Co-founder - Free Bees ("Wolne Pszczoły”)

Bartłomiej Maleta

Bartłomiej is a treatment free amateur-backyard beekeeper from Poland. In his apiary he seeks the thin common space between beekeeping and the natural biology of Honey bees. He is co-founder and board member of the Natural Beekeeping Association "Free Bees” ("Wolne Pszczoły”) - An organisation which promotes natural ways of keeping bees.

Abstract(s) for Parallel Sessions

Progressive Beekeeping

In time of industrial agriculture and Varroa mite, effective and efficient beekeeping without constant usage of toxic or biocidal substances has become very difficult in Poland, if not impossible.

This concerns especially amateur backyard beekeepers, whose loss in apiaries are sometimes impossible to restore from their own resources. That is why Polish amateur beekeepers have founded organization, thanks to which we can not only promote natural beekeeping, but help each other in achieving the goal of treatment free bees. I hope to present some basic information about the ways of cooperating and being a help for each other, we have worked out in our association. I would also like to talk a little closer about our natural selection project - "Fort Knox", which is one of the basis of our partnership and a system of guarantees for one another.

Torben Schiffer

Working for Prof. Jürgen Tautz / Hobos Project (University Würzburg), his research focuses on the climatic conditions of tree cavities and beehives, and the effects on bee health. Additionally he is an expert on the symbiotic relationship between book scorpions and honeybees. He proved that book scorpions feed i.a. on varroa mites and beetle larvae (such as small hive beetle). Furthermore he is exploring the effects of beekeeping on the grooming behavior of bees.

Abstract(s) for Parallel Sessions

Progressive Beekeeping

There are three topics that Torben will cover :


1. The microclimatic circumstances in tree cavities and modern hives and its effects on bee health

2. The pseudoscorpions as bio agents and bio indicators for a healthy and stable ecosystem

3. The effects of modern beekeeping / harvesting honey on the grooming behavior of honeybees

Co-founder - Free the Bees

André Wermelinger

André a specialist in natural organic beekeeping, and course instructor. Founding president of FREETHEBEES Switzerland. Co-founder of Tree Beekeeping International. André's passion lies in the continuous improvement of sustainable processes. In the past honey yield was of primary importance, however today the focus of attention needs to be oriented towards pollination, biodiversity and the long-term preservation of the honey bee species, Apis mellifera

Abstract(s) for Parallel Sessions

Progressive Beekeeping

Despite the fact that science and practitioners confirm the ability of the honeybee to live healthily even with the varroa mite, Swiss beekeepers continue to routinely treat their bees with organic acids, thus circumventing natural selection, and despite known and well documented collateral damages.

New parasites, such as the small hive beetle or the Asiatic hornet are just on the way to gain ground in Switzerland and Germany. It is certain that there will also be new viruses, new bacteria and new fungi in the not so distant future. It will become more and more difficult to cope with all those threats on a chemical basis.

So, why not just let nature do the work? Let's reinstall natural selection; the ONLY way of having locally adapted bees to whatever problems our bees might face in the future. More than 30 millions of years have proven the powerful natural principal.

Not treating all our bees from one day to another could lead into a mess and serious problems in pollination, at least for a period of transition. Therefore, we need to initiate this phase strategically. The vision, where we want to go, is clear. We have worked the concepts to go. The solution can only be achieved, when we start joining our forces and work together. Like the bees: every single individual is just working on the behalf of its colony. 


Matthias Wucherer

Matthias Wucherer is a biologist and graduated in evolutionary ecology on glowing fishes. After becoming a beekeeper, he started his career in a multi-national corporation investigating effects of pesticides produced by all major companies in the industry. His great concerns about the ways of modern agriculture led him to become head of the „Blooming Landscapes Network“ (Netzwerk Blühende Landschaft), where he is dedicated to change our land use in favour of biodiversity and healthy populations of pollinating insects.

