Sunday, 8 February 2009

Bee welfare and sustainability

A hive is a box where one keeps bees. Simple enough you'd think. But, out there there are an array of different types of hives and for a novice like me, and given the costs of a new hive, it can be hard to decide which type to have. In the last few days this is further complicated, for me, by the notion that I should give more thoughts to the welfare of the bees with regards to sustainability. 

Until a few days ago I was weighing up the choice between a National or a Langstorth hive. They are, in fact, very similar and my concern was based purely on which is more practical in terms of handling. Then I came across the Top Bar bee hive and more specifically a web site dedicated to Top Bar beekeeping where I read about some of the issues of bee welfare and sustainability. Until now I had not given too much thoughts about the intensive nature of honey production in 'normal' bee hives. Bee hives as we know it was invented to encourage high yield in honey production. It is argued by some Top Bar beekeepers that traditional hives, by it's construction, is affecting the biology and the welfare of the bees. Top Bar beekeeping aims to allow the bees to build their comb in a fashion that is more natural to the bees, though this has implication on honey production. 

Honey, and general interest, aside the other main reason I want to keep bees is the fact that bee population, in the UK and elsewhere, is suffering a decline. Many, in the bee keeping community, believe this is due largely to human activities: use of pesticide in farming. As bees are crucial to our own survival this is more then an academic debate. I am still thinking about what hive I should start with, but now I am starting to think more about sustainability and bee welfare. If you are interested  to read more about Top Bar beekeeping you can go to this site -

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