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
- bulletproof.com: Blog Entry "Apitherapy: The Many Benefits of Bee Products"
Studies show that bee products may help manage autoimmune diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s, HPV, Lyme Disease, multiple sclerosis and arthritis – bacteria in bee stomachs could even act as alternatives to antibiotics.
- modernfarmer.com: Article "A Possible Bee Replacement: Tiny Drones Covered In Sticky Goop"
A researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology created a drone that could function in a similar way to a bee.
- nature.com: Scientific article "Appetitive floral odours prevent aggression in honeybees"
The study shows that social interactions are necessary to reveal the recruiting function of the alarm pheromone and that specific floral odours have the surprising capacity to inhibit the pheromone.
Bee and beekeping videos
- tagesschau.de: Video "Stadtbienen sind produktiver"
According to a study, the honey yields in the city are higher than those in the countryside.
- ted.com: Video "The first 21 days of a bee's life"
A close-up view into the colony – technically perfect and with a striking clue how to approach the issue of bee health.
- youtube.com: Video "How worker bees guide the queen for mating" (Croatian)
See what happens in a hive when the young queen goes to mate.
- bbc.com: Article "Spread of bee disease 'largely manmade'"
Researchers are calling for stricter controls on importing honeybees such as mandatory health screenings and more checks on movements across borders.
- freethebees.ch: Article "The Darwin cure for apiculture?"
On natural selection and managed honey bee health.
- honeycolony.com: Article "Healing The Soil To Solve The Bee Problem"
The article addresses conventional farming practices as cause for declining biodiversity.
- lafamiliapicola.blogspot.ch: Article "Patological symptoms of bees"
Comprehensive article on bee diseases and parasites (Spanish)
- nature.com: Scientific article "Deformed wing virus can be transmitted during natural mating in honey bees and infect the queens"
Queen failure is reported as a cause for colony loss. During natural mating the queen can be infected by the deformed wing virus.
- sciencedaily.com: Article "Honeybee hive collapse mystery rooted in hive size"
The vulnerability of hives with too few bees as a factor of bee colony decline.
- springer.com: Scientific article "In vitro study of the antimicrobial activity of European propolis against Paenibacillus larvae"
In-vitro study of the antimicrobial activity of European propolis against Paenibacillus larvae, the organism that causes American foulbrood, a fatal honeybee larval disease.
- teca.fao.org: Article "Evaluation of the Distribution and Impacts of Parasites, Pathogens, and Pesticides on Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Populations in East Africa"
A nationwide survey encompassing 24 locations across Kenya assesses the presence of parasites (Varroa mites and Nosema microsporidia) and viruses, identifies and quantifies pesticide contaminants in hives, and assays for levels of hygienic behaviour
- vita-europe.com: Infographic "Asian Hornets"
Find out more about Asian hornets (Vespa velutina).
- springer.com: Scientific article "Distance between honey bee Apis mellifera colonies regulates populations of Varroa destructor at a landscape scale"
Findings suggest that Varroa populations thrive in near-neighbour bee colonies
Honey and Honey Quality
- teca.fao.org: Annex "Revised codex standard for honey"
Applies to all honeys produced by honey bees and covers all styles of honey presentations which are processed and ultimately intended for direct consumption.
- teca.fao.org: Publication "The African Honey Magazine"
Browse the online publication to learn about current events in Africa
Native and wild bees
- dailymail.co.uk: Article "'Dancing' hairs lead bumblebees to pollen by sensing electric signals given out by flowers"
Scientists have discovered that static electricity causes the hairs of pollinators to move and that it helps bees find sources of pollen.
- sustainablepulse.com: Article "Wild Bee Decline Threatens US Crop Production – New Mapping Study"
The first-ever study to map U.S. wild bees suggests they are disappearing in the country’s most important farmlands.
- teca.fao.org: Article "Composition of stingless bee honey: setting quality standards"
A honey quality control program directed to both stingless beekeepers and stingless bee honey hunters to promote harmonization of analytical methods.
Practical advice for organic beekeepers
- fao.org: Article "How to make added value products with dead bees"
Article explaining how to use dead bees for apitherapeutic effect.
- centerforfoodsafety.org: Article "5 Simple Steps to Help Bees and Other Pollinators"
Suggests maintaining the health and vitality of pollinators by taking steps to provide a healthier environment for bees by creating a more sustainable and organic food future.
- europeanlandowners.org: Interview "Wild flowering landscapes & bee-friendly farm machinery"
Presenting an insect-friendly mowing technique that protects pollinators.
- authentic-routes.com: Website "ApiRoutes"
Offering taylor-made travel to beekeepers in different countries to destinations around the globe.
- veterans-and-bees.com: Website "Rehabilitation program Help On Bee Wings"
Program "Help on bee wings" as a chance for wounded and injured war (anti-terroristic operation) veterans to gain confidence and hope in life and work.
Bee and beekeeping books
- princeton.edu: Website "Princeton University Press"
Find books on the topic of bees
Native and wild bees
- youtube.com: Fourth world symposium 2016 on organic beekeeping
Impact of pesticides
- ecowatch.com: Article "Court Fails to Protect Bees From Toxic Pesticides"
A lawsuit seeking to protect honeybees and the broader environment from unregulated harms caused by certain insecticides was ruled against.
- sciencedaily.com: Article "Two neonicotinoid insecticides may have inadvertent contraceptive effects on male honey bees"
Focus on drone sperm quality affected by neonics. The study strengthens calls for more thorough environmental risk assessments of these insecticides as well as other crop protection products in order to protect bees and other beneficial organisms.
- springer.com: Scientific article "Effects of synthetic acaricides on honey bee grooming behavior against the parasitic Varroa destructor mite"
Effects of synthetic acaricides on honey bee grooming behaviour
- tfsp.info: Study "Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems (WIA)"
Synthetic study of 1'121 published peer-reviewed studies on neonics, peer reviewed, and published as open access so that it can be thoroughly examined by others.
- theorganicview.com: Interview and video "What Is The True Reality Facing Bees?"
Former USDA scientist, Dr. Jonathan Lundgren talks about what the reality is for honeybees regarding the impact of neonicotinoids.
- africanbeekeeping.org: Website "African Beekeeping Resource Centre (ABRC)"
The African Beekeeping Resource Centre (ABRC) is a non-profit South based NGO registered in Kenya working on beekeeping development across Africa. Subscription keeps you up to date with all the news from the African Beekeeping Resource Centre.
- apinews.com: "Apinews - La Apiculture del mundo en un solo lugar"
Find latest news, publications, courses and information on bee health issues covering all countries. Also available in Spanish and Portuguese.
- beesfordevelopment.org: Event calendar of "Bees for Development"
Find current bee events (mostly UK related)
- beetime.eu: "Beekeeping news in the EU"
Subscribe to the newsletter and you will receive weekly updates of interesting beekeeping news on per email.
- pollinis.org: Website "Pollinis"
The French website Pollinis offers a wide range of bee-friendly approaches, including political action.
- vita-europe.com: "Vita - We care for your bees"
The website contributes regularly to different bee health issues