Thursday, August 9, 2018

Darwinian Beekeeping

I'll keep this short to describe how I came upon the title of this post. It begins with seeing the film, Leave No Trace - it's about a veteran father and young daughter living on public park land.  The film contains two beekeeping scenes and the credits list an organization called the Preservation Beekeeping Council.  This led me to their pamphlet - 10 practices for better beekeeping inspired by Thomas D. Seeley. Follow the link for more details and I'll reference number 4 in the list ( from rough lumber) later in this post.
  1. Work with bees adapted to your locale
  2. Space your hives as widely as possible
  3. House your bees in small hives
  4. Roughen the inner walls of your hives or build from rough lumber
  5. Use hives whose walls provide good insulation
  6. Position hives high off the ground
  7. Let 10-20% of your comb be drone comb
  8. Minimize disturbance of nest structure
  9. Minimize relocations of hives
  10. Refrain from treating colonies for Varroa mites
bee, beekeeping, darwinian beekeeping, Thomas D. Seeley, washboarding,
How many authors have published books about honey bees living in the wild? - practically none.  Seeley the author of Honeybee Ecology, Honeybee Democracy and Following the Wild Bees speaks about a new idea, Darwinian Beekeeping -  letting bees live as they have evolved to live in trees without interference.   Darwinian Beekeeping turns on the idea that natural selection operates on the bees to maintain their resistance to disease. Regarding number 4 in the list ( from rough lumber), Seeley describes on page 18 of Honeybee Ecology, bees moving forward and backward as "planing."  In the wild, bees scrub the rough wood landing area of a tree trunk hive. The same bee behavior on an already smooth man-made hive makes no sense.   See my seesaw cartoon - on the left, the predominant beekeeping practice is to manipulate large hives made of thin and smooth milled wood.  On the right, Darwinian beekeeping letting bees be bees.
bee, beekeeping, darwinian beekeeping, Thomas D. Seeley, washboarding,

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