Description of our Initiative:

The Blooming Landscapes Network is based on regional groups of activists, who are dedicated to increase numbers and diversity of flowering plants in all areas: rural and urban, private gardens as as well as public areas, in crop-farming as well as in grasslands and forestries. Cooperations include hundreds of small initiatives like flowers in kindergardens up to guiding global grocery trade companies towards more sustainability. Currently, the most prominent project is called the „Bee’s Realm of Flowers“, where a network of 100 ha  blooming insect paradise areas (2018) is created based on citizen sponsorship.

Shirley Vaughan

For more than 30 years, Shirley has been quietly converting some of San Francisco’s finest rooftops, courtyards, and balconies to pesticide-free zones, creating habitat with diverse and chemical-free food for pollinators.  She and her team of horticultural professionals have learned over time how to create organic, mostly native gardens in impossibly small containers within the hardscape.  All this in the shadows of a canyon of high rises,  about as far as you can get from a wild and natural setting.

The corporate world has an exacting visual aesthetic and design standard, which doesn’t lend itself to natives very easily.  Creating pollinator-friendly habitat that meets those standards has developed after years of experimentation.  For example, natives with aggressive roots are taken out periodically, and donated to non-profits and schools.  Pollinator-friendly plants are also rotated out seasonally, to extend the bloom period and availability of food.  And vermicomposting in the basement of a 48-story building creates the compost tea which is key to restoring the nutrients and biology that don’t exist in containerized plantings.

Tens of thousands of people experience her gardens every day along the cable car run on California Street. The educational aspect of that exposure is very satisfying to Shirley, and seeing the joy it brings to people to see all the life that is attracted to them.  Honeybees, native bees, birds, butterflies and more, prove if you build it, they will come.

Johannes Wirz

Johannes Wirz is a molecular biologist on the staff of the Research Laboratory at the Goetheanum, Switzerland. He edits the journal Elemente der Naturwissenschaft, and  is a co-founder of Ifgene, a scholarly network exploring the implications of genetic engineering. He is a board member of  Mellifera e.V. where his efforts are directed at developing criteria for beekeeping that do not include chemical attacks against the varroa mite.

Abstract(s) for Parallel Sessions

Lessons from the Hive

On my relationship with the bees

I relate to honeybees in three ways: 

First, they are a permanent source of magic and wonder some of which are unraveled by colleagues and friends in the scientific literature.

Second, my hives invite me to learn their language and wisdom from colony to heart. I create moments in my work where I expose myself with devotion and unbiased attention to warmth, odours and humming sound. I admire the warmth flowing out of the entrance hole as symbol of abundance, a gift to nature and man. The odours of a hive recall its entire biography - prominent "letters" tell about the recent forage activities; delicate ones tell stories of the months and years before. Sound: I connect to the heart of the colony in the winter cluster and to the giants of the hives in the summertime - feeling one with them.

Third, I feel connected to the spiritual level of my colonies when I think on the non-violent encounter between flower and forager bee, when I reflect on the fact that the activity of a single bee is service to her yet unborn sisters and that bees are beings of plentifulness - without which the future of nature and man would be at risk.

Michael Joshin Thiele

Apiculturist, Zeidler, Founder of Gaia Bees and Apis Arborea

The Mystery of Honeybees: Compass Point, Enigma and Soul Plasma.
Rewilding: Embracing an Ecology of Diverse and Interconnected Selves.

Michael lives with his family, and an infinity of bees, in the oak woodlands of Northern California

Link: www.apisarborea.com    www.gaiabees.com

Abstracts for Parallel Sessions

Spirit of the Hive

Entering the soul-scape of Apis Arborea

Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ (all my relations; Lakota)

Apis Arborea, the one who lives in symbiosis with and in the womb of trees, also known as Apis Mellifera, follows a modality of being in this world which is radically different from our own default way of thinking and being.  ‘Her’ selfhood appears as a multilayered field and embodiment alike and occupies a dimension of being beyond the imagination of our monadic sense of self.

