Celebrating the Wildness

of Honeybees

The Natural Beekeeping Trust International Photographic Competition 2017

Photo Credit: Matt Somerville

Entry Dates: February 20th - September 1st 2017

The Natural Beekeeping Trust's unique photographic competition is a call to celebrate the honeybees' innate wildness. We encourage you to keep your eyes wide open to discover the places where honeybees live in freedom, in places of their own choosing - in rocks, chimneys, churches, trees and other secret places. Your photos will contribute to our mission to support the Bee in its essential wildness.

This Competition is free to enter for anyone. Children require an adult to enter on their behalf.

Up to four entries can be made - either individual pictures or a sequence of pictures telling a story, eg. following a bee and finding a hive or saving a tree colony

Competition Results

The aim of the competition was to celebrate the wildness of bees and draw attention to wild colonies that exist without any human interference. Although we knew the subject would be difficult to photograph, we received over 150 superb pictures from all around the world. 


The diversity of nest sites ranged from statues, port bollards, telephone junction boxes, the ruins of Ankor Wat, snow covered logs, caves, cliffs, ancient human settlements and of course trees ... lots of trees. The stories that came with the pictures described colonies of over 10 years in age, and even a cave which has hosted bee colonies for over 100 years.

First Place  - Guardian of the Oak - South Africa By Jenny Cullinan of Ujubee

A familiar scene to many beekeepers: the guard bee raising her front legs as bees arrive back, and the rapid negotiations following each arrival. Captured beautifully in this great photo showing a glimpse of unfettered bee life in the hollow of an old oak tree.

Joint Second Place  - A 10 year old wild colony in a hollow plane tree - France.

By Emmanuel Faure 

A rare glimpse inside a natural nest. The red propolised interior looks almost like an animal carcass. It reminds us that part of the superorganism is the propolis and hive shell, acting like a protective skin. Bees invest heavily in the production of propolis, it is a  key component of hive health. 

Joint Second Place - Nora's First Bee Hunt - USA

By Robin Radcliffe

The competition allowed entrants to submit a sequence of pictures to tell a story. These beautiful pictures of Nora's first bee hunt using a bee lining box speak for themselves.


I would like to thank the judges, Professor Thomas D Seeley of Cornell University and Heidi Herrmann of the Natural Beekeeping Trust for their help in the difficult task of selecting the final three pictures.


Jonathan Powell: Natural Beekeeping Trust and competition judge.

Competition Gallery

Competition Judges

Prof. Thomas D Seeley

Thomas 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. His passion and reverence for the honeybee

is an enduring source of inspiration for anyone interested in the life of bees.

In recognition of his scientific work, he has received the Alexander von Humboldt Distinguished U.S. Scientist Prize; he been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, received a Gold Medal Book Award from Apimondia for The Wisdom of the Hive, and been elected a Fellow of both the Animal Behaviour Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In his own words, his most enduring honour is to have had a species of bee named after him:  Neocorynurella seeleyi.

Jonathan Powell

Jonathan is a trustee of the Natural Beekeeping Trust as well as a founding member of Tree Beekeeping International, an organisation dedicated to furthering the craft of tree beekeeping.

Jonathan first started beekeeping as a child in the 70's, taught by his grandfather who kept bees for 60 years. In his beekeeping practice he is looking to learn from wild bees so as to let their preferences inform his beekeeping. To this end he was trained in the traditional methods of the Polish and Bakshir (Urals) tree beekeepers . He founded a peer group of natural beekeepers in Somerset,UK, writes at beeswing.net and gives talks and training on Bee Centered Beekeeping and Tree Beekeeping. 

He is the author of the first ever guide to Tree Beekeeping, and his work has recently been featured here 

Heidi Herrmann

For those familiar with the work of the Natural Beekeeping Trust, Heidi needs no introduction.  She is a founder trustee and a major contributor both to this website and the Trust's Facebook page.  She is a passionate and outspoken advocate of bee-centred beekeeping.  Her advocacy is based on experience, having kept many hives of bees naturally and treatment-free for longer than she is prepared to admit.  She's pretty keen on horses and sheep too.




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