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hugely generalised query

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New Bee

Joined: 20 Aug 2015
Posts: 1
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:15 pm    Post subject: hugely generalised query Reply with quote

I'm a member of a different beekeeping forum. I'm new to beekeeping and I intend to used moveable frames but I had read some of Warre's book and had suggested that a friend of mine might prefer this method of beekeeping. We live in the middle of nowhere in rural France so escaping swarms would not be a huge deal if it did happen but my real question is this...

How viable is it to have a completely hands off approach to beekeeping. Only opening the hive once a year to collect honey and leaving the bees to their own devices. I assume it is viable but as I have learnt on the other forum that if you do not follow the status quo then people will basically call you an idiot (though it wasnt that severe it was hardly supportive)

So how hands off can you be?
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Scout Bee

Joined: 30 May 2014
Posts: 311
Location: Newport, Gwent, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Greggorio and welcome to the forum. Your decision is completely personal. Feral bees survive without a beekeeper and have done so long before humans walked on the earth. Warre did not open his hives more than once or twice a year and had hundreds of them and was very successful. As you are very rural, there probably are not many beekeepers near you to worry about. You could have observation windows in some of your hives if you were interested to watching the inner workings more closely. We all have to find our own path in beekeeping and whilst listening to others, their advice is not dogma.
Good luck. Ingo
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the thing to remember about Abbe Warre is that he was an experienced beekeeper and so he had the knowledge to "read" his bees from watching their behaviour without the need to open them up.

I personally don't think the Warre is a novice beekeeper's hive. It's really not as simple as just lifting the top box off once a year in the hope that it is full of honey.
The questions sought here on this forum are testament to that. When something goes wrong, people expect experienced members of the forum to figure out what the problem is and how to solve it. Lack of information/history of the colony makes it very frustrating sometimes and akin to pinning the tail on the donkey
Bees swarming rather than moving downwards, brood in the top box with the honey, knowing when the honey is ripe enough to harvest....clearing bees from the box to be harvested, ensuring they have sufficient honey left to survive if you harvest a whole box without knowing the content of the other boxes left.... to say nothing of bees becoming queenless and possibly developing laying workers or becoming overly defensive and trying to deal with it, when the hive has never been inspected.

I think if you (your friend) are going to be leave alone then perhaps you should consider end of life harvest rather than yearly unless you are experienced enough to understand and deal with issues that may arise... ie keep them as a conservation hive and only harvest anything that is left after they die out.

My view is that if you are going to keep bees to benefit from them, then you have an obligation to understand and care for them. That's different to feral colonies, which live or die on their own merits without someone robbing their honey.

I'm very much in favour of low intervention but I got to the stage of being able to do so, by handling, inspecting and observing my bees on a regular basis over many years.

This is just my personal opinion based on my own experience.


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Conserving wild bees

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