When we enter the soul-scape of Apis Arborea, it allows us to tap into the fluidity of our own identity and to experience a deeply interconnected sense of self; it allows us to move into bewilderment where the mind wanders without certainties.  This, in turn, requires courage to enter an ineffable field without the patchwork of maps of our old left brain world.

Bees change our understanding of what selves are and how they emerge, dissolve, and merge into new kinds of ‘we’.  This is the landscape of an apiculture beyond bees. In the mystery of an intimate communion with bees can we find refuge and a deep sense of belonging.

The apian wisdom, or Apisophia, is a compass point for our cultural, psychological and spiritual life, and introduces us to a world of inter-being.  It is also Apisophia which then transforms apiculture into a ceremonial practice and a loci of stillness and contemplation.‘Io ho quel che ho donato.’   (We have what we have given)

Jaap Molenaar

Jaap Molenaar is chairman of the Bee-foundation, which is a Dutch foundation whom represents the interests of honey - and wild bees in the Netherlands.

Co-founder Bee Time

Jorge Gallardo

Creator and researcher in the field of performing arts and co-founder of BeeTime, a residential program for artistic research, based in Southern Andalusia, Spain. 

BeeTime creates spaces to develop creative thought processes and socio-ecological art practices inspired by the honeybee.  Artists from all discipline as well as researchers from fields such as systems thinking, humanities, social sciences and deep ecology are invited to learn about a bee-centered approach to beekeeping, and a regenerative approach to the landscape. http://beetime.net/en/

Abstract(s) for Parallel Sessions

The Beehive Metaphor

In certain social art experiences, both the idea of the sublime associated with the work of art and the very instance of authorship are suspended. What becomes "valuable" is proximity and the ability to link environments and inhabitants, forming centres of collective experimentation linked to a particular locality. If artistic practice is related to nature and ecology, the values by which the quality of art is measured can be radically altered. This is the case of the Bee Time Artist Residencies, conceived as contexts for research, creation and exchange between natural beekeepers and artists. Social art progressively seeks the contact between artistic practice and everyday life (rural, usual) trying to break down the state of exception posed by the artistic work. Permanence, intimacy and proximity replace the terms of beauty and virtuosity, classically associated with the work of art and its realization.

Cher Haurova

Cher Haurova and the Bees Tree Good organisation are creating stunning natural living spaces for honeybees in the middle of Frankfurt.

Nil Ilkbasaran

Nil works to inspire people of diverse age groups and disciplines on the reciprocity between bees, humans and nature. 

She is the co-initiator, facililator and collaborative artist in the participatory project "For the Love of Bee!". Realized through a series of workshops across Turkey, this project aims to pass on the wisdom of nature and the world of honeybees as a source of inspiration for the creative expressions of participants.

Founder Honey Highway

Deborah Post

Deborah Post is the founder of HONEY HIGHWAY - A permanent paradise for bees in the roadsides of highways and on dikes. And land of landowners. Successful projects are realised in collaboration with government and big companies throughout the whole country. Honey Highway is a total concept: making land suitable, sowing soil specific multi-annual wild flower seeds, mowing requirements and monitoring. And the communication around it to tell people in villages and towns how parties fill in their sustainability agenda as a business, by involving primary school children and students in research into the soil and by sowing, by organizing biodynamic beekeeping courses, and by organizing bee-dinners at the country house in Schipluiden www.honeyhighway.nl


