Every beekeeper has his own ideas about natural beekeeping. The most important thing is to observe, love and respect the bees and nature. Bees are very well able to sustain themselves in normal circumstances.
The normal living conditions of the bee have been influenced by humans over the years. The disappearance of flowering meadows and hedges between the fields, the cutting down of forests, excessive mowing of verges, monoculture in agriculture and the use of pesticides and herbicides.
The disappearance of natural barriers has brought one of the bees enemies closer: "The Varroa Mite". There are many products on the market to control the Varroa mite and unfortunately, the mite keeps coming back into the hives.
Combating the Varroa mite in a biological way is part of natural beekeeping.
The choice of beehive and leaving honey in the hive as winter food.
If you talk about natural - and bee-friendly beekeeping you follow a guideline for yourself in which you can find yourself. The well-being of the bee always comes first. It does not mean that other methods of beekeeping are wrong. This is just the way that feels right for me.
Below is my perspective on beekeeping.
What is not possible in my view?
• remove the entire food supply
• supplementary feeding with sugar solutions
• squeezing queens to death
• cutting wings
• cut out drone blood
• ready made frames with wax
• fight Varroa with acid
• use chemical agents
• open beehives frequently
What is desirable?
• leave 20 kilos of spring honey in the hive as winter food
• If you do have to add extra food use their own honey
• let bees build their own comb
• 1 or 2 Favus windows can be used at startup
• natural control of varroa with the predatory mite
• do not open the hive, check with viewport windows
Fighting the varroa mite
Usually the Varroa mite is attacked with chemical products or with the evaporation of oxalic acid or the introduction of formic acid. There is also the biotechnical method, i.e. the cutting out of drone brood. In my opinion, this method is completely at odds with life inside the hive.
When I then see what the beekeeper has to do to protect himself from the adverse effects of using these products (suit, gloves, goggles, mask, etc.) I wonder what the consequences are for the bees and the honey. They have no protection against these products and a very sensitive and complex respiratory system. It is a fact that the Varroa mite must be fought otherwise it will turn out to be an even greater disaster for the bees and it can be done differently.
The Varroa mite is very easy to control in a natural and e.g. friendly way by using an indigenous predatory mite: the Strateolealaps Scimitus.
If you want to apply this method efficiently, first study the life of both the predatory mite and the Varroa mite.
What is a predatory mite?
The Stratiolaelaps Scimitus is a bottom predatory mite. This predatory mite targets a wide range of insects and is widely used in horticulture and is also useful as a natural enemy of the Varroa mite. The adult Stratiolaelaps Scimitus is a light brown-beige predatory mite and about 0.8 - 1 mm in size, the appearance of the predatory mite is about the same in all stages of its life. The nymphs (the young predatory mite) are white in colour. This predatory mite occurs naturally in large parts of Europe and is a bottom predatory mite. This means that it lives in the top layer of soil up to 4 cm deep and can move quickly through and over the soil. This predatory mite feels at home in moist soil, which is important for good development and control. The Stratiolaelaps Scimitus thrives best at a soil humidity of about 30% where it can absorb moisture through the hair on its back.
More information about this mite can be found on the website of Biobestrijding.
Life cycle of the Predatory Mite?
An adult predatory mite lives an average of 6 weeks and is active at temperatures ranging from 10°C to 30°C. A population of this predatory mite consists of both males and females. When there is enough to eat the females lay eggs frequently, the eggs are oval shaped. The eggs hatch within 2-3 days and the young predatory mite nymphs are born. The nymphs develop into an adult predatory mite in about 5 to 6 days. The young nymphs are immediately after birth fierce predators that consume eggs and small larvae of various insects. An adult Stratiolaelaps Scimitus can consume up to 5 preys per day.