Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get bees ?

We suggest you look at our UK map to find a local natural beekeeping group and ask if they can help you. We also suggest you set up 'bait' hive to attract swarms. The Natural Beekeeping trust is not able to supply bees

Where can I buy ethically produced honey?

The Trust's view on honey and it's use can be found on this page. We do not know of volume sources of honey production which also aligns with the Trust views on bee health care. Small quantities of honey can sometime be purchased from Natural beekeeping groups found on this map.

How can I start keeping bees in a more natural way?

We recommend you find an good mentor who will guide you. Most natural beekeeping groups provide support for beginners. You can find a UK map here. There are also good online support groups. For example David Heaf's warre group We provide a details of books we recommend here. The Trust will from time to time post details of courses and talks on it's web site.

How can I make a donation to the trust?

You can find a pay pal donate form here, as well as our bank account details if you would prefer to make a bank transfer of standing order.

Do honey bees compete with other bee species ?

All species compete for resources, and any successful species can out compete others. This can include bumble bees between themselves, honey bees and undoubtedly the most consuming of all - humans.

In Europe honey bees have been a part of our landscape since the ice age (more info). In North America they have been naturalised now for centries - the country is not just a "melting pot" of human cultures. Honey bees have just as much right to exist wild and free in our landscapes as any other insect. Unfortunately many conservationists see the honey bee as an agricultural animal taking nectar and potentially spreading disease, and many beekeepers deny the bee’s natural biology to exist wild and free - afraid of these unmanaged bees.

However wild honey bees have a very different biology to bees in boxes kept for honey. We must separate what we do to bees, from their true nature.

Wild bees typically choose cavities which are much smaller, and warmer than box hives – A colony living in a 30-40 ltr tree cavity will need just 60kg of nectar per year compared to 600kg of a large commercial hive.

Removal of honey has the largest impact on the hive development compared to anything else. Typically once honey bees have food security their behaviour switches to other more balanced behaviour such as hive maintenance and hygiene. As a result wild hive is typically less stressed and free from disease.

In one of the widest reviews of wild bee health the research conclusion was: "There seem to be many reasons why beekeepers’ colonies should have more disease than wild colonies. It is difficult to formulate such plausible reasons for the opposite point of view, and the evidence so far received indicates that wild colonies are the more healthy"

The Canadian Bee Journal published this report in 1935: "Michigan has, or had, at the date here mentioned, the most drastic bee disease law that the writer has had access to. This is a heavily timbered state, and there are a great many bee trees. These bee trees are "illegal" and are vigorously searched out and destroyed. from the official report of state inspection for the year 1929 we will copy a paragraph: “Bees in trees are considered illegal, and are either killed and sealed up, or removed. The peculiar thing noted last year, that no disease was found in trees, was found to be true the past season; although a large number of colonies of bees in trees were removed and destroyed.“ During the season of 1929, 13.3 per cent of the regular colonies in the state of Michigan were found to be diseased with A.F.B."

It is important not to confuse honey bee behaviours and problems caused by humans with true free wild bee behaviour. Conservationist should in the view of the Trust be working to protect wild honey bees as much as other bee species. Wild honey bees in many parts of Europe would now qualify for protected red list status as they can no longer live in the wild. It is not too late to reverse this.

All bees are now competing for food because we humans have removed their food resources and unleashed a chemical warfare against them. Now is not a time to pit one pollinator against another - pollinators enhance the landscape and create more resources in doing so. Instead we need to focus on sources of the problem.

We have also removed bee habitats. The natural habitat of the wild free honey bee is ancient forests. If an ancient forest is destroyed to make way for roads or trains ... it is gone. The creatures that once lived in the forest cannot wait 500 years for a new forest to grow. We cannot "mitigate" the loss of an ancient forest; one thousand hundred year old oaks have less biodiversity than a single ancient oak.

This is why the Natural Beekeeping Trust promotes low density natural beekeeping and respect for all natures spirits. We reject commercial intensive beekeeping practices which not only harm honey bees but also other species.

The honey bee is an exemplar of how to be in this world; the more industrious the bee is, the more the world is enhanced. For all that honey bees have done for us – they deserve our respect, love and protection.

Are beekeepers responsible for honey bee decline?

They are partly responsible, but we are all responsible in a way: A good number of the beekeeping problems are listed here: and by preventing natural behaviour we have effectively stopped the most important driver of bee health in the last 45million years: As predicted by Steiner over over 100 years ago, we are now seeing the cost of our beekeeping actions in the exact time frame he predicted. But I say partly responsible ... because we have to accept that generally we have removed the bees sources of clean food, we have waged chemical warfare against nature in our food production systems and we are changing the climate.

Disclaimer: Whilst the trustees believe that any methods and research published through this website are beneficial to bee health in general, they cannot accept any legal liability to users of this website for any losses or damage sustained as a result of following any of the suggestions or methods described.


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