IFOAM Apitculture Forum

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What is organic beekeeping?

The principles of organic farming and organic husbandry likewise apply for organic apiculture and the processing of beekeeping products. Therefore, the specific requirements of the species must be taken into account for aspects like keeping, feeding and breeding of honey bees. In order to guarantee a natural and sustainable apiculture, the prevention of diseases, the use of natural materials and additives as well as closing the farm cycles are a top priority. The holistic farming approach as one of the principles of organic farming suggests that also the bees are kept organically. On many farms, however, not the farmers is keeping the bees, rather a relative, an acquaintance or a tenant. Thus, the beekeeping has always been managed separately from the farm, either organically or conventionally, against the principle of organic farming.

The following basic requirements result from the principles of organic agriculture:

  • Keeping of resilient breeds that are adapted to their location
  • Breeding and propagation through the swarming process and with foundationless frames
  • Selection of colonies according to vitality
  • Overwintering with extensive honey and pollen supplies
  • Supplementary feeding with the colony's own honey and feed in organic quality
  • Applying bee-friendly husbandry practises
  • Optimisation of preventative measures for disease and pest control