For us, beekeeping is about giving back. Humans have been partaking of the products of the hive for far longer than we have been engaged in agriculture. But like agriculture of today, modern beekeeping seeks to safeguard the future of the allies we need for survival. In their daily work, honeybees tend the flowers across the landscape. In many locations, especially urban and suburban, but even in many rural locations, there is no longer enough suitable habitat to support the natural density of honeybees and other pollinators required to ensure pollination of plants responsible for important sources of food for other creatures of nature, thus without our assistance, individual flowers and flowering trees and shrubs fail to reproduce.
Beekeeping is about self reliance. It’s about being directly involved in the natural cycles around you. There is no mediary; you experience the abundance and you experience the dearth right alongside all the other creatures of the landscape. When the season is good and the timing is right, a wonderful suite of healing substances are shared with the beekeeper. It is analogous to the most gentle forms of farming, such as permaculture and dry land rotational cropping. As a gardener or farmer, beekeeping is also about taking steps to ensure your hard efforts pay off in the form of robust healthy crops of superior fruit. Having hives near fruit trees in inclement weather filled springs can be the difference between having a crop or not.
For generations, beekeepers around the world have been a part of the agrarian landscape that fed the people, and thereby actively worked against the modern industrial model that threatened rural independence. Beekeepers have traditionally been organically minded when caring for their bees and have always been at the forefront of efforts to limit or ban the use of dangerous chemicals in agriculture. But in the 1980’s around the world, a new threat to the bees spread like fire. Varroa mite, introduced from east Asia, became the most lethal parasite for honeybees, and has been ever since. Despite 40 years of intensive research around the world, Varroa mite is still the largest source of colony mortality. Since their introduction, a sad thing has occurred, beekeepers, especially American beekeepers, have become dependent upon the chemical industry to maintain their colonies with mite counts below the lethal level.
The good news is that, for 40 years around the world, hard working people have been dedicated to the development of modern organic management methods, and a way forward is beginning to emerge. When one combines a suitable hive in a good location, and sound colony management methods, with a well adapted locally-reared colony of honeybees, it is now an attainable and rewarding endeavor to succeed as an organic backyard beekeeper.
At Diggin Livin, it has been our mission since inception to develop and disseminate a suite of tools to assist today’s organic beekeeper in achieving success. It is our hope that as more beekeepers share alternative methods of rearing honeybees free of chemical inputs, it will create a fabric of hardy bees that are actively stewarded toward health, and thus diminish the threat to other honeybees nearby. The choice of equipment is tantamount in determining your success as a beekeeper. When talking about the vessel that will house creatures involved in the production of the finest healing foods, quality construction, from premium natural materials is clearly the only way. Furthermore, our hives are designed with the bees well-beeing in mind. The dimensions of our hive and warm and dry qualities of the materials used, provides colonies with the ideal environment for them to thrive in a broad range of conditions. Our hives are both versatile and powerful. We make equipment that serves the beekeeper in multiple functions, so it dramatically reduces the total equipment needs throughout the year. Our hives are well suited to either traditional Langstroth-style beekeeping, or can be used in a fashion known to us as Natural Nest beekeeping, where the brood chamber is composed of a vertically oriented top bar arrangement, offering the bees a variably sized broodnest of their creation. Furthermore, the two-way functionality of our hives allows for in-hive queen-rearing and the introduction of well-timed breaks in the reproductive cycle of the colony, known to be the most effective natural method to reduce mite levels. In short, with our equipment on your side, keeping bees successfully has never been easier.