Episode 116 – Practice Sustainable Beekeeping


Today I show you how I am learning to Practice Sustainable Beekeeping. Last Tuesday was great evening for me as I got meet Michael Bush, The Practical Beekeeper from Nebraska who gave the Virginia Beekeepers a presentation on sustainable beekeeping. I’ve been following Michael’s advice for the past 6 months and…

it has been very worthwhile. Michael hosts a wonderful website for sustainable beekeeping and I link to it in today’s show notes at todolisthome.com .

Raising honey bees has been a wonderful experience and my knowledge of this animal has increased dramatically. We have found a renewed respect for nature and benefit from having tens of thousands of these wonderful animals pollinating our many gardens.

It’s unfortunate though that 80% of new beekeepers quit within the first two years.

  • The bees die. there are at least 28 different major bee ailments that can overcome and kill a colony of bees,
  • there are other pests such as varroa mites, tracheal mites, small hive beetle, wax moths, ants, bears, raccoons, skunks, mice, and birds
  • No honey harvested after a year or two
  • It’s harder than anticipated
  • It’s More expensive than anticipated
  • Time is required to get to know your bees
  • Need to learn and be prepared for eventualities. Finding answers is not clear cut
  • There’s no profit
  • Neighbors can get noisy
  • Insurance can sometimes be an issue

I got interested in raising bees a couple of years ago and that interest got me reading. From different websites I was led to Beekeeping For Dummies and as soon as I opened the book I knew I was on to something good.

However, the book and most of the other information I researched on raising honeybees failed to discuss sustainable beekeeping. Michael Bush is one of those rare voices who speaks from a true common sense understanding of the honey bee. Technology cannot fix the problems it has created and that is the mindset Mr. Bush takes when discussing honey bee management.

What I need to do to be a sustainable beekeeper

  1. I have to first Stop treating. I need to raise my own queens from local surviving bees.
  2. I have to ensure only Clean Wax is used. The bees need clean wax. Using foundation made from recycled, contaminated wax will not get that for me.
  3. I have to get the bees back to Natural Cell Size. Foundationless frames also allow for the construction of natural cell size.
  4. I must only feed Natural Food. The brood diseases all reproduce more at the pH of sugar than at the pH of honey. honey and Pollen are the real food of bees.

My neighbors take turns asking me why I raise honey bees and I like to reply that it’s the riskiest thing my wife will let me do. But actually I am fascinated by the life of a honey bee colony and how hard and constant the honey bees work to produce more bees and honey.


Song of the Day – Pearl Jam – Daughter – Live Video 


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