Biodynamic beekeeping is a term used to describe natural methods of looking after bees and providing them with a suitable environment in which they can develop colonies without external intervention. Those who practice biodynamic beekeeping consider themselves stewards rather than keepers or havers of bees.
What Are the Elements of Biodynamic Beekeeping?
Biodynamic bee stewards use only natural materials for beehives such as clay, straw, or wood, and the bees are allowed to build their own comb inside rather than foundation being provided by the keeper.
The aim of biodynamic beekeeping is to ensure the environment is as natural as possible for the bees, which means allowing the queen to move freely within the hive. Queen excluders are not used and clipping of the queen’s wings is ‘prohibited’.
The biodynamic bee steward will acknowledge and accept that swarming is a natural occurrence within the honeybee species and will not take steps to prevent this from happening. Furthermore, the bee steward will not be in the practice of regularly replacing the queen. The queen will be allowed to freely mate and artificial insemination is not used.
Another important part of biodynamic beekeeping is that pesticides are not used. To control mites within the hive, natural substances such as oxalic and formic acid can be used. No chemicals are used for this purpose.
What is Biodynamic Honey?
Now that you know a bit more about biodynamic beekeeping, you can probably take a guess at what biodynamic honey is.
Biodynamic honey is harvested from hives that have been allowed to develop naturally with little or no intervention on the part of the beekeeper. Pesticides are not used and the hive itself will be made from natural materials, with bees being allowed to develop their own comb.
What is Organic Beekeeping?
Organic beekeeping is similar to biodynamic beekeeping in that it advocates for natural environments for the bees. From their homes to the way in which they make honey, everything should be as natural as possible. One of the consequences of this means that beekeepers will only resort to feeding their bees in the event that they might otherwise starve.
In their natural habitat, bees will eat pollen, nectar, and the honey they have made. They do not have access to sugar syrups, pollen patties, and other artificial foods so often provided by well-meaning beekeepers. One of the golden rules for organic beekeeping is that the bees should be left to feed themselves.
Of course, this means making sure that the bees have sufficient amounts of honey within the hive to consume over the course of the winter months when they are largely confined to the hive and flowers are scarce. In the event that starvation might occur, the organic beekeeper will provide organically sourced honey as a food option for the hive.
Like biodynamic beekeeping, organic beekeeping involves a complete avoidance of chemicals and pesticides for the control of mites as well as adding fertilizers to the surrounding flora. To be classified as an organic beehive, the land within the colony’s flying radius must be organically farmed and be free from any chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers. Honey produced by an organic colony can therefore be classed as organic honey.
Biodynamic beekeeping is the practice of providing a completely natural environment for bees. Only natural materials are used in the hive and swarming is allowed. The queen is allowed free movement within the hive and should not be replaced regularly.
Those who practice biodynamic beekeeping do not see themselves as keepers or ‘havers’ of bees and most will refer to themselves as bee stewards rather than beekeepers.