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.”
“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:
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.
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.
Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.
She lives in Donegal, Ireland – an area of outstanding natural beauty