Bee Sanctuary – L’abella Lliure

Bee-live together we can solve this!

The whole problem is primarily a moral one.
–- Ehrenfried Pfeiffer

Bees and the pollination they provide are critical to the ecosystem and our food production.

L’abella Lliure is a Community Supported Bee Sanctuary (CSBEES) in the wonderful area of natural interest called Alta Garrotxa near Girona,Catalunya. Our aims is to offer this important and endangerd Keystone species a place of retreat and nourishment to flourish again in its natural habitats.

The honey bee is the first endangered domesticated animal species and it should be a big walk up call for all of us to change our relationship to the life support system that sustains us all!

We are in the pioneering phase of this important project and offer different ways to support us and the bees ! We started with 5 hives and aim to increase the project every year.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ¨ Mahatma Gandhi¨

Bees, in something like their present form, have been around for at least 100 million years. Honeybees may have been with us for around 30 million years, during which time they have evolved into one of the most successful and highly organized social creatures on earth.

Some 84% of the crops grown for human consumption – around 400 different types of plants – need bees and other insects to pollinate them to increase their yields and quality. These include most fruits and vegetables, many nuts, and plants such as rapeseed and sunflowers that are turned into oil, as well as cocoa beans, coffee and tea. Crops grown as fodder for dairy cows and other livestock are also pollinated by bees. And it’s not only food crops that rely on bee pollination, cotton does as well.

 

 

Pictures from our first 5 Hives which arrived at the Sanctuary in Spring 2017:

 

What we only experience when love arises in our hearts is to be found, as it were, in the whole bee-hive as substance. The whole hive is in reality permeated with love. The individual bees renounce love in manifold ways, and thus develop love throughout the whole hive. One only begins to understand the life of the bees when one knows that the bee lives in an atmosphere completely pervaded by love. by Rudolf Steiner

 

Some wild winter flowers at the site of the Bee Sanctuary in late autumn:

some Pictures of the natural surroundings of the Sanctuary:

 

The bee’s life is like a magic well: the more you draw from it, the more it fills with water
–Karl von Frisch

a short clip of one of our hives in action:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the bees poor health we still put the blame on bacteria,viruses and mites,rather then looking at the exploitative and unsustainable conventional bee keeping practices ! Its time to change the paradigm of the last 100 years and ask the honey bees how can we serve you? We can look at the honey bee colony as a whole Organism,we can listen to the hive and relate to them in a respectful way! This is what we call REGENERATIVE BEEKEEPING which follows a bee-centric approach and changes our attitude towards one of how can i be of service to the honey bees. We believe our attitude while interacting with our bees should be one of:

  • RESPECT
  • DEDICATION
  • LOVE
  • GRATITUDE

Some corner stones of this practice are:

– working with natural queens that are not produced by queen crafting but by the natural instinct of bees to swarm
– allow the Bees build natural and clean Comb
– allow swarming instinct and swarming as its also has an important effect in terms of hygiene and pathogen numbers as well as its
the best way to increase your bee colonies.
– no usage of queen excluder
– only harvesting of the true surplus honey after the bees have overwintered on their own honey
– no chemical sprays to treat bacteria,fungus or mites
– biological agriculture and natural vegetation cover in the flight radius of 2 kilometers the bees ( this nowadays is almost
impossible in most areas of the world so the aim is to have at least 50% biological agriculture in the surrounding area)
– appropriate density of hives and bee colonies in any given area
– providing proper housing for the bees in a non chemically polluted environment. Enable better Insulation and Ventilation.
– no feeding of sugar water as it is a strain,exhausting,depleting and nutritionally depriving activity for the bees to convert
mineralized sugar.
– supporting the natural movement during the year of the bee colony which is a downward to upward movement during the cycle
of one year. Think of a wild colony in a hollow tree – they will build comb from the top and could have lots of space below them
which they will fill over subsequent seasons as their comb grows downwards.

from: http://beecentrichive.com/warre-hive/

 

Contrary to popular beekeeping mythology and practice, honeybees build down. To test this, look no further than a natural colony. When a swarm finds a new home the first thing it does is build comb down from the highest point. The bees continue this process as long as there they’re still finding nectar and pollen. As they extend the comb downwards, the queen and brood move with them. This provides room above the brood nest to store honey. The result is a column of expanding honey with brood at its base.In the winter, this process is reversed as bees consume their way upwards. While they build comb from top-down, they consume it bottom-up. The effect is that an over-wintering hive will cluster together and rise with the heat (consuming honey as they go).
To work with this natural behaviour, Warres Hives are typically added to from the bottom (a process called nadiring). A Warre beekeeper starts with one box then adds another to the bottom once the first is almost full. This process continues until the honey flow slows down in the fall. Besides working with the bees natural behaviour, this process removes the need for a queen excluder. Just add empty boxes to the bottom of the hive and harvest full boxes of honey from the top. It’s a never ending tree-trunk conveyer belt of honey.

 

In the future we also want to experiment with the Sun hive. The “Sun Hive“, designed by German sculptor Guenther Muncke is a combination of skep weaving and circular inner wooden frame. The inspiration for the hive design came from observing a wild bee’s nest in a forest near his home, with it’s combs covered in a protective layer of propolis and wax.

 

 

We recommend also you to have a look at this video from Mr.Guillaume who is one of our inspirations and mentors:

Also the Bee lectures from Rudolf Steiner are a huge inspiration and offer many viable solutions to the current bee crisis:

http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA351/English/SGP1975/NinBee_index.html

 

In the words of Gunther Hauk, one of the leading beekeepers on this planet and the author of “Towards saving the Honeybee” which provides a roadmap towards saving our Honey bees :

  • provide a comfortable home made of natural materials(no plastic and if possible no metal in the comb)
  • respect the swarm-instinct as much as possible
  • raise natural queens,in queen cells from day one
  • allow only the best sources of nourishment: honey and pollen
  • permit the autonomous creation of honeycomb to a great degree
  • permit the colony to have as many drones as it wants and needs
  • keep the hive warm and draft-free
  • respect the colony as an organism rather the view it as a mechanism with exchangeable parts
  • provide an environment free of pesticides,insecticides,and fungicides

 

 

One must say that the life of the bees must be studied by making use of the soul.
–Rudolf Steiner

 

Written in the Rain by Hilde Domin:

If we were bees
who can feel the sun
through the cloudy sky
who find their way
to the blossom
and never lose direction,
our fields would be forever
shining
however short our life
we would seldom cry.

 

“Der Bienenfreund” by Hans Thoma