Philosophy

There are many different approaches to keeping honeybees. My practice is to care for the bees so their quality of life is as high as possible.

There are several aspects to bee care: supplying water and plant forage instead of expecting the workers travel long distances; giving them a new queen and removing the old one if she’s failing; managing hive space as the seasons ebb and flow, and keeping them free of pests and predators so they can live a healthy life.

The ridding of pests is highly important to bees, whether the pests are ants, skunks, or mites. The mite which preys on honeybees, varroa destructor, can change the ecology of the hive so drastically that often a varroa infestation leads to the death of the hive.

I believe the practice of beekeeping is a benevolent kind of animal husbandry. Feral, or wild bees, here in SoCal, are survivor stock and do well taking care of themselves. If we want them to be self-sustaining then we should just leave them as they are in nature. Because the minute we put those bees into boxes, and ask them for pollination and honey, then we have a responsibility to take care of them.

There are some strains of bees that successfully fight off the mites, but in Southern California those are Africanized Honey Bees (AHB’s), and their temperament makes them impossible to keep safely in backyard situations. Therefore I buy bees of known genetics, which have been bred to be docile, and they must be treated against the mites. This is a trade-off that is well worth the trouble, as healthy, mite-free bees are a pleasure to tend to, don’t bother humans, and make vastly more honey. It requires some learning about the medicines and how to use them, but this practice allows us to continue with healthy, gentle bees and excellent, productive hives.

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