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September Newsletter 2020

“Humanity is at a crossroads, a literal tipping point. If we are to transform, if we are to step off the path to our own destruction, we are going to have to consent to letting go of all that we have created thus far.”

Zach Bush

Dear Bee friends and Supporters of the Trust

So much has changed in our world since spring this year! The decision to cancel our conference, envisaged for late August at Dartington Hall in Devon was not taken lightly. Indeed, it has left us rather dispirited for some time, and at a loss for words. So we’re happy to be in touch again to share with you some of our and others’ experiences of this summer as well as our aspirations for the future.

Let's lift our eyes and spirits upwards away from our human problems and begin this newsletter with talk about swarming. In some parts of the country the blossoms’ nectar flow was impeded by drought - a kind of lock-down in the floral kingdom to which the bees reacted with total appropriateness as is their wont. What inspires us so greatly about these creatures is their unwavering dedication to do the right thing, at the right time and in right measure. The bees always know what to do and reproduction only happens when the conditions are right.

All the more significant that, judging by what we heard from our bee contacts in this country as well as Ireland, that so many of the swarms that did issue from particularly opulent colonies chose to inhabit the kind of natural dwelling that is offered by an ever growing number of people who dedicate themselves to offering bee-appropriate homes, often in elevated places, with no strings attached.

Here a few comments from our friends and associates:

Simon Kellam ( “This year has been a testing time for us all, but if bees are anything to go by, nature seems to have flourished. Having installed some 16 Eco Tree Hives over the SW of England, I have been absolutely astounded to see ALL of them occupied readily by swarms. Next year also promises to be an exciting one with a 2500 acre rewilding project, on a Cornish estate, in the pipeline.”

Matt Somerville ( “Despite initial concerns that over-attentive beekeepers would reduce the number of swarms, it has been another incredible swarm season. At least 65 of 72 new log/freedom hives were self populated by bees. Wonderful to witness scout bees investigating while I was still strapping hives to the trees, and on one occasion, a huge swarm arrived after only an hour! I can see that there is both a need from the bees for more suitable nesting sites and from people who simply want to enjoy being with these extraordinary insects rather than managing them to harvest honey. To witness scouts finding the hive, reach a consensus that it is the best available and then watching a swarm arrive is one of nature's many miracles."

Mick Verspuij ( Bees do best when left alone. This season the bees spread their wings in Inishowen, 52 swarms, all loghives erected this spring were occupied. The native black bees in Donegal and Ireland have a prosperous future ahead

Heidi Herrmann “This summer, all the swarms I was lucky to witness chose their own homes. It was quite an exercise in self-restraint not to "catch" them. And I am happy that they chose to stay with me. All of them. Naturally, I had made provision in spring to provide a good selection of possible homes.

Arboreal Apiculture Salons

We hope you find the time to enjoy the podcasts of our most recent salons. We know our podcasts to be extremely effective in reaching thousands of people across the world, which makes the intense effort needed to produce them worthwhile.

The theme of May’s salon was ‘Stillpoint’ which denotes an in-between state, a transitional time between past and future. ‘Stillpoint” invites us to reflect and become ever more conscious of what attracts and what ties us to the bees. --- July’s theme was “Rewilding Honeybess in various landscapes and eco-systems” , with special guest Andre Wermelinger, a passionate advocate of wildApis mellifera, promoting both legal protection and monitoring of wild colonies through Free the Bees.

Please visit our Salon page to sign up if you wish to be invited to these interesting events, or fancy listening into one of the podcasts. Our next live session will take place shortly, on Saturday 12th September.

Learning from the Bees

We have not given up on the idea of a gathering in person, but under present circumstances, with a flurry of confusing and unpredictable government announcements and mandates maintaining a mood of confusion and uncertainty, we think it best not to make definite plans for meeting in the UK.

All the more happy we are to be collaborating with Free the Bees on an exciting gathering in Switzerland. “Bees without Borders” is envisaged as a “real life” meeting and livestream event, but with sufficient flexibility to be turned into a solely livestream event if circumstances change. The conference will take place on the 21st November 2020 in Fribourg, Switzerland. Further details and tickets are available here.

We are grateful for the opportunity to be involved in offering an event dedicated to a theme so close to our hearts and the Trust’s evolving direction: “Supporting Free Living Bees”.

Documentary film "Être avec les abeilles”

This beautiful labour of love of the French filmmaking team Perrine Bertrand and Yves Grille is completed, and we hope to be able to present it with English subtitles by the end of the year. A dedication to the bees and some of the people who guard them , a declaration of love for the honeybee that involved much travel and thousands of hours of work. We have been happy to support this project and look forward to the release of the English subtitled version.

Here’s a teaser for those of you who have not seen it yet.

Natural Bee Husbandry Magazine

It’s marvellous that the good news about natural bee husbandry in its manifold forms just keep on coming. This magazine has been giving tremendous encouraging and inspiring insights into what’s happening in the ‘holistic beekeeping scene’ for want of a better word in different places round the world, and we are grateful to Editor John Phipps as well as the good folks at Northern Bee Books for their unstinting support.

If you’re not part of NBH’s international readership yet, here’s a link for an annual subscription.


Mick and Adrian - Ready to Make Log Hives

Earlier this year we were happy to support our cherished bee friends Michiel Verspuij from Ireland and Adrian Iodice from Australia to work together in Australia to create new habitats for honeybees in fire-ravaged Australia. It was a tremendous gesture of bee-like selflessness on Michiel’s part to give so freely of his time that is mostly spent on helping Ireland grow into a paradise for free bees. His return to Ireland after a few weeks teaching Adrian and his fellow bee people was enforced by the decisions our governments chose to take to bow to the “recommendations” of the WHO.

Adrian Iodice’s message soon after Michiel’s arrival really made our hearts sing, so we have pleasure sharing it with you:

 "Dear friends at the Trust, letting you know that things are moving along, we started the rehabilitation work with a beautiful ceremony performed by a local Yuin Aboriginal organisation called ‘Back To Country’ the group is led by elder Uncle Max Harrison, 150 fire affected locals came on the day and everyone was smoked as part of the healing process then 200 to 300 seedlings were smoked and about 150 were planted! It was a fantastic day, lots of healing for everyone present and also the land, plants and creatures. Guests were given totem plants and totem animals to take on responsibility for that particular species and part of that responsibility is to take care of that particular creature or plant species for the rest of their life, native and European bees were some of the totems, it’s a great way to have people look after and be aware of the things that live around us!  We intend to perform this important ceremony in many towns up and down the coast.”

It is deeply satisfying when the funds we raise through our efforts and the generosity of friends of the Trust can be put to good use.

Following an extended period of reflection about the challenges we collectively face in today’s much-changed world, we now look forward to working with renewed vigour on our advocacy for the honeybee. New endeavours are taking shape and we will be asking for your interest and participation to bring them to fruition. More about this next time we get in touch, most probably early November.

Thank you as ever for your interest in our work, and the great support we are receiving from so many of you.

The Trustees



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