Learning From Bees

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Issue 254
May/June 2009
Elegant Simplicity

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Learning From Bees

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Cover: Painting by Sohan Qadri

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Günther Hauk Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, 2008, ISBN 9780958250142

Honeybee on crocus. Photograph: Gordon Maclean/osf.co.uk

Honeybee on crocus. Photograph: Gordon Maclean/osf.co.uk

WHILST THIS BOOK is primarily of interest to beekeepers, it offers the layperson some fascinating insights into the nature of the bee and the practice of holistic beekeeping. For some years now there has been an ever-deepening concern for the welfare of the honeybee. As colonies fall prey to disease and stress more rapidly than at any time in the past, so the honeybee population diminishes alarmingly.

This book proposes that the stresses bees are subjected to by modern beekeeping practices are a major contributing factor in the undermining of natural immune defences in bee colonies, and even more crucially, that these practices are in effect creating generations of bees who are becoming ever more denatured.

Günther Hauk examines every aspect of modern beekeeping practice, from the hive – which he believes should be a rounded, organic shape to reflect the hives bees would naturally build – and the artificial aspects of feeding and hive maintenance to the treatment of diseases. Admittedly I have no experience of beekeeping, but as I read this book, more and more of what Hauk writes seemed resonant with obvious common sense and truth.

His understanding that we need the honeybee far more than the honeybee needs us leads to the conclusion that it is now paramount to learn from the bees what it is they need to be healthy and how to work in harmony with them, before it is too late to change what is at present an exploitative and environmentally dangerous relationship. •

Lynn Batten is Office Manager at The Resurgence Trust.

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