Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:
Don’t buy into conventional beekeeping systems that are costly and often fail. Instead be a revolutionary beekeeper who knows the best old and new ways to care for bees.
- Where to find strong naturally-raised bees.
- Differences between wild bees and “packaged” bees.
- How swarming protects queen fertility & improves hive health.
- Replacing queens is unnecessary 99% of time. Let the colony do it!
- How Nature sorts weak bees from strong bees.
- Why you shouldn’t feed bees sugar.
- Prepping so you’re ready to catch a swarm in spring.
- Protect your bees & educate your neighbors.
About The Speaker:
Jacqueline Freeman is a natural bee educator with revolutionary ideas about how to raise healthy bees with minimal interference. She is a “bee whisperer” who has spent a tremendous amount of time up close with bees, discerning what makes bees healthier and happier.
For the past 15 years, Jacqueline and her husband have owned a biodynamic farm in southwest Washington. Jacqueline and the bees are so comfortable together that she usually works with them without protective gear.
She is the author of “Song of Increase: Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better World” – a book so popular that it’s now being translated into other languages.
Susan is also the bee blogger for Mother Earth News.
QUESTION: What are you doing to support the local bee population in your area?
I started with a couple of hives about 6 years and did well for the first couple of years. Then the hive turned mean and started attacking me even if I was within 10 or 20 yards of the hive, and would follow me back to my house, several hundred yards away. I don’t react well to multiple bee stings at once, so I’ve avoided them completely. An expert beekeeper came out a couple of years ago and he was stung about 30 times. Everyone says to requeen, but I’m afraid to go out there. I feel so bad about the situation because I was originally so enthusiastic and I still believe in the necessity of beekeeping.
Kaye, you don’t say where you are located. If you are in the Southwest, your hive could now be Africanized. You original queen would have left in a swarm and the new queen could have mated with a “killer bee” drone. If this is the case, requeening is an option and is one of the few times I would “pinch” a queen that is talked about in this presentation.
I just wish there was a way to find out your location and if you have really been Africanized.
The best protocol for successfully requeening an Africanized honey bee colony is more complicated than the protocol for requeening a regular European honey bee colony. Florida is another state with lots of Africanized honey bees. Contact the University of Florida in Gainesville — they have developed recommendations for best results in requeening an Africanized honey bee colony.
I’m in north central Ohio, so not near the Africanized bee wave. I do not remember any different weather conditions the year that they turned. In fact, the first time they attacked me, I was completely taken aback and figured they were ‘in a mood.’ A dozen trips later with similar reactions, I decided it was a permanent change in the hives. (I have two hives side-by-side; perhaps only one is to blame.)
I’m going to guess you’re further south where the africanized bees have been cross-breeding with our european bees. If that’s the case, you may want to speak with some local beekeepers and see how they are handling that. I’m also aware that sometimes (if they’re not africanized) that a stressful situation nearby can be the cause of reactive bees. In Dominican Republic we visited a very sting-y hive that nobody wanted to be near. For a noon-africanized hive, that’s not normal. In checking out the area, I noticed two things: 1) the beekeeper had given this hive an open screened bottom board instead of a wood bottom, so it would be easier for the bees to keep the interior well-ventilated. (2) The hive was under a multi-trunked tree for shade, but in the center of the 3 trunks were very big multi-layered spider webs. The spiders easily caught many bee headed back to the hive. The caught bees were calling out with their distress sound, which — because the bottom was open — every bee in the hive could hear. They knew something dangerous was nearby and were on constant high alert. I suggested they check that tree daily and remove the spider webs, give them a few weeks to calm down and notice if they were still singing. The solution worked. See if you can find anything that is upsetting them, or if you have africanized bees in your area.
Did you have a time of drought by any chance in the period before the hive “turned mean.”
The reason I ask is because I live in Colorado and we had a very hard year of drought a few summers back. The next summer I caught a swarm from a “bee tree” and put it in a Warre hive and it was very aggressive. My thought was that the previous summer – when there was a drought and very tough conditions for bees – the ones that made it through were the robber bees – the ones who robbed out the more gentle and less aggressive bees. It was natural selection. But the bees were very difficult! They would chase me.
I finally gave them away to someone with a farm where they wouldn’t be a bother to people. I didn’t want to “requeen” because I thought there “feistiness” was natural. However I didn’t think they belonged around people.
