Beekeeping 101: Organic, Natural, Traditional

The health and wellness of pollinators, particularly honey bees, is a frequent topic in the news these days. For good reason.  If you’ve followed the news blast you’re aware that honey bees as well as wild pollinators are struggling.  I recently read a report that claimed a 40% loss of honey bee hives in the US for 2014-2015.  The same report states an ‘acceptable’ loss of 15-18% of hives.

There seems to be a general acknowledgment that environment toxicity is the leading cause of honey bee and pollinator decline.  Few seem willing to blame one particular toxin, but pesticides in general seem to be getting the brunt of the blame.  The almond industry in California is highly dependent on honey bees for pollination services.  California produces 80% of the world’s almonds and requires the services of a whopping 60% of the managed honey bee hives in the US!  Needless to say, they’re noticing that 40% loss of honey bee hives in the US.  And the rest of us are feeling the sticker shock when reaching for a bag of almonds at the store.

A 40% hive loss can be really daunting for the backyard beekeeper too.  I hear from many new and aspiring beekeepers that they are reluctant to invest in honey bees because the odds seem to be stacked against them.  Thankfully, there are alternatives!

Jacob Wustner, second-generation beekeeper from Missoula, MT has some alternatives to share in his new course: Beekeeping 101: Organic, Natural, Traditional.  Jacob has amassed an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge regarding keeping honeybees.  He grew up within the commercial, conventional beekeeping industry; later ventured into organic beekeeping with his brother at Wustner Brothers Honey; then recently launched into a Permaculture approach to keeping honey bees with Sapphire Apiaries.  His knowledge of ecology and Permaculture allows him to teach from a wholistic perspective that is very informative, very interesting, and very helpful when it comes to understanding honey bees.

Jacob believes in treatment-free, small-cell beekeeping.  In this course Jacob shares his philosophies around why conventional beekeeping doesn’t work anymore.  He talks about genetics, and ecology, and letting the bees take care of things themselves.  Jacob returns beekeeping to an approachable endeavor.  By focusing on hardy genetics, self-queening, and return to an ecologically appropriate cell-size Jacob sets the bees up to take care of themselves.  He also sets the beekeeper up for success by teaching responsible, ecologically-aware beekeeping practices.  Jacob will set you on a beekeeping path that is good for the bees and the beekeeper.  I hope you enjoy learning from Jacob.  I did!