Surrey Beekeepers Association October 2017

Last weekend I listened to Kirk Webster (http://kirkwebster.com/), who is visiting on invitation of the Richmond Beekeepers Association. Thank you to RBA for organizing this.

Kirk is a Vermont commercial Beekeeper, who does not treat his bees (or for short, is treatment free). From the beginning, the term “treatment free” has struck me the wrong way, as it seems to indicate that you can buy bees, put them in your back yard and forget about them, until it’s time to harvest the honey. Then after harvest, you quickly forget about them until the next spring. Clearly, this does not work this way, and Kirk Webster demonstrated this clearly in his presentation

It is Kirk’s approach that bees can adapt to challenges and that not treating will give them an advantage. To achieve it is a process. It includes a lot of techniques, which our ancestor beekeepers used, but have been fallen out of memory (or fashion) with the onset of a more industrious way of beekeeping.

So, in a way he goes back to go to the future. The elements he uses are honey producing colonies, breeder and cell breeding colonies, nucleus colonies and micro mating colonies, some of which he can place in isolated areas. As Kirk says, it’s building on what Brother Adam did at Buckfast Abbey starting 1915.

(Fun Fact: Brother Adam was born Karl Kehrle, in Germany. He was sent to Buckfast Abbey by his mother when he was 11 years old, due to health problems)

Kirk also selected Russian bees as his preferred stock, because these bees have had longer experience with Varroa, and are used to a climate similar to that in Vermont.

He has mastered the art to direct the concert between those elements and, since he controls the genetic traits of his queen offspring, has gradually strengthened his apiaries, and has not treated since 1998.

I like to call what he has achieved Sustainable. So, if you want to become sustainable as a beekeeper, tell me how you want to go about achieving this goal. 

I fully agree with Kirk, Mike Palmer and other beekeepers, that achieving sustainability and a strong apiary is a goal worthwhile pursuing. It also rings well with the Motto of our Association: “Dedicated to Better Beekeeping”. If you want to be sustainably you better up your game.

Looking forward to seeing you October 18th …

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Thomas

SBA President

 

 

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