Could also be scent related… Bees love them pheromones and various scents we may cary can cause some mixed signals for the bees. Mosquitoes love some people and hate others and it usually has to do with the scent they give off. I suspect a creature like a bee, that relies on scent might have a few similar quirks. I have very little knowledge of bees (granted I hope to change that), but I do know that scent sometimes plays some major roles in nature.
Paul, bees are attracted by some essential oils like lemongrass so you are on the right track. Of course when we are a bit agitated ourselves we release a bit of adrenaline and the bees are more likely to attack.
How wonderful! I totally agree that the honey is just a side benefit. Actually, eating low-carb, we have plenty, just for special occasions. Our prize is the wax, which we make into candles which (unlike the paraffin ones) don’t give off petroleum fumes!
Thank you for teaching us to love the little guys rather than fearing them!
And that’s sustainable, using old wax. The bees have a few ways to regenerate wax. One is that they dissemble and renew old comb as needed. Another is wax moths! Wax moths, which most everyone thinks are a pest that needs killing, are actually helpful to the hive because they chew up and remove the old wax so the bees can make new wax. Strong hives allow that to happen. And you are the third way, being the beekeeper who removes comb occasionally so the bees will start anew with clean comb.
Thank you! I am actively working on finding a mentor so we can put in a couple of hives. We are so excited! We want to do this right.
I love your enthusiasm and energy. Keep up the good work. I would like to provide some constructive criticism, however. I do not want to appear be mean or cruel and hope you can believe me I only want to help you to be better presenters. I love your message and agree with 60 to 70% of your message. Statements and facts you present, however, are many times false. You can think what you say 30 to 40% of your presentation but please say this is what you want to believe and not say it as if it was a widely proven fact. ie. sunshine makes the queen fertile again. (She became fertile when she mated with a drone)
For me, when I listen to anyone in a presentation, if they present something as a fact or a truth that is obviously false to me, the truthfulness of everything they say is then questionable. Everything they tried to teach me that I did not know is now considered false too and if not false at least dubious.
Talking about the bees babies was ambiguous. The life cycle is egg, larva, pupa and adult. You should show you are a ‘bee expert’ by using correct terminology. Saying packaged bees don’t know each other and implying that each bee in a package comes from a different hive was a shock to me that you could even expect a non-knowledgeable person to believe.
I started beekeeping in Kansas in 1971 so I would like to think I know a little about this subject. You talk about how important it is for the bees to exist and survive with us in nature. And you imply that this is healthy and normal. What you did not say is honey bees are unnatural in North America. Before the ‘white man” came here, they did not exist. Don’t get me wrong. I am glad they are here. But please don’t pass over inconvenient truths.
One thing you could add to your presentation is splitting a hive just before it swarms. I do this often. I know it is less labor for me than catching a swarm, more sure then a swarm box and I think less stressful on the bees because it takes a lot less energy for the bees and there is less mortality. I had to laugh at your explanation of why swarming bees fly in chaos – to hide the queen from a bird who only wants to eat the ‘big’ one. You should at least laugh when you said this and shown it was a joke. Someone might actually believe you.
Please keep up the good work in getting people interested. Your love for the bees is obviously very strong and it is shown in spades.
Hello John and thank you for taking the time to write. I’m not offended, though it’s sweet of you to be concerned for my feelings. Yes, we can talk! What i am promoting is that we need to take a harder look at common methods of managing hives and to start questioning even the most basic “facts” about bees.
Packaged bees are from different families of bees, shaken into funnels, one hive after another. They are not from one hive or from one queen. There are some interesting videos on YouTube showing the process large bee breeding companies use.
Yes, honeybees are foreigners who came from afar. I think I read that the first bees from Europe came across in the 1600s (I can’t figure out how they kept the bees on board a ship for such a long journey!)
Once bees were settled locally, for the next few centuries bees evolved to know their local areas and developed local knowledge that strengthened their ability to flourish where they were.
What I most object to is that nowadays is that every year, these packaged bees are shipped in from far off areas, which doesn’t allow the local bees to evolve in harmony with your area. To my way of beekeeping, once bees are established, it’s important that we let them interact with their environment and learn, for example, how to flourish in a very rainy environment (like where I live in western WA) or a frigid environment (like my friend who has bees in Alaska), or how to survive drought (like my friends in Georgia) or desert condistion (more beekeeper friends in Arizona). When we ship packaged bees raised in Georgia up to my area, they are hampered by not understanding our weather right off the bat. So if we allow the bees to go year after year in the same area, I do believe they will most likely learn to thrive and become stronger.
