News: Natural Beekeeping Alliance Conference 2012

The Natural Beekeeping Alliance Conference 2012 is hosted by Phil Chandler of BioBees and Heidi Herrmann of the Natural Beekeeping Trust. It will be held on 10-12 August 2012 in Sussex. All the course details can be found on either- or

Who goes to the conference and what does it offer? Well I went last year and will be going again! It was a real beekeeping success.

It simply offered something for all natural beekeepers: it was practical, and presentations were topical, relevant and open.

I would say the conference has a “lot” to offer for new beekeepers and those already with many years of experience. I now look forward to meeting you at the Natural Beekeeping Alliance Conference 2012. The future of Beekeeping!

Best wishes,


Beekeeping in Spring

The swallows have arrived and I am keeping a listening watch for the cuckoo.

It’s also a busy time for the bees and as natural beekeepers we need to ensure the beehives / nests we have provided for them are in a suitable configuration and beehive condition.

I have trimmed back the grass and undergrowth around our hives several times for example and I am now waiting for a warm sunny day to nadir several of the hives as the bee colonies grow.

It’s therefore essential to have your equipment prepared and ready to use as and when the opportunity arises.

For example, it’s critical that your topbars are waxed. Don’t use just plain wooden topbars as you risk the chance of the bees becoming stuck in the top box and not moving down inside the Warre hive.

Also, you should have a bait hive out as bees can swarm from now on. I suppose a spare Warre beehive for Swarms would be good as well. To be honest, it’s always good to have several Warre Beehives; it allows you to compare each bee colony activity, strength and health.

Please do use the Natural Beekeeping helpline: we are here to help the bees by helping you.

Best wishes,


BBC2 Natural World Queen of The Savannah

This programme was shown on BBC2 on 29th February. Quick, log onto the BBC iPlayer to watch.

What can I say, excellent photography, educational.

Sadly also misleading, commercial and blinkered when it comes to comments about UK Beekeeping-

Media placement of bright coloured plastic hives using preformed comb, “must” treat Bees for Varroa, the City is the only place to keep Bees!

Sorry BBC your creditability continues to fall, as does the general standard of television.

Maybe all natural beekeepers, bee guardians should complain to Watchdog?

Natural Beekeeping Courses

Course Title-

Introduction to Natural Beekeeping

Suitable for-

Beginners, or just wanting to find out more about natural beekeeping / being a bee guardian.


  • What is Natural Beekeeping
  • Life cycle of a honey bee colony- Spring, summer, over-wintering
  • Natural beehive choices and beekeeping equipment
  • Were to position your beehive, setting up your beehive
  • The different ways to source bees- Nucleus, bait hive or swarm
  • Putting the bees into your hive
  • Expanding your beehive as the honey bee colony grow during the spring and summer
  • Monitoring your bees behaviour at the hive entrance and on their landing board rather than internal inspection of the beehive
  • Bee dieses
  • Harvesting only the truly excess honey
  • Preparing your natural beehive for winter
  • Any questions

We are located inCornwall, St Just, approx 7 miles from Lands End. For this reason we say please call (Tel 01736 785777, ask for David) and let us know when you are visiting this beautiful part of the country and we will put a course on for you exclusively.

Courses run for a morning or afternoon, round the kitchen table, we will also visit one of our apiary’s (Weather permitting) but only to view the bees through their beehive inspection window. The Natural beekeeper methodology is of minimal interference.

Wanting to know more about natural beekeeping, living in South West Cornwall or on holiday, please do call.

Minimum course cost £30.00, or £15.00 per person. We like to keep numbers low for each course session to about six people max.

Please call to book your exclusive introduction to natural beekeeping Tel 01736 785777.

Best regards David

Modified Warre Beehives with Varroa Floor Option

We now have for sale Varroa floors for Warre Beehives. The methodology is the Varroa falls off the bees by their cleaning activities, then fall through the Varroa mesh and therefore cannot climb back up the hive and into the brood.

It will also allow you to carry out a Varroa count more easily by simply sliding the bottom tray out. (With solid floors I simply sweep the floor contents into a dustpan, the contents I then spread out on white card making inspection of the floor easier. The main advantage of the Varroa floor therefore is eliminating those Varroa that fall to the floor of the hive.

Our main Varroa tool in the Warre hive is however the higher temperature that the hive is maintained at, this being about 35 deg c. Varroa breeding activity above 33 deg c is reduced / limited.

