Sustainable and Api-centric Beekeeping

Beekeepers, Beekeeping Clubs, Local and National Policymakers, Teagasc

The work of bees in sustaining the planet is very important and many people are unaware of the important job these little creatures do. The problems of bee colony collapse disorder need to be addressed on a global scale. As Albert Einstein put it “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man”.

Api-centric beekeeping needs to be encouraged instead of intensive beekeeping. This means putting the bees at the centre of beekeeping practice. It may be referred to as ‘bee-friendly beekeeping’ in that the habits, natural behaviours and needs of the bee are the first consideration of the beekeeper, rather than for example, honey production.

The main features of api-centric beekeeping include:

• Providing a near-natural environment and allowing the bees to control their own colonies as they would in nature; interfering with them as little as possible.

• Using bee-friendly hives (size of home that evidence shows they would select in the wild), allowing them to build their own comb

• Letting them decide for themselves on the mix of workers to drones (male) bees and letting them swarm as and when they feel the need.

• Queen is not controlled in the same way as she would be in conventional beekeeping.

• Interest is in the protection and preservation of the bee as a wild creature rather than seeing it only as a producer of honey. Whilst honey may sometimes be harvested, this is done only having ensured they have sufficient stores for bees themselves.

• Challenging the concept of weeds in the public mindset.Councils around the world tend to reflect this mindset and treat many public areas hedgerows, roundabouts and verges with pesticides which harm insects.

• Encouraging biodiversity (the better the bees food source, the better the honey). Not just about planting wildflower meadows but about leaving wild areas such as hedgerows alone rather than treating many of the plants which grow on them as weeds.

• Farmers will get the pollination benefits for their crops by encouraging bees onto their land.,