I can see that one of the things we differ on is that I try my best to use methods the bees use, that’s my guiding principle. So splitting isn’t in my playbook. Bees will naturally split if you allow them to swarm, and they do it on their timetable, not mine, so I’m inclined to go with that. I feel this is important because bees know exactly when they want to swarm and I’d rather stick to the bee’s calendar than my own.
I always question when something is done because it’s less labor for the beekeeper and I find myself questioning if less labor the beekeepers is really best for the bees. Even subtle things can throw them into mishap.
My book will probably tip you over the edge (I say this smiling) because I have an unusual relationship with bees. While some of my ideas may seem wild, the way I keep bees is to always put the needs of the bees first, and see how that goes. I can tell you care very much for your bees and wish you well.
Jacqueline comes from a long family line of deeply intuitive women. Much of what I’ve seen her “read” with her bees has later been confirmed by science. And her bees survive and thrive under her care and methods. I’ve had a delightful time learning from—and with—her!
Thank you John for pointing out that honey bees are not native pollinators. They were brought here from Europe. I’m not a bee keeper. It seems to me if it is not about the honey we should be doing things to promote native pollinators as well.
What are your thoughts or concerns about the Honey Flow bee hive?
You did not ask me and I have not used it. But I don’t like it. In my opinion, it makes a mess in the hive and is not natural. It is an invention to make it easier for the beekeeper. Making things easier for us is not always making things better for the bees. Besides, as a beekeeper, you want to open your hive occasionally and inspect so you can be proactive.
I would like to hear any feedback from anyone using a honey flow hive. How bad of a mess does it make and how well do the bees clean it up?
Joyce, Jacqueline and I are not fans of the flow hive. Personally, I believe bees are far to complex a creature to put at the other end of a honey faucet!
Here’s a very good article about reasons why I’m not in favor of the Flow Hive. https://www.milkwood.net/2015/02/26/going-flow-flow-hive-actually-good-idea/
Thank you for your thoughts on the Flow Hive. I will check out your article. I value your opinion. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much!! I want to start this. It was so exciting and am also happy about inviting neighbors to help them understand as well.
I’m glad you enjoyed the talk. Find some local folks if you can who want to be bee-centered beekeepers. Also there are some good groups on facebook that support this method. You can search “treatment-free beekeepers” and you’ll find more info and a good group of folks.
What a great video. I love those two. Thank you.
Thank you so much for this wonderful information on bees. We have 3 empty top bar hives but we have yet to find any swarms. I look forward to hearing the information on catching swarms in the spring.
spring is coming! Get on my newsletter list and wander around my website. I’ve got some videos and other info there that will get you started. The swarms will be looking for new homes once we make it through winter.
Jacqueline – No matter what browser I use, it keeps telling me your website spiritbee.com is not working. Wondering if it’s just getting a ton of traffic today (I’ve tried visiting the site multiple times) or if something else has happened?
Really interesting. I live in Yorkshire UK and am honoured by the presence of a strong hive in my attic space. They swarmed to there several years ago after their original hive was destroyed by neighbours. They swarm every year and I rush out to watch them. It had not occurred to me to build them some more hives in the garden but watching your presentation makes me think that perhaps I may.
Superseded bee queens are known (through long observation by thousands of keepers) to be killed by balling by workers, not put off in the attic in a “granny room”. Like much of this anthropomorphizing, attributing emotions to hive insects, repeatedly, is distressing. On the other hand, the ladies’ advocacy of allowing natural selection to maintain adapted local stock is thought-provoking. So too is the idea that brood breaks can reduce Varroa infestation . . . intriguing. I kept bees for about fourteen years myself, before the Varroa plague, though not in the volume these ladies maintain, and allowed swarming, captured swarms often, left my queens alone . . . and for the first few years worked my hives barechested, in shorts, using my pipe as a smoker. Then one day I dropped a frame, took about forty stings, and thereafter, if I did not wear protective gear I got stung. My body chemistry, I suspect, was changed. My personal reaction to so much speculation aside, the enthusiasm here was engaging, and speculation, after all, is where we get ideas for scientific inquiry.
