The Barefoot Beekeeper
About The Barefoot Beekeeper
Beekeeping has been all about honey production. Now we need to learn to value bees for their own sake - for their part in nature as pollinators of many plant species, both wild and cultivated.
The Barefoot Beekeeper is available in print or as an ebook from www.biobees.com
The Asian Yellow-Legged Hornet - Vespa velutina - has rampaged through France and for the last three years has occupied Jersey in the Channel Islands, threatening to invade mainland Britain using any means possible. Several nests were found and destroyed in 2019 near the south coast of England, but we cannot be certain that others went unnoticed. This insect presents a clear and present danger to honeybees especially, with beekeepers in France losing about one in three of their hives every year to this pest. It will also cause big problems for other bees and other insects, as it has a voracious appetite and a talent for hunting down its prey. Beekeepers will be very much on the front line in the battle to keep V. velutina out of this country, as we are likely to be the first to spot it. Do familiarise yourselves with its appearance and behaviour, and educate others so that we stand the best chance of intercepting it before it becomes established. Visit http://ahat.org.uk for some excellent photos, which will help you distinguish it from similar-looking insects. If you can spare some time, join your local AHAT and learn how to trap and track it to its nest. (For some reason, the AHAT link has been sending to the wrong site. it should go to ahat.org.uk )
We were on the Bovey Heathfield Nature Reserve, near Bovey Tracey in Devon, looking for Heath Potter Wasps with the noted naturalist John Walters, so I took the opportunity to record a short interview... Brigit's new book, Dancing with Bees, is published by Chelsea Green and available from http://beestrawbridge.blogspot.com
Ragna invited me to Norway to talk to beekeepers about the possibility of using different ways to look after bees, and different hives, including, of course, the top bar hive. I had a very enjoyable week in this beautiful country, thanks to my hosts Ragna Jorgensen and Joshua, who will feature in the next podcast, once I have finished editing our long discussion in the car, while driving around the stunning north western coastline of Norway. This recording was made in the woods outside Oslo, and I made the mistake of leaving my phone switched on (and receiving a swarm call) so please excuse the occasional radio frequency interference that this caused in my audio recorder.
The Asian Yellow-Legged Hornet, Vespa velutina, is a serious threat to bees and beekeeping in Britain, given its predatory nature and the fact that a large nest may contain 10-12,000 hungry insects. It also poses a secondary threat to birds and bats, as it has the ability to consume massive numbers of their prey, while themselves being virtually immune from attack by any of our native species. PLEASE LEARN ABOUT THIS DANGEROUS PEST and look out for news about it, preferably by checking the news page on https://friendsofthebees.org and don't rely on newspapers, which regularly feature pictures of the wrong species. There is an Android app called "Asian Hornet Watch" that makes identification and reporting easy: this is an invasive non-native species that must be reported to http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet If you use FaceBook, look for my page "Defending Britain Against the Asian Hornet" for news and updates.
Willie Robson has appeared on my podcast several times already, so if you are a regular listener, you will recognize his Northumbrian accent by now. Comb honey has always been an important feature of Chain Bridge Honey Farm and in this talk, Willie explains why it is important to their profitability and how they go about their production process. https://www.chainbridgehoney.com
Phil Chandler, teacher and author of 'The Barefoot Beekeeper', talks about 'balanced beekeeping' and explains why he believes we need to change both the way we grow our food and the way we work with honeybees if we want them - and ourselves - to survive and thrive. Beekeeping has been all about honey production. Now we need to learn to value bees for their own sake - for their part in nature as pollinators of many plant species, both wild and cultivated. The Barefoot Beekeeper is available in print or as an ebook from www.biobees.com
Willie Robson and his family have been keeping bees in Northumberland since the 1950s. Few people know more than he does about honey farming with the native black bee, and fewer still have successfully kept them for so long in a commercial context. This is one of two talks by Willie that I recorded at the 2018 BIBBA conference in Cirencester. The Robson family run Chainbridge Honey Farm and you can see their web site at https://www.chainbridgehoney.com
Bryn Simon, President of Sydney Inner West Beekeepers, NSW, Australia, was in the UK and asked if he could visit and ask me some questions. The sound quality is not perfect: there was a fair bit of background noise from road drills and seagulls, and I had the gain turned up a little too high, but if you can overlook that, we had a good chat about bees and beekeeping.
