The buzz about bees

The buzz about bees

For a few years now, Friends of the Earth Malta has been organising the BeeAware course, a collection of lectures and practical sessions aimed at providing aspiring beekeepers and those interested to learn more about bees and pollinators with practical information, scientific background and knowledge from local beekeepers with years of experience.
We believe in supporting local apiculture and building a bigger community of beekeepers, because their work supports the survival of bee colonies in general, and the endemic bee species, Apis mellifera ruttneri, in particular. Bee numbers have been dwindling globally and are threatened by a number of causes; pests and diseases, lack of food sources, pesticides, climate change, habitat loss and changing farming practices. At the same time, we rely on bees for the pollination of our food sources: over 80% of crops and wild plants require the help of pollinators to reproduce and form fruit.
Recently we received some negative comments from the vegan community about our support and encouragement of local apiculture. We would like to take this opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings about bees and beekeeping, such as that through supporting local apiculture we are “stealing the bees’ honey”, or that the beekeepers we support are feeding them sugar syrup to be able to extract more honey.
Our campaign is designed to raise awareness on the importance of honey bees, and how they play a vital role in the ecosystem. We are supporting natural beekeeping and small-scale local apiculture, not large commercial enterprises. The bees in the hives are provided with wax foundation, which reduces their need to produce comb from scratch. The honey we harvest is surplus honey; the beekeeper will always make sure there is enough for the colony to survive and we do not feed bees sugar syrup in order to extract more honey. Supplement feeding  with sugar is however sometimes done to support the bees during times when limited nectar is available. The scope of our work is not honey extraction, but to increase the number of bee colonies. Without beekeepers the bee population will continue to dwindle. In his book ‘The Bee-Master of Warrilow’, Tickner Edwardes (1907) states that “they call us bee-masters, but bee servants would be a better word; we must study to find out what the bees intend to do, and then help them to do it“. We believe keeping bee hives and supporting local apiculture is vital to protect this species, our environment and our food production.
Through our work we support and promote a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle; we are organizing a number of vegan cooking workshops for example. We do not wish to alienate anyone through our campaigns, instead we believe we need to work together towards better protection of our environment. We hope that through continued dialogue we can better understand each other’s viewpoints, so that we can work towards a common goal.
If you have any further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us on bees@foemalta.org
If would like to express your interest in a future beekeeping course, you can sign up here. If you would like to support our work to protect and promote the local bee population, you can sponsor a bee hive in our apiary. In return you will receive a BeeCause kit, updates from the hive, and a jar of honey, subject to a successful harvest, and only if you wish to receive one 🙂