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Bees in a Box - 150 Years of Indoctrination

Bee Tree Hives bee-centered beekeeping beekeeping chemical-free beekeeping natural beekeeping organic beekeeping preservationist beekeeping sustainable beekeeping treatment-free beekeeping

"Indoctrination: the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically."

I follow a number of beekeeping facebook groups.  The combined membership of these groups easily exceeds 100,000 people.  Of course, who knows how many duplicates there are from group to group.  I'm certainly a duplicate in all of the groups that I follow.

However, I am amazed and appalled at how often beekeepers, particularly in the U.S., write posts from the perspective of "keeping bees in a box," as if that existence, for the bees, was the extent of their design and their history, their hope and their future. 

It's as if the ability of these beekeepers to think about honey bees, and how they're actually meant to live in the world, is limited to the space inside those wooden boxes.

Let me be clear, I don't fault these beekeepers. 

Our culture has romanticized the white-suited, veil-clad beekeeper with their smoker in hand and stacks of white boxes behind them.  This is what almost every person in the U.S., who considers beekeeping, pictures in their mind.  And this path of conventional/commercial beekeeping is the default path that new beekeepers find themselves on, without even thinking about it, far more often than not.


Because they don't even know that there's an alternative.

And, at the outset of their journey, they begin by studying conventional/commercial beekeeping rather than studying the bees themselves. 

It was my study of honey bees that led me to bee-centered beekeeping and, ultimately, to the creation of the hives I use.  My desire is that a honey bee colony can live from the place of the joyful hope of thriving, rather than just from the place of the grim determination to survive.

Can my hives be called "boxes?"  Yes, of course they can.  But, to the best of my ability, and in response to what I believe the bees are teaching me that they need, these hives are vastly different in ways that are critically important to the bees.

I'm still learning.  Always learning.  Always trying to learn from the bees themselves.  Open-minded.  Open-hearted.  Open-handed.

That's my hope for myself, anyway.  That's my hope for all of us.


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