Dave Goulson is Professor of Biology at Sussex University, founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and has published over 200 scientific articles on the ecology of bees and other insects. His published books include Bumblebees; their behaviour, ecology and conservation (2010, Oxford University Press) and A Sting in the Tale (2013, Jonathan Cape), and A Buzz in the Meadow (2017, Vintage Books. Brigit Strawbridge is a campaigner on behalf of bumblebees and other wild bees and is currently working on her first book. Our conversation includes ways in which beekeepers can help support other pollinators; the impact of pesticides, habitat loss and diseases on wild bees; the dangers of neonicotinoids, and the current state of bee research. Recorded at Brimpts Farm on Dartmoor during the Moor Meadows conference on July 1st 2017.
Caring for bees needs to start with a healthy soil. Modern agriculture uses a lot of chemicals just to grow our food, let alone the processing. That harms the soil, plants, and the pollinators. There is a different way, and we need more people educated to create that healthy environment. Daniel, who is the interviewer in this podcast is currently gathering funds to learn soil microbiology from the perspective of growing any kind of plant without chemicals, and guaranteeing maximum nutrition and yield. If you have a garden, some land, a crop, and wish to see the quality of the biology under your feet, consider taking his offer of soil testing once he finishes his course. As a thank you for believing in him, the cost is much reduced from what is currently available. See the link in the description, pledge your support, and pass it on. Daniel's Permaculture Podcast http://danieltyrkiel.co.uk/podcast/ Daniel's Crowdfunder http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/know-the-true-health-of-your-soil
I was invited to the BIBBA Conference on the Isle of Man this year to talk about top bar hives. This is my talk, lightly edited to remove the soundtrack of a video at the end. My talk was introduced by Johnny Kipps, a resident of the island, who took me to see his top bar hives during one of the lunch breaks. You can see the video of his hives, complete with local black bees, here https://youtu.be/jRebDnqj-wc
I met up with Kate Atchley after a weekend spent teaching a group of beginners at Glenuig, in the Lochaber area on the coast south of the Isle of Skye. Kate started beekeeping in London, later in Edinburgh and latterly on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, just north of Mull. We had an interesting conversation about black bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) and other aspects of beekeeping in Scotland.
This is Part 2 of the session with Willie Robson, which has a somewhat better sound quality as the storm had reduced in strength by the time we had finished lunch. Willie spent an hour answering questions from the audience and I think you will find this session very interesting, especially if you keep or are planning to keep black bees. I should also mention that I have just published another book, called Balanced Beekeeping II: Managing the Top Bar Hive. It has taken me nearly two years to write and edit and it has 385 pages full of the most useful tips and techniques I know to help you set up, populate and manage a top bar hive. Take a look on my site at biobees.com under books and you will find both paperback and ebook versions. Willie Robson has written a fascinating book, full of his accumulated wisdom, called, "Reflections on Beekeeping", published by Northern Bee Books. Thanks to Graham White for the use of his photo of Willie with an open hive.
Willie Robson runs between 1500 and 2000 hives as a family business in Northumberland, the most northerly county in England. This is a challenging environment, with high rainfall and cold winters, often with weeks of snow. He uses only native "black" bees, which have adapted to the climate and - according to Willie - to his management methods, which are of necessity based on a relatively low-interference protocol. This recording was made in Cornwall on 6th February 2016, where Willie was giving a talk about his beekeeping methods and sharing his 53 years of experience with an audience of black bee enthusiasts. The sound quality on this recording is not the best, as the edge of a hurricane was causing a fair amount of background noise. Willie's web site is http://www.chainbridgehoney.co.uk
This is possibly the most important podcast I have recorded this year, not so much because of my part in it, but because most of it is a recording of a talk by Dr Vandana Shiva at a conference held at Dartington Hall on October 7th 2014. Vandana is one of the leading lights in the fight against the corporations that are intent on patenting life in all its forms, and owning the entire food chain, worldwide, from seed to mouth. If you think I am exaggerating this claim for dramatic effect, a recent survey by GMWATCH showed that Monsanto already own one quarter of the world seed market, and the top ten corporations - including Bayer, DuPont and Syngenta - between them own over two thirds of the worlds crop seeds. There were other speakers at this event, but for this podcast I will include my own 10-minute talk, followed by Vandana Shiva. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope Vandana inspires you to join the fight against the destruction of life as we know it by these criminal organizations posing as legitimate corporations. http://www.gmwatch.org/gm-firms/10558-the-worlds-top-ten-seed-companies-who-owns-nature http://bestmeal.info/monsanto/company-history.shtml#timeline