Tuesday 22 February 2011

About the Author

I have just realised that, although I was the main force behind starting YABeeP and write the great majority of the content on this site, there is nothing on here about me and my credentials for my work with YABeeP, so here goes..........

Who am I?
My name is Robin Morris, the good looking one (!!!!) in the picture....
Skype Emoticons

My interest in bees
I have had a life-long fascination with insects and bees in particular. In the last few years I have also become much more aware of environmental issues and the damage that we as humans are doing to our planet. This increased environmental awareness further triggered my interest in bees and the thought of keeping bees myself.

Having a reasonable sized garden, approaching early retirement and having a supportive wife who has a similar curiosity about beekeeping we decided to do something about it in the summer of 2008 by doing some research. I like to understand a subject before committing so, knowing no beekeepers, books were loaned from the library and I did much surfing of the internet.

Through this research I learned about the complexities, huge time commitment and considerable expense of modern day intensive beekeeping. Being quite practical I started looking into ways to save some of these costs by building my own hive when I happened upon websites explaining natural beekeeping. I read into this more and was hooked! This cheap and simplistic approach where the needs of the bees is seen as more important than exploiting them for a cash-crop all made so much sense – it ticked all my environmental boxes. I determined to make myself a couple of top bar hives and get started.

My Beekeeping Experience
By August two hives were ready and, with some help from a friend I had made on the Natural Beekeeping Network (aka Biobees Forum), two swarms were installed – I was a beekeeper.

As there were no natural beekeeping groups around I joined my local Beekeeping Association, though I have to say that having decided to be a natural beekeeper this was far from easy. My local branch just didn't want to know so I went to the next nearest where, although I was genuinely welcomed by most of the membership, I was vilified for my decision by its self appointed queen bee and honey farmer leader. I stood my ground and started to learn from them. Some of what I learned about bees was good, though everything I learned about their modern day intensive management methods only served to confirm to me that I had made the right choice with natural beekeeping.

So why start a Bee Group?
In 2009 I was forced to leave this Association when, on principle, I refused to rejoin the BBKA following their decision to continue endorsing the pesticide industry. I explained that I was happy to pay the full fee to my local association on condition that it all stayed with them, but they were not interested in creating a new membership category just for 'rebels' like me so I had no choice than to leave.

Meanwhile, because I had been active on the Natural Beekeeping Network soaking up all the information I could I was invited to become a Moderator on their internet forum. My involvement in the forum convinced me that there should be enough demand to start a local group so what had I got to loose? I hadn't needed beekeeping 'expertise' to start as a beekeeper myself as I'd relied on the forum for support. I  therefore thought that we wouldn't need it for a group; again we could get all the global support we needed from this wonderful online community. What was needed was someone local with a passion for change which I was more than happy to supply.

Consequently I got some posters put up on my Parish Council notice boards and spread the word on the forum and in March 2009 YABeeP was born. From this limited advertising  plus word-of-mouth publicity we had 25 people turn up to our fist meeting and were off and flying!
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So as you can see I'm no bee expert with a long history of hives or beekeeping qualifications. I don't need to be to run a self-help peer group. Indeed I believe that the beekeeping exams that modern day beekeepers take mostly reflect their intensive bee-farming practices which we sustainable beekeepers totally reject. I want to keep bees not exploit them.

What I do have is a good knowledge of Sustainable Beekeeping practices and Top Bar Hives. Not only have I learned through the forums and my own four hives (two Warré and two horizontal hives) but through the experiences of the 30 or so hives that our members now run and report back on at meetings. Add to this a growing knowledge of bumble and solitary bees through our project work which surpasses what most Beekeeping Associations know as they don't seem interested in bees that don't produce a cash crop.

In addition our group now boasts very experience beekeepers with a wealth of knowledge who have themselves turned away from the modern day intensive beekeeping they were taught as they believe this 'one size fits all' approach has become unsustainable.

What I bring is a passion for spreading the word about Natural Beekeeping and I make no apologies for that.

I also take great pride that YABeeP also supports the bumbles and solitary bees.

Robin Skype Emoticons
Enjoying our bees