TherThe plight of the honeybee has made front page news in the last several years, as honeybees, which in the United States alone pollinate $14 billion in crops each year, have been dying in alarming numbers. The link below is to an essay I wrote in the summer of 2013 which outlines the problems that are now facing the honeybee, and the most up to date, peer-reviewed research on what scientists believe is happening. The paper also discusses the Biodynamic approach to bee keeping, and delves into Rudolf Steiner's 1923 lectures on bees, and in particular his comments regarding the practice of grafting queens, which, at the time, had only been in widespread practice in Europe for about a decade.
"Next time we’ll investigate more thoroughly the matter of breeding of bees, and we’ll see that what proves to be an extraordinarily favourable measure upon which something is based today may appear to be good, but that a century from now all breeding of bees would cease if only artificially produced bees were used. We want to be able to see how that which is so wonderfully favourable can change in such a way that it can, in time gradually destroy whatever was positive in this procedure." Rudolf Steiner - 1923
In addition to allowing bees to create their own queens, I also think it is essential that bees be kept in insulated hives in northern climates. This was common practice in the past, and the following quote from The ABC XYZ of Bee Culture illustrates this point: "It is sheer folly to attempt to winter bees outdoors north of 40 degrees latitude. While the colonies may come through after a fashion, the shock of the exposure will be so great that they will probably not be good for much to gather honey"(See Wintering, subheading Outdoor Wintering). Forty degrees latitude runs from northern California through to New Jersey. The video links below will teach you how to make inexpensive, permanently insulated and waterproof hives that will keep your bees warm in the winter and cool in the summer. These hives are strong and well built, and will last a lifetime. Construction time for a complete hive, with roof and bottom board, will probably take the better part of a weekend of work. Insulated hives will also give you more honey, as the bees will need to consume less of their winter stores to generate heat.
You can also now click on the button below to download a pdf version of the insulated hive plans. I would like to warmly thank Josh Jensen for all of the hard work that he put into making these pdf plans.