At the end of our wild beehive-making workshop, at UWNR last Saturday, someone described Matt Somerville as a revolutionary – I think this fits! Matt is turning the honeybee-keeping world on its head, in the best possible way, forcing us to re-think how we see these creatures.
Modern commercial bee keeping exploits this species, extracting honey for our consumption, with dire consequences. Our harvesting interferes with too many of the bee’s natural processes & needs – some examples;
Life giving & sustaining honey is extracted and replaced with sugar and soy solution - this replacement is seriously sub-optimal
Hives are built to enable honey to be easily extracted, but the design places stress on the bee - they lack insulation and are configured with internal panels, which runs counter to their wild & natural hive design
Swarming, which is a natural part of the bee life cycle, is suppressed
Queens are killed and replaced before they live out their natural lives
Hives are placed in close proximity to each other - doing this enables the spread of disease
Modern commercial bee keeping is akin to modern dairy farming – exploitative, with not enough regard for the well being of the animal.
Matt’s hives and his overall approach, redresses these issues – bees are treated as wild animals. In the wild honeybees naturally home in hollow trees and these hives replicate this. And the honey is theirs, not ours. There is 1 species of honeybee in all of Europe and Africa, and these wild hives may help this lone species survive & thrive. A hands-on revolutionary leading a revolution!
These pics show us at work making 7 new log hives, which will be placed in Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset…