Supporting Natural Honeybees at Cluain na dTor Gardens

Bee populations are declining around the globe due to increasing loss of wild habitats, hunger from a decline in wild flowers, pests and diseases…

Conservation and Rewilding

I recently attended a one day workshop on the conservation and rewilding of natural honeybees, at Cluain na dTor Seaside Nursery and Gardens.

The workshop was led by Mick Verspuij of “Boomtreebees” whose mission is:

“to help with the conservation and rewilding of the honeybee. By offering workshops on site, in schools and other venues we aim to educate the public on a more sustainable way of beekeeping/ conservation.”

He says:

“It soon became apparent to me that conventional beekeeping is more focussed on honey production and is less concerned with what the bees require to live a healthy, natural life. I began to research and found that there were more wholesome ways of beekeeping which in turn led me to explore how bees live in the wild. Given the increasing loss of wild habitats I looked at ways to mimic their natural nesting sites in cavities in trees.”

The Differences between Natural Beekeeping and Conventional Beekeeping

Natural Beekeeping                                             Conventional Beekeeping

Honey is not Harvested                                          Honey is harvested

Natural combs                                                          Foundation combs

No disturbance                                                         Regular inspections

No chemicals                                                            Chemicals may be used

No feeds                                                                     Feeding of sugar syrups


Honey Combs inside a Natural Honeybee Hive

Ideal Hive Conditions for Honeybees

Research suggests the following are ideal conditions for natural homes for honeybees:

Location at 4-6 metres above ground,

40-60 litres of volume,

Entrance low down in cavity,

Entrance facing south/southeast to warm up the hive in morning,

Entrance 10-12 square cm.

Honeybees will make homes in the hollows of trees, but we can assist them by creating ready made natural hives.

Creating a Honeybee Hive from Fallen Wood

The following slideshow shows the first steps in creating a natural honeybee hive from a length of fallen wood:


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once the inside has been completed:

  • A router is used to create a little ledge for a wooden cap that will fit snugly into the top
  • A cap is added to the top made from hazel branches and rushes, topped off with tin
  • An entrance is created on the side
  • A wooden base seals the bottom.

IMG_7314     The Roof of a Natural Honeybee Hive

Natural Hives for Sale

Mick has a number of natural hives for sale.

They include Tree Conservation Hives which “most closely mimics a natural nesting site as it can be placed 4 to 6 metres up in a tree. The conservation log hive has a cavity with a diameter of 10″ – 12″ wide and a volume of 40 to 50 litres. It has a removable floor for inspection. An insulated felt roof protects the top of the hive. It comes with heavy duty adjustable straps for securing it to the tree.”

He also makes Elevated Conservation Hives, Observation Log hives and Standing Log Hives.


Learn More about Boomtreebees

“Boomtreebees is based in Buncrana, which is located on the stunning Inishowen Peninsula beside the shores of Lough Swilly.


Cluain na dTor Gardens

Cluain na dTor Gardens are well worth a visit, and are included in The Donegal Garden Trail.

I posted Cluain na dTor – Meadow of Shrubs back in July 2017. You can find out more about their seaside nursery, gardens and workshops at


  1. Brigid that would have been really interesting day. Love fresh honey and I enjoyed growing many bee loving plants when we had land to do so. Here’s to the bee population becoming healthier.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Brigid that had to be such a wonderful workshop. It is so great they are teaching and promoting the rewilding of bees. Boomtreebees sounds like such a brilliant company. I enjoyed reading this so much. 💖🌻🐝

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Its a sad reflection on humanity that we need to supply man-made bird boxes, bug hitels and now bee hives, but I’m so glad the struggling pollinator population are at least getting this help. Such attractive additions to a garden too! Thanks for sharing 🙂 H

    Liked by 5 people

  4. This is so interesting thank you for sharing the vital importance of how to keep healthy bees naturally. No wonder some honey tastes of sugar rather than honey if they are feeding the bees on sugar water. Far better they gather their own nectar from the right plants. Bless you. Nanette

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brigid, a fascinating post and a new approach (to me) of trying to help the bee population. It makes sense to mimic the way the bees live in the wild and Mick is obviously very passionate about this topic. Is is suggested that this is something one has in the garden? Thank you so much for sharing your day out and if I ever come to Donegal, I’ll make sure to go on its Garden Trail! 😀🌺🌼

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Annika. These natural hives can be placed a few metres up in trees or standing. There are also natural hives with viewing chambers for schools. I learned a lot about the different tasks each type of bee fulfils. They are incredibly organised. The Garden Trail is a delight Annika.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My sister would be considered a natural beekeeper. I’ve had her honey (clover honey) and it is astoundingly better than store-bought. Unhappily, she lost the swarms from all three of her hives over the winter and now must start over. Sigh.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s awful the way nature is struggling while humanity is busy building more concrete jungles. Every little helps with raising awareness of the need to help the bees and to do little things to support them. I love the idea of making your own hive & you’ve shared some great tips! 🙂
    Caz x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Caz. Hopefully, it is not too late to wake up and make positive changes for Nature. Mick is making a tremendous effort to educate others and increase the wild bee population. I hope many more people follow his example. x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful share. I really am quiet clueless on. this. But it logical, take care of the bees. I would have assumed that was the case. It is always profit over sustaining. And it is a bit disrespectful to the bee.

    I am a bit scared of bees and wasps got stung as achild.

    Great eye opening share. Great photos too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is so interesting Brigid!
    Here in Australia we have a very healthy native bee population. They’re beeing 😉 used to repopulate areas of the world that have lost their bees…especially in pollination of food crops.
    Will you be putting one of these amazing Natural Bee hives in your lovely garden Brigid?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jennifer. Yes, I am so glad that you have a healthy native bee population. It is so different here in Ireland and elsewhere. Sadly, I cannot put one in my garden as it is too small and I have lots of near neighbours but my sister’s partner has been training in beekeeping and when he gets hives I can go and help him.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello, Brigid! The decline of bees is concerning. Thank you for doing your share. I’m going to try and find a place that makes those here. Thanks for sharing your day at Cluain na dTor Gardens. 😀 xo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. HI Brigid, I am fine thank you for asking. I have had lots of computer problems and not being very tech’ minded I have to rely on a very busy son to help me. I have an upgrade on my pc and it has set me back rather a lot. I can’t even access my blog but suddenly my old defunct blog has reared it’s head. I will sort it out eventually. I am loving reading blogs and commenting so all is not lost in my blogland. I always love seeing your name on my email list, you lead such an interesting life and the things that interest you mean a lot to me too. I hope you are keeping well and looking forward to some lovely spring and summer weather whilst we head into autumn winter. XX

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you are staying in touch Barb. I miss so many of my blogging friends who have stopped blogging. I am keeping well but rather tired at the moment. Hoping to fit in a break with my sister soon. xx


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