Hello David, I like your comment that speculation is where we get ideas for scientific inquiry. The more the merrier. I knew I was going to start a bit of discussion going on these concepts. Unlike your experience, I have seen the old supersedured queens gently accepted and allowed to live out their days. It defies what is presumed common knowledge. Luckily, the more we talk about such things, the more we are finding that these “old stories” get passed on by those who haven’t seen it themselves and new stories of what we have seen start to pepper our conversations.
Re anthropomorphizing animals and insects, have you read the book “When Elephants Weep” yet? I do feel its presumptuous of us to imagine that any non-human being is incapable of emotions when oh-so-many of us have experiences otherwise. Oh it is a magnificent world, isn’t it?
I have always wondered why anthropomorphizing is considered a bad thing. To attribute human qualities to anything—bugs, stones, water, dogs—is evidence to me of a willingness to be in relationship, and in my book, life is ALL about relationship. Wisdom comes from and through relating to life and others, not through knowledge. It is forged at the fire of passion and deep connection. I think we all should be anthropomorphizing a whole lot more these days.
Anthropomorphizing is a one way street Susan and has nothing to do with an animal/creatures needs, let alone desire to be in a relationship with anything… It’s simply soft headed humans projecting human emotion/experiences onto something that is,was, and never will be a human. Experiences are knowledge Susan, and wisdom comes through complete knowledge. Every fool relates to others just as much if not more so than every wise person. And the fire of passion has never been fueled with wisdom.
Anthropomorphizing is a very, very, very bad thing any way an intelligent person looks at it. I too, found it a little off putting in the video, as well as a few other things, but I will try to stay on this topic for now. I grew up on a organic farm on Orcas Island in Washington State. Back in the 70’s we were practicing sustainable, green, eco living at a time most people thought we were nuts. Composting toilets, solar, wind, compost tea, wood stove heated water, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, cows, rabbits, 1 acre garden, 60 acres of heritage Apples, etc. I did 4H, FFA, sold at farmers markets, and helped a lot of people along the way (especially with their animals). I learned animal and land stewardship (green, humane, kind, fair, and organic) from the time I could walk and feed a chicken.
Any good steward will refrain from anthropomorphizing at all costs as it only causes bad things to happen. Every problem animal I have ever come across has been a victim of an anthropomorphizing soft hearted and soft headed human. When we anthropomorphize we stop doing what is right for the animal, and try to pacify the neediness in ourselves, and that is never what is best for the animal. A good steward always does the best they can for the animal, not the neediness they have inside. I have worked with problem animals as small as cats to as large as horses and everything in between, and every time I helped one recover, it always involved fixing the owner and anthropomorphizing always played a key role in the problem.
Educating yourself about your animal and their natural behavior, communication methods, idioms, quirks, likes, and dislikes is key. And never project your own human experiences upon them in any efforts to try to understand them. Problem dogs never happen in nature, there is order in a wolf pack, challenges happen from time to time, but order is ALWAYS maintained. Problem dogs in human families are always a result of an owner treating a dog in a way that creates the problem and does not maintain the order that dog instinctively needs and it is always a result of anthropomorphizing. The same goes for a problem goat, or cow, and especially a horse as the little girls that own them are so very good at anthropomorphizing. And I have never had an animal that I didn’t love and want the best life possible for, and that always meant doing what was right for the animal. And never putting a dog in a sweater or clothing is a very good thing, especially for the dog.
People leave food out to try to feed stray animals and that is pure anthropomorphizing. It ends up being cruel to many instead of nature being cruel to a few and exercising natural selection. The extra food causes females to deliver bigger litters and increase the local population far beyond sustainable and once the feeding stops (as it always does), it crashes the local eco system and can cause the entire local population to crash because it just became overstressed in a way that a few of the strong (that would have survived) no longer have enough to make it. Feel free to feed a homeless human, but never an animal.
People that truly care about animals and nature never anthropomorphize, they educate themselves and do what is right for the animal and nature. The world would be a much better place if people would stop anthropomorphizing the animals/creatures they are in close proximity to and followed the rule of mother nature.
And by all means Susan, isolate that fire of passion and deep connection to other humans, because honestly, if it’s not with another human, it is only you projecting it onto something that will never return it (and will most likely cause a flight of fight response and I suspect some animal cruelty laws might come into play), and that kinda goes against the grain of that wisdom you are searching for.
Anyhoo.. God Bless, Take care, best wishes, Mahalo, and please, no more anthropomorphizing.
