Thursday 20 June 2013

Why the YABeeP website is no longer updated

YABeeP members will all know that the group continues, as before, meeting the second Saturday of each month, this year we meet in Claverham Village hall - details of dates, time and venue can be found here.

However, YABeP has a wider following than just our membership with regular visitors from all over the world. This post is to update our distant followers as to the recent changes and why this website is no longer being updated.

Since its start in 2009, YABeeP has been run, more or less single handedly by Robin. Having taken early retirement he was able to devote time to it. However, last autumn Robin decided he needed to step back from running the group - partly as he felt he was becoming stale - new blood was needed, and partly to spend more time with his severely disabled wife who had become unwell. The running of YABeeP was consequently handed over to our new enthusiastic Chair, Sal Pearson - see this post for more information. A group of members met over the winter to decide how the group should go forward.

This website was developed by Robin as a resource that members could use and it has been quite successful doing so - basically it was his baby. However, it takes a lot of work and a certain set of skills  updating it. The major users of this site are worldwide rather than local members. Robin agreed to continue maintaining the site with the occasional update, though we decided that it would no longer be a priority for YABeeP, we would instead concentrate our activities on our local members - meetings, training, hive building, skep making, etc..

Unfortunately, in April 2013  Robin's wife, Sarah, sadly died. This has hit Robin very hard, having spent so much time over the past years devoted to her care. It was Sarah who encouraged Robin to start the group and she was his continuing source of support and encouragement. Robin has indicated that he needs some space to manage his grief and has consequently decided to take a sabbatical from YABeeP. We, of course wish him well.
Sarah Perry Morris 1959 - 2013

Consequently, we have decided to 'park' this website for the time being until either Robin chooses to return or someone with the necessary skills and motivation steps forward to take on the task. It will remain live as a continuing resource for members and our wider audience, but for the time being there will be no further posts or updates.

Sunday 24 March 2013

This email to YABeeP members is being posted on our website as it may be of interest to others who follow this blog:

1. Natural Beekeeping in Schools
Natural Beekeeping Trust
We have been contacted by our friends in the Natural Beekeeping Trust about a former student of one of their first beekeeping courses, Vanessa Clarke, who was a BT executive at the time. Vanessa went on to a Rudolf Steiner Waldorf Teacher Training course.

Now in her last months of teacher training Vanessa is proposing a project to further natural beekeeping which YABeeP would like to support.

Vanessa reports: " I am in my last months of study and for my final project, I have chosen to offer UK Steiner Waldorf schools practical ways of incorporating natural beekeeping methods into their curriculum.  There has been quite a lot of interest from Steiner Waldorf teachers - if I can make the integration as painless, efficient and economical as possible.

My vision is that Steiner Waldorf schools build and manage their own hive/s with the help of a local mentor.  If this is not possible, another suggestion is to have school children regularly visit local apiaries,  In order to determine the feasibility of such a project, I will be sending out two surveys - one to natural beekeepers and another to Steiner Waldorf teachers."
Depending on the results from the pilot, the hope is that the project will be offered to all schools - see attached.

YABeeP is asking members plus any other Natural Beekeepers whether you would be willing to help Vanessa getting the "evidence" she needs by completing the questionnaire (LINK HERE), and forwarding it to other natural beekeepers who are likely to be interested or might co-operate. This could be significant for future bees.

2. Brilliant Insect TV

Watch them again on BBC iPlayer
If you have not been watching the excellent series on Insects that the BBC has been running over the past couple of weeks spend a while to catch up on the BBC iPlayer.  2 must see programmes for those interested in bees are:

  • Insect Dissection: How Insects Work - available on iPlayer (sorry, BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK)
  • Planet Ant: Life inside the Colony - which is being repeated on BBC HD (Freeview channel 102) today at 19:00 hours or can be viewed on your pc. Ants and bees are very closely related.

Don't say we didn't tell you!

23 March 2013

Sunday 17 March 2013

Beginners Training Course 2013

Gareth John

Gareth John, a long-time friend of YABeeP, delivers training courses in Natural Beekeeping from his home in West Oxfordshire - details here. For the last couple of years Gareth has kindly agreed to run some of these for us here in North Somerset. 

The next course he will be running in Yatton is below.  (Note: this course is a one day version of the two day course run from his home.  It omits those parts of the material that relate to hive choice as between horizontal and Warré hives on the basis that YABeeP members use mainly Warré hives.)

Who is it for?
Primarily designed for those new to keeping honeybees wishing to use bee-centred methods and a holistic approach in Warré hives. You must be a YABeeP member to take part in this discounted offer.

Saturday 4th May  10:30 am to 4:30pm

To maximise the attention given to each attendee, numbers are limited where possible to 8 for each course.   Spaces will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis - see Booking below for how to secure your place. If there is too much demand then a second day may be arranged separately. 

The cost will be £35 per person for the day. Teas and coffees will be provided but you will need to bring your own lunch.

Course Outline

10.15 Arrival, coffee, biscuits and comfort calls. 

10.30 -11.30 The Honeybee Colony: An Organism Like No Other

11.30 – 12.30 The Pulse of The Bee: The dynamics of a honeybee colony and its interaction with its environment

12.30 – 1.30 Lunch Break

1.30 – 2.30 The Natural Beekeeping Year

2.30 – 3.30  Practical Demonstration of Warré Hives

3.30 – 4.30 Trusting the Bee

YABeeP members have been sent an email detailing how to book. This discounted opportunity is only available to YABeePers.

