Contents and Preface of The Bee-friendly Beekeeper

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A bid for freedom?

Controlled swarming

Balancing interests


1. Keeping bees sustainably – fundamentals

2. Fundamental attitudes of beekeepers – ethics in beekeeping

Agricultural and environmental ethics applied to beekeeping

The dominator

The steward

The partner

The participant

The ethical matrix

3. Shelter

Thermal and hygrological issues – 1. Comb support

Thermal and hygrological issues – 2. Covering the nest



Nest cover

Cold climates

Thermal and hygrological issues – 3. the hive body



Wall thickness

Box internal footprint



Thermal and hygrological issues – 4. The floor and entrance

4. Comb

Drone cells

Worker cells

Comb spacing

Orientation of comb

Comb age

Role of natural comb in colony communication

5. Seclusion

Non-intervention surveillance

Inspecting for disease

Unintended disturbances

African bees and absconding

6. Sustenance


Colony density in the landscape


7. Diseases and pests




8. Breeding

Artificial queen breeding

In situ breeding with the whole colony

Artificial swarming

Natural swarming

9. The People's Hive of Abbé Émile Warré




Apiary site

Use of smoke

Hiving bees


Monitoring progress

Harvesting honey

Extracting honey

Rendering wax


Varroa control


Later years

10. Warré hive modifications and modern management tips

Floor and entrance


Top-bars and spales


The People's Hive with frames

Roger Delon's frame

Gilles Denis' semi-frame

Top-bar cloth, quilt and roof


Removing combs on top-bars

Intensely melliferous localities

Appendix 1 Thermal conductivities of hive materials

Appendix 2 Plans for constructing a Warré hive – The People's Hive

Appendix 3 Plans for constructing a Warré hive lift

Appendix 4 A selection of Internet resources








This book arose from a series of articles in The Beekeepers Quarterly in 2007/8 and resulting suggestions from several people that I republish that material in book form. With the scope that this format has offered, I have revised and greatly extended what appeared in the articles, including, where appropriate, the latest scientific evidence behind some of the views expressed.

Like the articles, this book is intended primarily for beekeepers and would-be beekeepers. A basic knowledge of the life cycle of the honey bee is assumed, as well as some familiarity with elementary beekeeping. This allows me to avoid filling the book with information which is readily available and often thoroughly covered in beekeeping and bee biology publications elsewhere, including the Internet.

Least of all is this book intended to be a manual on beekeeping, although a couple of chapters are devoted to the basics of making and running a simple hive – Émile Warré's 'People's Hive' described in his book Beekeeping for All – as one practical example of a possible start on the road to sustainable beekeeping that the author has thoroughly tested.

If the reader requires some advice on where to look for background reading then, for bee biology and behaviour, I suggest Jürgen Tautz's The Buzz About Bees (2008). It is superbly illustrated and includes new findings about the natural history of honey bees that may surprise even a few adept beekeepers. Some of these findings are particularly helpful towards designing a bee-appropriate beekeeping.

For a good, recent basic book on beekeeping, which also includes a phenomenological presentation of bee colony development, I recommend Michael Weiler's Bees and Honey from Flower to Jar (2006). His book also briefly presents Demeter beekeeping according to biodynamic husbandry, which has a more than 80-year history and involves a way of keeping bees that better respects the nature of the bee.

I refer extensively to material that is available free on the Internet. Some sub-topics on the sustainable beekeeping methods presented here are covered in more illustrated detail on web pages and thus have the advantage that they can be added to relatively easily. The net also offers a number of fora and email e-groups which can be very helpful for novices looking for support when starting beekeeping; these help people to keep in touch with new discoveries in apiology as well as to exchange views on keeping bees in a really bee-friendly way.


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