This post is a continuation in a series on the “Central Commandments to Natural Beekeeping.” You can read all eight commandments in the post titled Sustainable Beekeeping, and you can read more about the first four commandments in Swarm Traps and Horizontal Hives and Let The Bees Eat Honey.
Number 5…“Only propagate your bees naturally, through swarming.”
Let the hive swarm naturally and then catch those swarms. When I first learned about swarm catching, I was completely captivated! It sounded too easy and then I caught my first monster swarm and it was SO EASY!!! Needless to say, I was hooked. Free and Feral bees are the best. They have just overwintered in the environment that you caught them in so the are already acclimated to the area, to the food sources, the climate, the pests. These bees are hardy…most likely they are mixed, mutt bees, but they are great bees! Also, instead of unnaturally “splitting” hives, you are getting out of the way and allowing the bees to naturally multiply, which is better for the bees. There is some science that states that breaking the brood cycle in the colony, by allowing natural swarming, actually has a major effect on varroa mite production. If this is true, then allowing hives to naturally swarm is a great reason to allow your bees to swarm if they want. All you have to do is catch them! Now, that being said, I have waved goodbye to several swarms that were most likely my own and it is always a little sad. But you have to wrap your mind around that you did not “lose” your bees; you either seeded the woods with good bees or sent good bees to your neighbors swarm trap. Either way, nothing is lost!
Number 6…“Allow bees to arrange their winter nests themselves.”
This means that you let the bees arrange the hive – and let the bees be bees! I always say, that bees know how to do bees better than we know how to do bees. By taking a hands off approach, if you are keeping bees naturally and following all of the other commandments of natural and sustainable bee keeping, you will set the colony up for success. Trust your bees to figure things out, to adapt, and to overcome! If you absolutely need to intervene, do so. But as much as is possible, let the bees order their hives the way they prefer and leave them alone. Give them room when they need it and shrink them down in the fall when they need it.
That’s it! Bee Kept by bees and enjoy every moment of it!!!