This is a great opportunity for us to receive some excellent training at a very reasonable cost from someone who I believe to be one of the best trainers in natural beekeeping in the country. If you want to take advantage of this book early as the spaces are limited.

Sal Pearson

Monday 14 January 2013

Telegraph article

Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph today published an article on Natural Beekeeping which you can read on-line here. The article was written by Jean Vernon who has been a member of YABeeP since 2009 when we first started. It features Heidi Herman, the Natural Beekeeping Trust and the Sun Hive, all of which YABeeP fully supports. Some of us were lucky enough to attend the conference Heidi arranged last year and meet her and visit the Trusts's wonderful apiary.
John & Gareth enjoy Heidi's bees
(yes, that is an occupied Sun Hive)

We expect that there will be several negative comments from some dyed-in-the-wool conventional beek's so I would encourage all natural beekeepers to leave a Comment in support on the Telegraph's webpage. To do this if you don't have a Telegraph account you need to first register by clicking on the 'Register with the Telegraph' link just under the text of the article - it's free.

Bees Flying - is it a problem?
The recent unseasonal warm weather over and since Christmas has meant our bees have often been out flying. This has been a concern to many who are aware that 'conventional' wisdom suggests it is worrying if the bees have broken winter cluster. This 'worry' however, ignores the fact that bees have been doing this for millions of years; it's not unnatural for some winters to have warm spells.

I have been advising our members not to worry and leave your colonies well alone; resist the 'conventional' pressure to feed - rest assured that the bees know what they are doing. Even a peep through the window could add stress to the bees at this time of year.
A Sun Hive with a
supered honey box

Whilst this is easy for me to say I recognise it can be hard to do, especially for those under pressure from others who are shovelling sugar in their hives by the Kilo. For a little reassurance see this post by Heidi on the Natural Beekeeping Trust's website. I love her approach that we "can only hope and trust that the bees, unlike us, know what they are doing ".

After all, are we such experts in bee behaviour? I'm certainly not. We must abandon our human instinct to worry and think that we should be interfering; our 'we know best' attitude. I agree with Heidi, we must learn to trust our bees!

Hopefully see you at our 9th February meeting.

Robin Morris

Friday 11 January 2013


I also belong to Jonathan Powell's Frome & Bruton area natural beekeeping forum and saw this excellent post there last night. It was so good I imediately asked Jonathan & Emma's permission to share it here whuch they kindly granted. Emma is also a member of YABeeP. Enjoy

Robin Morris
YABeeP Web Editor:

Bees and Tolstoy

Just reading 'Honey and Dust' by Piers Moore-Ede and was struck by this quote from Tolstoy (an avid beekeeper):

Tolstoy by Repin 1901
(picture Wikipedia)
"A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people. A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower, and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers. A bee-keeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey. Another bee-keeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely, says that the bee gathers pollen-dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race. A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bees existence. Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee. But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern. The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension. All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life."

Tolstoy in War and Peace (First Epilogue ch. 1)

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year.

Jonathan's response:


That is a great quote. While writing the course I have been thinking very hard about what is natural beekeeping? It seems very clear to me that it is when we are supportive of the bee bien#1 (here I use the
German word which covers the undividable bee organism which includes the three castes, comb, shelter, micro bacteria local flower environment etc). So natural beekeeping requires us to understand what that is first before we can be supportive.

Your quote reminds me that humans can see something and have so many different views of the same thing, and true insight on what the bien is probably requires years of not only study (because we are not
bees!) but also reflection on what our motives are and how that might colour our views.

So, if we say that bees are not greedy (they share their food equally and all die together when they run out, they feed the drones and heater bees, they fly to exhaustion in summer) then if we take honey we should remember that the bien is not greedy.

If we say the bien is without delusion (they will eat their own brood when there is no food, they supercede the queen when she starts to fail, they kick out drones when they are of no further use, they dump sick bees away from the hive) then perhaps we should not try reverse situations which are beyond hope and not be afraid of the bold decisions for the good of the bien.

Do we support the bee environment with our shopping choices? Do we use weed killers?

Is what I am doing best done by the bien - after all they have been doing this stuff for 20 million years ?

The bien has no hierarchy - so is bee KEEPER the correct approach?

There are so many aspects we could consider and apply that to what we do.

I think we can slip in and out of being a natural beekeeper depending on our understanding of the bien. When I take a flight, I'm not being a natural beekeeper as I'm not supportive of the environment - it's a
choice I have made. I personally think that following the bee bien is very good for humans - it gives us great insight. For others they may think that its just an insect that gives us honey. Going back to your quote - it depends on your view point.

Editor's comment:
Contact details of the Frome & Bruton natural beekeeping group can be found under "Other local natural beekeeping groups:" in the right hand column.

Dare I suggest that the second beekeeper in Tolstoy's quote describes a natural beekeeper?

#1Bien is a German word (pronounced bean) meaning the whole being of the colony - see this page from Gaia Bees for a fuller explanation.