Hi, Jacqueline. Lovely to hear your voice again and “meet” your friend, Susan. My questions are related to what John referred to about “checking the hive.” I’ve had my hive a couple of years and have never opened it! One, I don’t HAVE a suit and I’m getting stung a bit more and last time they flew straight at me! I’ll look for stressors as you suggest. (There are some ground yellow-jacket nests very close by and they had to fight off lots of those this summer.) And two, I wouldn’t really know what I was looking for! Do you ever open active hives, and, if so, what circumstances?
Also,I have visited beekeepers who have opened the hives and shown us the queen. I’m wondering what that sun exposure – often on a frequent basis – does to her fertility.
Thanks for a great talk. It would have helped if the recorder had some kind of wind baffle. One part of the talk was hard to hear.
Popping in here to say how healthy it is to have a respectful, courteous challenging of ideas, right? This is how to ferret out new “truths” and as you say, David, speculation is the source of future science.
I agree w/John in his above comments, I also have bees,started w/packages, but since start up have caught swarms, or taken hives from various buildings. & only believe in about 50% of video, but due like the enthusiasm of presentation encouraging others to keep bees. Unless you live way out from society, the swarms will have genetics from the modern bees (Russians, Italians,ect). I have to say, & hope it continues, that we haven’t lost high #s of hives, maybe 2% / year so far.
Irvin, from my reading, I have learned that swarm bees, even if they are from packages, can become feral and have their latent genetics revitalized quickly once they head out for the hills. I love working with swarms, and we encourage our bee club to seek out bees in this way.
Jacqueline and I dearly want people to feel that they can step into beekeeping without a Masters Degree in entomology! For beginners especially, a low-interference model is a way to ensure you don’t mess about in the hive and actually interfere with the good work of the bees. And as the years pass, I find I have less and less reason to dabble inside the hive. I love sitting and watching them, though. Can do that for hours!
I love bees. My former husband, when we were still a couple, started beekeeping when there was a swarm at our chimney. A local beekeeper came to catch the swarm and told him about the bees, and so he became interested. That was many years ago. I still remember the sound of swarms, I understand what Jacqueline and Susan tell about them: an incredible force of nature!
It seems to me swarming, as the natural behaviour of the bees, is considered fairly normal here in the Netherlands. But most towns have strict rules about where to keep bees and where not.
Myself I do not want to be a beekeeper, but I plant the right flowers for the bees, including the wild bee species (not honey bees).
Thank you for the presentation and contact/resource information!
A testimony about sweet bees suddenly attacking: there was a hive in the corner of my house for several years. I really enjoyed going out and watching them and never felt threatened. Then this summer they began to dive bomb me, not stinging but definitely upset and warning me away. When I looked I found several large spider webs on the eaves of the house and the window close to the hive entrance catching bees. I took a long stick and removed the spiders to a fence and tree about 15 feet away. The bees calmed down but half the spiders found their way back by the next morning! Farther distance removal was more successful. It seems spiders also have a homing device 🙂
Sadly I was planing some work on the house and had the hive removed for the safety of the workmen who were to be hammering and cutting on the nearby areas of the house. The hive had been there at least 4 years and was thriving. The cutout full of comb was about 4 1/2 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The removal folks, who used the bees to stock a hive with workers, estimated over 40,000 bees and “less than 2% mite load” (I have no idea what that means but he was happy, saying that is below what they hope to maintain in a managed hive) I got 8 1/2 lbs of honey and comb and a silent wall. I really miss the bees! And if I had known the construction job was not going to go forward as planed, would not have had the bees removed. When I asked if he had any intention on maintaining the genetics of the hive which had thrived all those years without “help” he shook his head and looked quizzical. I hope to learn about natural bee keeping and catch a swarm or two next spring.
Texas now has a agricultural tax evaluation for bee keeping on 5 to 20 acres which should help multiply the number of bee keepers and people aware of the health and value of bees.
Jean, you are right on track with your keep observations. We say, look and learn! You saw your bees were having “issues” and you kept your eyes open and found them—the spiders. That is good beekeeping in my book.
A couple of years ago, I opened up the “summer entrances” on my hives to give my bees more room to move in and out, and they immediately became cranky. I realized they felt safer with the small entrance to guard, so now I keep screen over my entrances all summer, with a 4-5 bee entrance space for them. It was almost eerie how quickly they settled down once the entrances were reduced.
Please discribe a bait box.
