Rudolf Steiner predicted in 1923 that in about 80 -100 years bees will suffer a major crisis – mainly due to the artificial breeding of queens.
This week, I had the amazing experience of being able to see biodynamic beekeeping at work, and to see the relocation of a bee swarm without artificial breeding of a queen. It led me to look into Steiner’s theories of the great value of bees in nature and his predictions for what would endanger them.
The Goetheanum, the stage where Steiner delivered many of his 15 talks on this topic looms over me while I research and write this article. I can’t help but imagine the people walking up that same hill I have to ask their own questions about the state of bees – the same things I am wanting to know more about, 95 years later.
We have all read countless articles about the fact that over sixty percent of the American honeybee population has died during the past ten years, and that it’s a problem the rest of the world is facing too. It was in response to a community posed question, way back in 1923, that Rudolf Steiner spoke of the crisis bees find themselves in today. He predicted that we would see mechanical forces take over the organic operations of the beehive including the artificial insemination of queen bees. And also introduced the biodynamic methods of bee keeping.
‘The 15 lectures revolved around the topics of the unconscious wisdom of the beehive and its connection to our experience of health, culture, and the cosmos.’ Goetheanum.org
The being of bees – Biodynamic beekeeping
Differences between conventional beekeeping practices and biodynamic beekeeping.
Biodynamic bee keepers:
- Believe natural swarming is the best way to create a new colony. They don’t create artificial swarms, letting the bees only swarm when they choose too. They don’t practice artificial insemination of queen bees or any other practices where the beekeeper interferes with the workings of the bee colony.
- Allow bees build their comb instead of being giving them ‘frames’ with wax foundations. Each colony builds their honeycomb in a unique was so biodynamic beekeepers don’t like to cause the bees to adapt its comb making to an unnatural shape that’s not their own.
- Clipping of queen’s wings is prohibited.
- Regular and systematic queen replacement is prohibited.
- Pollen substitutes are prohibited
- Beehives must be made of all natural materials, such as wood, straw, or clay.
- Artificial insemination is not used. Instead queens are allowed to fly free to mate.
- Grafting of larvae to produce queens is prohibited.
- No pesticides or antibiotics are allowed, although the use of natural organic acids such as formic and oxalic acid may be used for mite control.
- Biodynamically kept bees are given more space, extra space increases honey production.
- • If cold winters call for the need to ‘feed’ the bees so they survive, biodynamic bee keepers will ideally be fed their own honey, or a sugar solution to make it easy for bees to turn this into their own honey.
- Hives are made from straw and glue and chemical free wood with minimal metal hive parts – eg: division trips and wire.
- The relationship between the bees and the beekeeper is vital. Unless a biodynamic beekeeper is overly sensitive to stings most will avoid wearing gloves, preferring skin contact which allows the keeper to be even more gentle with the colony. Bees don’t want to sting as this causes them to die so if a colony is stinging a biodynamic bee keepers they will have to reflect on why and change their actions.
I was not scared for one moment being in the swarm of honey bees. They were super calm, which made me super calm too. It was incredible to watch the relationship between the beekeeper and the bees – they knew there was no threat there. You can see that biodynamic bee keeping methods stay true to their intentions to minimize the stress facing bees and allow them to develop in accordance with how nature intended.
Do you know of any past predictions that are now coming true? I find this fascinating!