between standard beekeeping, natural beekeeping and sanctuary beekeeping?

a) Standard beekeeping accepts all the “progressive”, modern inventions for beekeeping practices and aims at maximizing ease of handling and financial revenues. Mechanization of many of the bees’ life processes (foundations, queen breeding, swarm prevention, sugar/corn syrup feeding, etc.) are welcomed without taking the natural instinct into consideration.
b) Natural beekeeping attempts to stay close to the natural instincts and inherent wisdom of the colony.
c) Sanctuary beekeeping, in addition to natural beekeeping practices, attempts to strengthen the run-down immune system with medicinal teas and growing bee forage with medicinal qualities in mind. And be as far away as possible from Monsanto and -cides.

Q. Do you use plastic foundations?

A. This is the worst invention and the bees don’t like them! The comb is where they raise their brood, it’s their womb. Basically one can say that foundation is not good for the bees. They draw their strength from the comb as we draw strength from our bones. Foundation is re-cycled, de-natured wax! We wouldn’t want re-cycled bones, would we?

Q. Can you recommend resources for Top Bar Hives?


Q. Can you recommend hive paints?

A. Different colors: AFM SafeCoat / Durostain

      Raw Organic Linseed Oil: best at ALLBÄCK ( Canada )                                                       

Tung Oil: 100% pure Tungoil

Q. What do you do about a)varroa mites, b)nosema, c) small hive beetle, d)wax moths?

a) Against varroa mites we have good results using a screen board, medicinal teas and essential oils. We have a number of colonies that get no treatment at all. When a colony has high numbers of mites in the fall (usually this does not happen in the first year, but in subsequent years of life), we use formic acid (MiteAway II is the brand) and oxalic acid treatments sparingly. These acids are normally present in the colony, but not in a high concentration, and are part of the bees’ life. Both treatments are based on a rigorous, 10-year study in Germany which showed that there is absolutely no accumulation in wax or wood. All other chemicals accumulate in the wax and let the mites become resistant to the treatment. The use of Thymol, although very effective, for treatment does not have enough research for us to recommend. Our ultimate goal is to strengthen the bees to the extent that they can take care of the mites themselves.
b) Against nosema we work with the teas and biodynamic silica spray.
c) We saw a few dead ones last year for the first time, none this year. Strong colonies will take care of them.
d) Wax moths are not a problem in healthy hives. Their job is to clean up what is not occupied. Let them do it.

Q. What do you do about a) bacterial disease(foulbrood) b)chalk-brood, stone-brood?

a) Natural queen raising and comb building, no sugar or corn syrup feeding. I never had a case of foulbrood in 37 years.
b) same

Q. Have you ever had Colony Collapse Disorder?

A. No, we never had it so far. Of course, all we do goes into strengthening the honeybees’ immune system.

Q. What do you do against pesticide exposure?

A. Best thing is to be pre-emptive (a mode of action not to be recommended in other fields of endeavor!). A few years back we threatened the health department with a law-suit if they sprayed our garden against West-Nile Virus. They stayed 1 mile away from our location. But if you know that there will be spraying and can’t avoid it, close your hive tight and give shade. The bees will suffer, but at least not die.

Q. What is Biodynamic Beekeeping?

A. A deep, spiritual understanding of the animal – here the honeybee – and respecting its intrinsic needs for health and vitality guides all of our beekeeping practices. The “bottom line” is not one of our goals or considerations.

Q. What does ‘Biodynamically invigorated’ landscape mean?

A.With biodynamic preparations we enliven the soil, the plants photosynthesis and the compost process. On the basis of sound organic practices, the biodynamic treatments raise the level of health and vitality of plant and animals, the resulting in superb nutritional quality of food and forage for the bees.

Q. What are the best bee forage plants for my garden/yard?

A. Please click here to view our Bee ForagePlant List.

Q. Can you recommend books?

A. Please click here to view our Beekeeping Reading List 2013.

Q. Will you share your recipe for Healing Tea for honeybees?

A. Of course! Please click here to view our Bee Tea Recipe.