If you like, this methodology is the natural beekeepers integrated pest management system. (For traditional beekeepers asking how we manage bee health- As a natural beekeeper I practice regular monitoring rather than inspection. If landing board activity, noise, behaviour or smell is not as expected then I would consider an internal inspection of the hive).

My current experience is that for the last two years I have neither sugar dusted nor chemically treated my Warre beehives for Varroa. Each hive has Varroa, the count has gone up and down, but each Warre beehive has expanded and wintered successfully.

Whilst my personnel experiences are not scientific, they are factual and I believe promising. I hope other natural beekeepers are finding such success and I welcome hearing from you.

To request your Varroa floors, please telephone or email (I will add to the shop very soon) they are available for £18.00 each plus £5.00 post and packaging.

Best wishes, David

Checking Stores in a Warre Beehive & Warre Beehive Spring Feeder

I find judging the bees remaining stores and making the decision to feed or not to feed always difficult. Ideally we don’t want to introduce anything into the hive or disturb the hive and its natural balance.

I judge stores by using one of my Warre beehives as a benchmark; this beehive has inspection windows in every box so I can see the remaining stores.

I gently heft this beehive and then work my way round our other hives so the weight judgment is fresh in mind and feel.

This year my benchmark hive has adequate stores remaining time, but the British Spring can be unpredictable so I will keep checking every couple of weeks until the Nectar flow truly starts.

From this procedure I judge I have one hive that is potentially short on stores; if you are going to feed its best to do so before the bees start to starve.

This is how I introduce an early spring feed to our bees with minimum disturbance-

I have chosen to top feed- As the temperature is up and down this is the only sure way for the bees to feed. It also greatly reduces the threat of robbing.

Feed- Is a 1 to 1 mixture of white granulated cane sugar with water by volume. I dissolve the sugar in warm water. I also add a few table spoons of honey, the very same honey from that hive. This helps the bees locate the feed more quickly; sugar has no smell.

Spring Feeder- The syrup is put into a top feeder bucket, I obtained mine from Thorne’s. Over ¾ filling this helps create a good vacuum in the bucket when it is turned upside down. For beginners fill the bucket with water and practice inverting it, turn it 180 deg and the flow will stop, hesitate and you have a growing puddle on the floor.

Fitting the feeder to the Warre Beehive- I take a spare Warre box, attaché a quilt cloth and cut a hole in the middle of this to the same size as the gauze in the feeder bucket. I also take the handles of the box so the mouse board on the roof will sit flush on the box and prevent robbing.

Installing your top feeder onto the Warre beehive- Chose as warm a day as possible. Do this procedure late afternoon; this reduces the potential for robbing. Remove the quilt box, but leave the quilt sheet in place to help keep heat in the hive. Place onto the new feed box. With a sharp knife make a corresponding hole in the beehive quilt sheet. Invert your feeder (Do over a plastic bag to avoid spillage on the ground) and place the feeder in the box, add straw or wood chipping from your quilt box and replace the roof, job done.

Any questions reference checking the stores in a Warre Beehive please do call.

PS- Don’t over feed, just enough to keep the colony alive till the Nectar flow. Overfeeding results in what should have been brood, being filled with fresh stores. This will prevent laying by the queen and limit colony expansion, the bees will swarm early requiring more space.

Best wishes, David

Bee Alert News

Dear BeeAlert subscriber, (Bee Alert is run by Phil Chandler)

News just in provides compelling evidence that Bayer’s neonicotinoid pesticides are a significant cause of bee deaths in Britain and elsewhere, supporting the case that we have been making for years.

The British Bee Keepers Association must now climb down from the fence and clearly state their opposition to the use of these deadly chemicals on agricultural land, or face even more derision and condemnation from beekeepers and other associations both in the UK and abroad.

A key study, published in a respected scientific journal, demonstrates that neonicotinoids are routinely found in lethal doses in samples of dead bees, in seed planter exhaust, in fields where seeds had been planted and in dandelion flowers growing nearby. This shows clear pathways by which bees are being poisoned and removes any last shred of an excuse for the BBKA to continue to toe the pesticide industry line that these substances are ‘safe if used correctly’.

If you keep bees within flying distance of agricultural land where maize, oilseed-rape (Canola) or other crops are grown using clothianidin-coated seed, YOUR BEES ARE IN DANGER. Likewise, all other pollinating insects – including endangered bumblebees – that live on or near that land will be poisoned, as will the birds and reptiles that feed on them. There is also growing evidence of possible long-term effects on human health.


