Sunday, 17 May 2009

Introducing YABeeP

Launched in March 2009 YABeeP is a local bee project centred on Yatton, North Somerset with members from across North Somerset and beyond.

Our stated aim is:  to provide peer support to individuals and families who want to encourage both wild and honey bees and maybe keep bees themselves. We advocate using bee-friendly natural beekeeping methods. Where our members keep honeybees they do so primarily for the benefit of the bees themselves, not in order to exploit them for forced honey production or personal profit1.

There are several ways this can be done which range from the very simple end of the scale - being more bee-aware in your garden, maybe planting bee friendly plans, not using poisons and pesticides, etc. - right through to housing and looking after bees yourself. Why not come along and meet us and see what you think?

If you wish to provide a home for bees then this can be done in your own garden by:
  1. Hosting a wild bee box – much like you would put up a bird box. At the simple end this can be a small solitary bee house right through to a larger home for honeybees - you put it up and leave it; you'll attract some bees and can enjoy their comings and goings.
  2. Act as host to a natural beekeeper's hive. Maybe you don't yet feel ready to get 'hands on' yourself but can provide a space for a honeybee hive on your property which someone else will look after for you.
  3. Own and manage your own hive – it's your hive, you are responsible for it and reap all the rewards.
Should you choose to go down the honeybee keeping route then YABeeP encourages the use of bee-friendly natural beekeeping, rather than conventional beekeeping practices. We are interested in putting the needs of the bee first. We don't treat them as a resource to farm, or see them as 'ours' in order to 'extract' a cash crop. Granted, as a Sustainable Beekeeper you may be able take some honey most years in return for providing them with a home and protection, but our philosophy is to only do so minimally and only if we are absolutely certain that they have abundant stores to spare. We see our role in beekeeping as a shepherd, observing and honouring and protecting our flock.

If you are particularly interested in honeybees you may be concerned about costs. F
or honeybees YABeeP promotes the use of bee-friendly hives such as the Warré and skep rather than the expensive, labour intensive and far less bee-friendly National hives.
This photo showing the inspection of a horizontal hive was taken in our early years. As a group we have since have since progressed to using far less intrusive methods. Horizontal top bar hives are no longer recommend by YABeeP.
A natural hive can be built for under £50 if you buy new timber from a sawmill. They can also be easily constructed for practically no cost using recycled timber - I made 3 Warré top bar hives this winter from recycled pallets. Natural hives can be built using basic carpentry tools – saw, tape measure, screwdriver, after all they are primarily empty boxes. YABeeP will provide you with the detailed plans and even practical construction sessions for those with no basic woodworking skills or lacking confidence to build one alone. Compare the costs of a top bar hive to conventional beehives which cost between £2-300 depending whether you buy new, second hand, ready made or for self-assembly.

YABeeP acts as a local, friendly group of like-minded folk who network with each other to learn all about bees and their challenges, expand their own knowledge about these wonderful creatures, ask questions and share new ideas and thoughts on helping bees.

Membership of 
YABeeP is free - there are currently no plans for subscription fees though everyone is required to complete a membership form which you can download here or here (81KB Adobe PDF file).

Geography Whilst the project is centred on Yatton, it can be as wide as folk want to make it, we currently have members from as wide an area as Bristol and the Mendip Hills, South Wales, Gloucester and Devon so if you are from the surrounding area and interested please feel free to get in touch.

Interested? We hope you are. If you would like to join us or simply find to out more please email and come along to our next meeting. If you would like to talk it through first please email your land line phone number and we will be in touch.

© Robin Morris - YABeeP
17 May 2009

1 Our aim was updated in January 2012 to reflect that we also act as a natural beekeeping group. Prior to this our published aim was"to use a sustainable approach to protect and increase the local natural bee population in order to see a marked increase in healthy honey, bumble and solitary bees in the area"