Feeding the Bees, My Way

The Bee itself must become stronger. Of course it will help enormously if beekeepers start heeding the principles of  natural selection, I totally agree. But I believe that bees will become stronger when they get a greater variety of good  food to eat. 80% of the bees in the world get sugar during food scarcity, which can never be healthy. Bees deserve better than that, of this I am certain, and  this is why the Honey Highway initiative was born. Lots of farmland and roadsides are protein-rich grasslands; the roadsides and dykes are nothing but green deserts.  A Honey Highway consists of regional organic wild flowers. Honey Highway is a long lasting bee paradise along roadsides of motorways, railways and waterways. And the communication that invariably happens around such honey highways indicate  that this model of forage creation for pollinators is also effective in giving direction to the sustainability agenda of businesses - through informing people in villages and towns that the sea of flowers is for the bees ….by involving primary school children in sowing. By having students do research into the soil, and flowers that are originally grown and sown with their help.  I am happy to point to the success of flowering paradises alongside motorways, ,railways and waterways throughout the whole country. Besides these communal projects more and more landowners and project developers are making their land available to enable us to transform the forage of our bees and pollinators.

Abstract(s) for Parallel Sessions

A Land of Plenty

Deborah will tell how she made Honey Highway happen.  Honey Highway is a  long lasting bee paradise at roadsides of highways, railways, and waterways. It is a total concept: it is making the soil suitable, sowing 44 sorts of multi-annual wild flower seeds which are soil-specific, mowing requirements for 5 years and monitoring. And it is the communication around it to tell you that this is the way to fill in your sustainability agenda as a business. To tell people in villages and towns that the sea of flowers is for the bees, by involving primary school children in sowing. By having students do research into the soil, and flowers and helping to sow. Also by distributing bags of organic flower seeds to primary school children. By placing indication signs, by organizing the biodynamic beekeeping course and by organizing Bee-diners at our Countryhouse in the village Schipluiden.

Dr Tjeerd Blacquiere

Tjeerd Blacquiere has been a beekeeper for 30 years, in honeybee research since 2001. He has been involved in neonicotinoid research, but now focuses on naturally acquired resistance of bees to varroa.

Abstracts for Parallel Sessions:

Natural Selection (Day 1)

There is consensus that the ubiquitous ecto-parasitic mite Varroa destructor, is the main biological threat to global apiculture. It has also almost completely wiped out wild European honey bee, Apis mellifera, populations. The only remedy for apiculture to date is frequent control measures against the mite throughout the season, which however blocks possible genetic adaptation.

So far targeted breeding efforts have not achieved tolerant or resistant bees, but natural selection has been successful at least six times. Natural selection can be applied in an apicultural setting. This approach being used for 10 years has shown to result in grosso modo ‘normal’ colonies with a high level of resistance to varroa.

Based on these results we now propose to naturally select for resistance to varroa by stopping treatment of the varroa mite in managed colonies and using a few methodological preconditions which help to avoid unacceptable outcomes for apiculture. Such natural selection can be performed on a local scale by local beekeepers, with their own local bees, and may strongly benefit from and contribute to local adaptation. Having started with new colonies in 2018 on two locations in Europe we call for groups willing to join our initiative on their locations.

Wild Bees, Bees in Trees, Re-wilding  (Day 2)

Honey bees can thrive in nature if ‘Bed & Breakfast’ are warranted: enough nesting sites of correct size (trees with cavities), and sufficient food (nectar and pollen) to support colonies during the whole year. Then in addition they need to be sufficiently resilient to a variety of challenges and stresses.

Honey bees are an endemic wild species in (Western) Europe, nevertheless there are only very few feral populations of colonies, partly because there is a lack of nest sites. Since the presence of Varroa destructor most of the then remaining feral populations have succumbed. Because beekeepers treat colonies against the mites, no selection for resistance can take place. Therefore, learning about Arnot forest, Avignon and Gotland, we allowed natural selection against Varroa to take place in a beekeepers setting since 2007, taking care to stay remote from ‘regular’ beekeeping. Now that nature has provided us by natural selection with rather Varroa resistant honeybee populations, why not give back to nature what we received? From this year onward we will start to re-introduce honey bee colonies into the wild from our (locally derived) Varroa resistant stock:

  • We choose two locations in the Netherlands, with trees and with enough forage, and satisfactory remote from ‘regular’ beekeepers

  • We place “Seeley Swarm Boxes” at sufficient height in the trees in autumn 2018 (20 per site)

  • We place 10 colonies of the selected populations per site in early spring 2019, and allow them to swarm. We hope the swarms will occupy many of our nest boxes

  • We repeat the placing of colonies for swarming in spring 2020

Prof Peter Neumann

Professor Dr. Peter Neumann is the Vinetum professor of the Institute of Bee Health. His research and teaching covers all aspects of bee health with focus on behavioural, evolutionary and molecular ecology of honey bees and their pathogens.

