What can beekeeping teach us?

Beekeeping is more than just keeping bees, and right now, with the world in a state of flux, I feel it is more important than ever. Not, I hasten to add, because we should all be installing hives, but an understanding of a bee colony allows us to connect with the interactions of nature so much more effectively than anything else. We see bees come and go to the hive. We watch them work flowers for nectar. We see them pack pollen in to their corbiculae: they are a tangible and familiar expression of the relationships between plants and insects.

Lockdown has given us the chance – obligation – to become more acquainted with our immediate surroundings, and hopefully has reminded us of what we have in our locality, and how much of our wellbeing is linked to outside spaces and fresh air.

Learning about bees is one of those lifeskills that, in the same way as knowing how to identify and help our garden birds and animals, or recognising a smattering of common wild flowers and trees, should be a basic part of our knowledge. The beauty of honey bees is that they give us a window in to a world that otherwise would remain wholly beyond our reach, and THAT is their value in my view, not just their ability to produce the precious and wholly-undervalued commodity that is honey.

Bees have been part of human existence for hundreds–thousands of years. That sweet-and-sour experience of honey and venom is deep set in our consciousness and I believe that learning to work with them sympathetically is so valuable for us, yet it has become an industrialised system in many ways; unbalanced and profit-oriented where it could and should be the chance to work closely with another organism for mutual benefit.

My philosophy and methods very much puts the bees’ needs at the centre of beekeeping, which encourages observation, thought, and a certain humility about the goings-on in the hive. This is a skill in itself – irrespective of whether or not you keep bees, as it requires us to step back and trust the ability of another species rather than constantly overriding and interfering.

If you are looking for a gift for someone, I have two courses available: Introduction to Sustainable Beekeeping, and Gardening for Bees and Wildlife. Forage provision is rarely/barely covered on traditional beekeeping courses, yet it is a fundamental factor. If simply helping bees and other pollinators is more your thing, my Gardening course will help you ensure your outdoor space is a haven for insects – which in turn will encourage other wildlife.

If you would love to keep bees but simply don’t have the space, I have a ‘virtual beekeeper’ Associate tier on my Patreon which will give you access to a real hive via posts and video footage in real time. If you are already a beekeeper, or want to start out in a sustainable fashion, I can provide individual guidance and tailored advice – also through my Patreon.

The pandemic has shown us the need for interaction despite restrictions and limitations, both between ourselves and ourselves and nature. Thankfully we have innovations and options as to how we can do so safely and constructively, whatever the infection levels are doing.

Please email me at waywardbeecourses@gmail.com if you would like more information, or see my Courses page for details.

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