The presentation was exceptional. I proofread for an apiary science journal and yet I still learned new things from you. A presentation with real people & in this case hives, instead of voices with a PowerPoint style, is so much more credible. Best to pick a day without wind though, to avoid distortion. Thanks again.
Judy, a bait box is simply a container—usually wood, but you can make cheap and easy ones from two large peat pots screwed together—that we hang about 8-10 feet high, “bait” with some bee comb and the scent of lemon oil (which mimics a queen’s scent), and keep our fingers crossed that a swarm will find it. It is remarkably effective in many cases.
Mary, we had such fun doing this we decided to film a bunch of these on lots of different topics, so stay tuned!
Thank you,this was very inspiring!
I’m planting an orchard and have been wanting to have hives…I just now realize that I thaught “the bees would probably love it…” ,not “think of all the honey!!!”
You ladies really rock.
Oooh, blush! Thanks Al!
Wow,you gals were great, so enjoyed this video. Gonna check out your book. Glad you are in Wa. I’m north of you near Glacier Peak/ Lk. Wenatchee.
Thank you very much for such a different perspective than I have been exposed to; it is such a more powerful and humane way to relate to these intelligent creatures. Thanks again for a wonderful eye-opening presentation.
Tom and Sue G
We are just a few years into homesteading and are confident that with what we plant and the wildflower and berry fields in our area we are ready to start beekeeping. This was just the right timing to get excited and prepared for next spring. I have seen wild bees in my garden. They are very spunky, and in the first few years made it clear the flowers were theirs. They know me better now. Have anaphalactic reactors in my family and garden a lot, but have never been stung, possibly because I started out recognizing the need to be diplomatic from the getgo. And take a moment to get reacquainted when we first meet in the spring. Am impressed by the quality of the comments and responses, and that this late in the day there ARE responses. Thanks everybody. Truly understanding about bees must be one of the deeper ways to love and learn our planet.
I have been wanting to get a couple of hives.. seen one hive where you can tap off of the combs without dissrupting the hives..
I learned a lot about bees here. I just wish I had heard all of this a year ago. My uncle, a bee-keeper, died then from Alzheimer’s. I was always looking for something of interest to him to talk about, and this would have been perfect.
I wish I could handle bee hives as well.
Excellent. My husband and I have both kept bees in the past, but these ideas for ‘natural’ raising are different for us. Maybe we will do more with this in the future. It makes perfect sense to me that using bees raised in your own area, with your own plantings, etc, would be healthier and stronger, and not need the inputs of expensive medicines to bring them through winter as has been the case with conventional beekeeping methods in recent years.
This presentation made me extremely grateful to my local beeks. My training through a local organization emphasized the naturalness of swarming, of not messing with your bees unnecessarily and that honey is a side benefit and not a priority.
I think there is one more way to get bees that you didn’t discuss that is wonderful for many new beekeepers; nucs from local, experienced beekeepers. That’s how I began and I highly recommend it.
I live in a city (Tulsa, OK) and I assuming most of the swarms available to me came out of hives in folks’ backyards. I still love the idea of catching a few.
My own hives swarmed five times last year and I watched and caught every single one. I “felt” it coming each time. My beekeeper mentors warned me about anthropomorphizing my bees but they also were dumbfounded that I witnessed them all from start to finish because I knew it was getting ready to happen. It changed me. Entirely changed me. I was somewhat ambivalent about keeping bees before the swarms. The swarms converted me wholeheartedly. I love my bees so very much. Swarm swooning is a real thing!
Thanks for the presentation. Enjoyed it very much.
Thank YOU 🙂
I have to say it has been wonderful sharing my day with you all. It feels like a gathering of good folks, all on a good bee road. I am reminded again that bees, to me, are much like sourdough starter: the starter is grown from wild yeasts particular to your home and yard. If you move to another town, your starter will begin to change, taking on the yeasts from a new place. I find that bees are beings of place. A particular place. Your bees, in your hives, in your yard will be very different from your mentor’s bees, or bees you read about online. It is so important to get to know your bees and to come into a relationship that works best for you and your bees. And it is important to trust your instincts. Jenny, I, too, watched and gathered 10 swarms from my yard a couple years ago. I, too, knew down to the hour when they were going to swarm by watching them prepare for many days. It made me feel so good to know that I was “hearing” my bees! Oh, and that sound…. Life-transforming!