Read the paper here –

PLEASE write to the BBKA and ask them to put their weight behind efforts to ban these deadly toxins from our countryside, while we still have some bees left.

Send an email to asking the BBKA to STOP supporting the pesticide industry and to work to have neonicotinoids banned in the UK. (More BBKA email addresses below)

If you are a BBKA member, pass this email around your local association – the more people who understand what is going on, the better. Make sure this issue is discussed and a resolution is passed to BBKA HQ.

If you are a gardener, look out for neonicotinoids in household sprays and compost: the common ones are Imidacloprid, Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam and Fipronil (also found in pet flea treatments). Return all such sprays to the shop and tell the manager why you will not buy them. Make sure your local gardening club / allotment association are aware of the dangers.

Gardeners may also be interested to know that Glyphosate (Roundup) has recently been shown to be much more toxic that Monsanto would like you to believe. In this report, Don Huber, Emeritus Professor at Purdue University and senior scientist on USDA’s National Plant Disease Recovery System, links glyphosate to reduced nutrient availability in plants, increasing plant diseases, the emergence of a new pathogen, animal illness and possible effects on human health.


“Our results demonstrate that bees are exposed to these compounds and several other agricultural pesticides in several ways throughout the foraging period. During spring, extremely high levels of clothianidin and thiamethoxam were found in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of treated maize seed. We also found neonicotinoids in the soil of each field we sampled, including unplanted fields. Plants visited by foraging bees (dandelions) growing near these fields were found to contain neonicotinoids as well. This indicates deposition of neonicotinoids on the flowers, uptake by the root system, or both. Dead bees collected near hive entrances during the spring sampling period were found to contain clothianidin as well, although whether exposure was oral (consuming pollen) or by contact (soil/planter dust) is unclear. We also detected the insecticide clothianidin in pollen collected by bees and stored in the hive.”

“These findings clarify some of the mechanisms by which honey bees may be exposed to agricultural pesticides throughout the growing season. These results have implications for a wide range of large-scale annual cropping systems that utilize neonicotinoid seed treatments.”


PRESIDENT – Martin Smith –
CHAIRMAN – Brian Ripley –
VICE CHAIRMAN – Dr David Aston –
TREASURER – Michael Sheasby –
BBKA News and Year Book Editor – Sharon Blake
Examinations Board Secretary – Val Francis
Public Affairs Director – Tim Lovett

Dr David Bancalari –
Doug Brown –
Chris Deaves –
Brian Dennis –
Dawn Girling –
John Hendrie –
Roger Patterson –
Julian Routh –
Michael Young –

Let’s make 2012 the year that British bee keepers take positive action to clean up our countryside – for the sake of the bees.

Best wishes
Phil Chandler

To all Natural Beekeeping Warre Beehive Beekeepers

For many of our Natural-Beekeeping Warre beekeepers this will be the end of your first or second season of beekeeping.

Experience will be gained, more questions raised: Practical procedures for wintering, judging winter stores, spring build up…

Please do let us know how you are getting on, shared experiences, and practical natural beekeeping questions, do feel free to email or telephone me.

Happy Christmas,


New Prices for Warre Beehives

The Natural Beekeeping site is dedicated to helping beekeepers adopt a natural beekeeping methodology. By selling quality Warre beehives and providing our unique and now well established Free telephone helpline with every new hive, we trust we are doing our bit to help improve bee health, through bee friendly hives and helping beekeepers with practical advice and tips when requested.

Keeping our hives affordable to allow more beekeepers to keep bees on natural comb, rather than frames remains an ongoing task, and I am pleased to say we have been able to reduce costs whilst maintaining quality.

Our renowned cabinet maker has kindly agreed to oversee my own hands on assembly of his / our or rather your Warre Beehive.

Simply put, my time is free so we have reduced some man hour costs.

Considering Warre beekeeping, do call with your questions, if we can help we will.

Very best, David

Christmas Beekeeping Gifts

I am being asked questions relating to Christmas Beekeeping gifts: what to give the natural beekeeper for Christmas.

Well other than a Warre beehive, or a Top Bar Horizontal beehive, not much!

Suggestions could include a Warre spring feeder, a bee escape, more top bars, natural beekeeping books… A nucleus of bees in the spring…

Do feel free to contact our helpline or email us if you’re struggling to find suitable gifts or book titles. Even if they are not of our supply we can generally give you the right contact details to help you with your Christmas gifts.

Happy beekeeping, David