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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:52 pm    Post subject:

What is it with the need for black or white?

There are many shades of grey . . . . . . . . . . And in bee keeping, I suspect far more than in modern literature.

There are an awful lot of greys between hollowing out tree trunks in the woods and farming bees for honey.

A bit more give and take might be a good idea.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:19 pm    Post subject:

Yes, his replies on his methods were not as extreme as the programme made out.

I'm still not quite sure whether I believe him on the amount of honey he harvests though and I do hope, as he states, he leaves enough honey to get his colonies through the Winter.

I also sent a copy of the letter I sent to Homer, to Jon Cuthill at the BBC so he will get my views on honey farming and the man made rubbish beekeepers supplement their bees with to get them through Winter.

Honey farming needs to be controlled in some way for all beekeepers so the colonies across the spectrum get enough of their natural stores for Winter and in times of hardship.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:37 pm    Post subject:

So pleased you contacted him and were able to post his actual thoughts and words rather than the media interpreted version. It is good to find that we actually have someone from the BBKA upholding and promoting many of the principles of "natural beekeeping" and such a shame that the article suggested almost exactly the opposite!
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:22 am    Post subject:

Here is the reply I received from Mr Homer

Firstly, let me point out that I was speaking as an individual and not as a representative of the BBKA. These comments are also my own and do not reflect BBKA policy.

Secondly, you may be aware that the media are very good at being selective about what quotes they use and can often juxtapose quotes to give an entirely wrong impression. This is particularly true if they are working from a position of ignorance about the subject matter.

Thirdly, I made no claims whatsoever for the honey crop I achieve; I declined to provide that information when asked. The crop they quoted was something which the BBC computed using figures from the BBKA Honey Survey.

Fourthly, the issue of using smoke is always a contentious one with many people claiming to have the right method. I personally do not use smoke as I believe it creates an unnatural environment within the hive. However, as a precaution, developed over many years working as a bee inspector for the National Bee Unit, I always have smoke to hand. It is particularly useful to minimise the effect of alarm pheromones in the unlikely event of being stung.

Fifthly, the TV piece gave the impression that “natural” beekeepers don’t use chemicals whereas I do. That is entirely erroneous. I manage my bees without chemicals using biotechnical methods of varroa management. In my opinion varroa can only be effectively managed by removing things from the hive, not by introducing them.

Sixthly, I agree that there are no nutrients in sugar or fondant but as we always leave adequate stores on our colonies to see them through it is not an issue for us.

Seventh, I do not preach how to keep and manage bees – there are plenty of people around prepared to do that. What I do do is tell people how I keep my own bees and the reasons why. These have been developed over nearly 40 years with approaching 1000 colony years of experience in addition to having worked throughout the UK with the NBU.

Eighth, the comment about colonies eventually dying out if we do not gather honey was an example of partial quoting. I had made the point that if strong colonies are not given sufficient space, they are more prone to swarming. The same is true if colonies are not effectively managed. There is ample evidence that swarms have a very low chance of survival unless they are captured and managed and this would (and is), in our current environment, cause a
decline in colony numbers.

Lastly, I too consider myself a natural beekeeper. I work tirelessly and positively to ensure the optimum conditions for good bee health. If a few more beekeepers were to understand what is required to do this, beekeeping, despite the adverse environmental factors, would be in a much healthier state.[/u]
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:09 am    Post subject:

I have send a letter to Mr Homer outlining my disagreement with his bizarre statement and how I feel about conventional beekeeping methods adding to the demise of the honey bee.

If you would like to see the letter I sent let me know and I will e mail it to you.

He has actually replied and I will copy and paste his reply for you all to read.
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:39 pm    Post subject:

Seems like a strange statement to make.

Maybe he just got confused and put his mouth into motion before his brain was in gear.

As for taking honey, I don't think any harm is done provided the girls are left enough for winter.

Certainly I don't see any advantage other than financial, in taking honey and giving them sugar.

I understand there are large apiaries in France that do that as a sound business strategy.
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:28 am    Post subject:

Here are some more daft historical statements about bees:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:06 am    Post subject:

"If we cease to gather honey eventually we get to a stage where a lot of colonies would cease to function because they don't have anywhere to keep all of the honey".

I think that will go down as one of the all-time classic stupid remarks from a beekeeper.

How does he think they survived the last 30+ million years?

I didn't see the programme, but if that is a sample of the wisdom imparted, I may not bother - my blood pressure may go off the scale!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:21 pm    Post subject: Inside out (South)

Did anyone see this programme on BBC last night? If not it is available on i player.

The second part of the programme, "Is the nations sweet tooth in danger of killing our honeybees"? It addresses the issue of bee health, honey farming, and the detrimental effect it could be having on our bees. It also covers natural beekeeping to the degree that the bees are not even inspected at all throughout the year.

There is a part of the programme where Mr Ian Homer (BBKA) is interviewed and filmed with his bees. He has twelve hives and claims to have taken off 300lbs of honey in a season. I find this quite abhorrent to think he must have replaced a lot of that honey with sugar syrup. No wonder our bees are suffering from disease. He claims, and I quote:

"If we cease to gather honey eventually we get to a stage where a lot of colonies would cease to function because they don't have anywhere to keep all of the honey". I think this is an insult to the intelligence of our bees!

Am I missing something here? I have been keeping bees for nearly five years now and I have taken virtually no honey from them and they all seem to function very nicely and never have too much honey.

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