The presentation was very informative. I especially appreciated the thoughtful and insightful explanations for going against conventional “wisdom”. I would have liked to see some hands-on demonstration of some of the information referenced or actual handling of the bees and the hive. Still, Jacqueline and Susan did a wonderful job of imparting a critical point of view toward responsible stewardship of the bees that are so vital to the well-being of all life on earth.
I enjoyed your presentation… Though some of the information was a bit off. I’ve enjoyed gentle honey bees on my property for almost 20 years and they are truly amazing when we learn their cycle of life.
I want to start a hive and catch a swarm. But my property has its fair share of wasps. Could this affect getting bees or compete with the bees? Thanks
I have tried to keep bees, but the hives were raided three times by bears, in spite of an electric fence that was supposed to deter them. The last time, the ones remaining hung around for a couple of days, and then apparently took off in search of a safer place to live. At this point, I have decided to build a Slovenian bee house next summer and try to keep bees again the following year. I am hoping they can be better protected with only one side of the hive exposed.
I would like to know how you find swarms. Do they just show up, or are they from your own hives? I really don’t like the idea of bees being raised in Georgia, trucked a long distance, and then having to adjust to a significantly different climate. I would love to just find some bees looking for a new home, or have them find me.
Hi Jacqueline. I did a training in beekeeping one weekend a month ago. Then I joined the the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Beekeepers Association. A few days ago I got a swarm from a beekeeper friend with many hives. I am in rapture with the bees. I love just observing their messages in the air and their coming and going. Your presentation is so timely and important to all. Thank you muchly, Karen
I studied apiculture in college.
Thank you for clarifying a lot of the “off-feeling” points about conventional management systems I was taught.
Trusting nature makes so much more sense.
The issue we have in Lebanon (where I am originally from) is that the native bees are highly defensive; not at all like the exotic Italian bees many people import (which don’t require you to have full protective suits).
Any advice on dealing with such defensive bees? Large colonies don’t do well with suburbs and cities because they pose a high danger for people. Is it ok to import Italian bees or is that not best practice?
You got me all buzzing… I love your way of sharing, it instantly spoke to me. I have no idea about bees technically, I can just feel what you are saying connects to how I love to relate with what we call nature. It is awesome! I passed it on to a beekeeper friend in another part of Germany and think of dear gentleman who is in his nineties in Ireland. It seems I will call him up! Your gift of connecting in a centered and kind way… I really appreciate your gifts and skills and sharings.
PS: That gentleman is a beekeeper, too 🙂
I kept hearing talk about genetics and keeping the genetic line intact, and sister queens and I just kept cringing because I just kept thinking “inbreeding”… Any species that I have stewarded, I have always tried to find as much genetic diversity as I could for breeding stock and kept very meticulous records to ensure I wasn’t inbreeding my animals. But in this presentation, it was like inbred bees seemed desirable and that no thought was given to ensuring genetic diversity and preventing inbreeding. Everything I have ever read about genetics is that inbreeding is bad regardless of what it is. Is this different for bees? Do bee keepers consider genetic diversity or do anything to promote or retard it?
Paul, I’m thinking of the bees that were bought for my place last spring. They all came from one commercial apiary with bred queens. I would guess they are all very closely related genetically if not totally. In the wild hive that was in my house the queens that may have developed would have mated with drones from other hives naturally diversifying the genetics.
I have yet to read any books on bee keeping. Does anyone that may have read one of these books recall anything that covered proper husbandry regarding ensuring genetic diversity, natural selection, or bringing in bees from far away to add to the gene pool? Capturing a swam and not stealing all their honey and not feeding them sugar is exactly how I would want to do it. But I would also want to connect with others that are doing the same (at least a few hundred miles away), to swap bees and add diversity. But I have yet to hear of anyone doing this or recommending this as a best practice. Come to think of it, I have yet to hear any bee keepers address this topic in any way, pro or con.
Hey Ms. Jacqueline, great information! Thank you! My partner and I met you at a PDC in Montanna at Pauls place a little while back. I learned so much from you then too! We have our tiny homestead-ish thing going here in Georgia and we want to add bees too. My partner wants to get them in the Spring ASAP, but I disagree because we aren’t ready. He says they’ll find what they need if we don’t have it. I say that’s not a very responsible outlook. I’m so torn on what to say to him to get him to understand the true concerns of doing it too soon. My fear is that he’s going to do it anyways. Any suggestions? We got your book at the PDC too, maybe I can read it “with” him?! 🙂 Thank you again, Ms. Jacqueline.