Well now, the title to this is certainly a mouthful. I have had a few visitors ask the question about the hows and why’s of management I employ. Here is my reply, in print…
Working with bees from a conservation standpoint is to give the priority to the bees. This of course means that everything we do is to benefit the bees, not necessarily meet some personal objective.
However, there is more to it than that. It is letting the bees make their own decisions when and where possible, in accordance with local and state laws.
By educating oneself with bee biology and bee behavior, one can in fact ‘communicate’ with the bees, if only to know when they are having trouble or are in need of and extra hand to stay alive and healthy.
By learning the indications of observable behaviors and evidence left by bees of stress and health issues, we can let the bees tell us when they need our assistance instead of simply making the decisions of what we want t , if we want to treat them or otherwise control them.
Management steps and methods used in my beeyards is incremental. There is no black and white line drawn to say when or how often inspections will be done. The bees determine that. By careful and respectful observation from a distance, one can see signs of stress and problematic behavior. if there are no signs of obvious distress at the earliest indicators, there likely is no need for a ‘full’ comb by comb inspection and no need then to disturb the production and environmental stability of the hive.
A closer observation will show further indications of things that are going on inside the hive. Sounds that are being made, feces location, behavior and more will let us know if a further look inside the hive is warranted.
To work from the approach of a ‘natural’ conservationist, is to be ever vigilant, never hesitate to continue learning about bees biology and behaviors.
It’s letting the bees tell us what they need and when they need it. Not us telling the bees what we are going to do and doing so whenever we choose to.
It’s largely about respect for another living creature. Though it’s not popular among many groups of people, I and others like myself don’t place value limitations on living creatures. We don’t play the ‘this living creature is less/more valuable than this other one.”
All living creatures deserve respect and the right to live their own lives. If we intend to work together with these other creatures, it should be in a way that respects each of the parties involved and allowing them the space they need to make their own choices.
This is not a condemnation of others practices and approaches, merely an affirmation of our values that guide our approach to working with honey bees.