Co-founder BEE TIME

Karmit Evenzur

Is a geomancer, beekeeper and co-founder of BeeTime, a residential program for artistic research, based in Southern Andalusia, Spain. BeeTime creates spaces to develop creative thought processes and socio-ecological art practices inspired by the honeybee.  Artists from all discipline as well as researchers from fields such as systems thinking, humanities, social sciences and deep ecology are invited to learn about a bee-centered approach to beekeeping, and a regenerative approach to the landscape.

Abstracts for Parallel Sessions

Spirit of the Land

Karmit Even-Zur explores in her work the creative language used to speak with the earth and for the earth. She will discuss in this session, practical ways of supporting the living landscape, through practices of earth energy work.

Trustee Natural Beekeeping Trust

Jonathan Powell

Conference Chairman, Natural Beekeeping Trust Trustee, Tree Beekeeper and conference web master. As with his bees - Jonathan is never happier high up in a tree.


"Sometimes a man must go alone into the forest and die into its heart, so he can  bring back the forgotten pieces of this world" - The Bright Burning by Daverick Leggett

Abstract(s) for Parallel Sessions

Wild Bees, Bees in Trees, Rewilding

Jonathan is currently running two large scale re-wilding projects in 2,000+ acre organic farms in Spain and the UK, each with very different starting points: The first uses the local wild un-managed bees and provides new nesting opportunities where there are few, the second starts with 30 commercially managed hives to see if these bees can be re-wilded back into the forest setting. The talk will cover the highs and lows of each project and the design decisions.

Prof Thomas D Seeley

Prof Thomas D Seeley’s scientific research into the behaviour and social life of honeybees has given the world of beekeeping invaluable impulses for better sustainable practice. Through his groundbreaking work documented in Honeybee Democracy and Following the Wild Bees our understanding of bee behaviour and biology has been greatly enriched. Consequently Thomas Seeley has become the “patron saint” of beekeepers looking for bee-centered and sustainable approaches.

Abstracts for Parallel Sessions

Natural Selection

Of bees possessing naturally selected resistance for varroa mites, the honey bees of the Arnot Forest in New York state (USA) are particularly intriguing.  From swarms captured in this forest, we know that the wild colonies living here have been infested with varroa mites since at least 2003. We also know that the colonies living in this forest persist at the same density today as they did in 1978 (ca. 1 colony/km2), long before the arrival of Varroa destructor.   Furthermore, genetic investigations have revealed that the Arnot Forest bees are neither Africanized bees nor the offspring of the nearest managed colonies, but instead are the descendants of the bees that were living wild in this forest forty years ago.

These genetic analyses have also yielded two insights into the history of the Arnot Forest bees between 1977 and 2011: 1) they experienced a dramatic population decline, and 2) they experienced strong natural selection. I will review the history of study of the Arnot Forest bees and will discuss the results of recent studies that have revealed some of the behavioral mechanisms that natural selection has favored to create immunity to the varroa mite in this population of wild colonies.

Wild Bees, Bees in Trees, Rewilding

The mechanisms of behavioral resistance to varroa mites of the wild honey bee colonies living in the Arnot Forest (USA) I will review the history of natural selection for resistance to varroa mites that the honey bee colonies living in the Arnot Forest experienced over the past 40 years, and I will describe the evidence that these honey bees possess multiple behavioral mechanisms of resistance to these Mites.

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