Why is Commercial Beekeeping Bad for Bees?

Commercial beekeepers view beekeeping as a means of production only. Their only concern is to get the bees to produce as much honey as possible, without a thought for the bees’ health or comfort. To the detriment of the bee population, commercial beehives are designed with this goal in mind.

So, just what’s so bad about commercial beekeeping? Here are just 4 reasons these practices are bad for the bees.

1. They don’t allow the bees to eat honey—Commercial beekeepers harvest all the honey –the bees’ main winter food source– in the fall and feed the bees sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (whatever happens to be cheaper) until the spring nectar flows.

Why is this bad for the bees? When the bees aren’t allowed to feed on their own honey, they weaken and become more susceptible to disease and mites. This has led to a major decline in the honey bee population, and it could cause serious horticultural and economic affects worldwide.

What’s the alternative? The Homestead Hive philosophy allows the bees to feed on their own honey. This ensures the bees are properly fed, reducing their risk for disease, and it allows the beekeeper to harvest the surplus honey for their own use. In short, both you and the bees will get plenty of honey with our hive.

2. Exposes the bees to pesticides—Commercial beekeepers allow the bees to forage on crops that have been sprayed with pesticides. The bees transport these pesticides and harmful chemicals back to the commercial hive. Over time, the pesticide levels in the hive build up until they reach a critically-toxic level that kills off the entire colony.
What’s the alternative? The Homestead Hive allows you to take a more natural approach to beekeeping. Bees are kept in a healthier, more stable environment where they can safely collect pollen and nectar. If you are keeping bees where you suspect that pesticides are being used, with the homestead hive, you can simply remove a percentage of the comb each year, to keep the toxicity down.

3. Forces the bees to build larger brood cells—Commercial beehives dictate the size of the cells that the bee makes to lay their brood. This forces the bees to create a larger brood than they would naturally make on their own.
As a result, it takes the bees a day longer to cap the brood. This gives the mites time to come into the brood, laying eggs in the same cell before it is capped off. Bees affected by mites typically have much a shorter lifespan, and they can be weakened and deformed. This leads to lower production from the brood and eventually to the collapse of the entire colony.
Because of this practice, the bee population has experienced a serious decline recently. This has devastated the entire bee industry, and the problem will only worsen unless commercial beekeepers change their ways.

What’s the alternative? The Homestead Hive is designed to let the bees determine the cell size on their own. This lets the bees build the brood cell quicker, preventing mites from coming in and damaging the colony.

4. Creates an unhealthy environment for the bees—The commercial hive is designed for the ease of the beekeeper and not necessarily for the health of the bees. Commercial beehives are:

Designed to fit on pallets loaded on trucks to be shipped around the country for pollination services. This stresses and weakens the bees, leading to lower production and declined health of the colony.

Built with thin boxes, allowing more fluctuation in temperature and humidity. This forces the bees to change the temperature and humidity by ventilating the hive with the flapping of their wings. As a result, the bees waste a lot of their energy and produce less honey.

Disruptive to the bees, forcing the beekeeper to break the brood cluster in half when checking on the hive. This creates havoc in the hive, increasing the beekeeper’s chance of getting stung.

What’s the alternative? The Homestead Hive is a unique design that creates a hollow log-environment, stabilizing the temperature and humidity inside the hive. This allows the bees to conserve energy, so they can stay strong and produce more honey.

The Homestead Hive also has floating ends that allow the beekeeper to access the colony from either end without disturbing the bees.

Do you have any experience with commercial beehives? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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14 Responses to “Why is Commercial Beekeeping Bad for Bees?”

  1. Kent Lee Ivey says:

    Would like to know more… what are dimensions of the frames?
    would I have to retool my extractor?

  2. beemin says:

    Hi Kent,

    The frames in the supper are standard shallows that will work fine in an extractor.

    James

  3. Don Beaver says:

    I am very interested in you hive and have a few questions. How would you control the small hive beetle in your hive? Do you use any screen bottom to help ventilate the hive?
    Thanks Don

  4. beemin says:

    Hi Don,

    I do not deal with the small hive beetle here. I don’t know if it is regional or the way I keep bees. My philosophical view is that you create an environment for the bees to flourish, and they can usually keep intruders out of the hive. Weak colonies attract intruders.
    The hive is well ventilated through the entrance and some vents I have in the top bars in the back of the hive, however I do offer a screen bottom board for those wanting them.

    Thanks, James

  5. Donna says:

    Do you have any suggestions on where to get bees? How many would you start a new hive with?
    I’ve wanted to have a hive “forever” and just never got around to it.
    Thanks,
    Donna

  6. beemin says:

    Hi Donna,

    I can recommend http://wolfcreekapiaries4-9bees.com/index.html for a 3 lb package of natural size bees.

    What is keeping you from making the leap? I will make you and any other readers a deal. If you buy one of my hives, I will give you my home number and email address for unlimited support.

    James

  7. Virgil says:

    You are claiming to have created a hive that is naturally effective in removing the problems that require high maintenance in beekeeping. What do I have other than your word for it do I have? Can I visit you apiary to see for myself your success? I want to pickup beekeeping again but don’t have 5+ times a year to work at maintaining a hive to have it die out on me.

  8. beemin says:

    Yes you may visit my apiary anytime. Also I would encourage anyone to visit http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm for very simple no nonsense advise on beekeeping. He has much more experience as a commercial beekeeper than I do as a hobbyist.
    My basic philosophy is to stop manipulating the bees with drugs and non conducive equipment. Let the bees do things their way, and if they are successful you can sneak a little honey at times.
    There is no guarantee with nature. You will still lose colonies, however work with and make splits from the strong hives, and let the week ones die off.

  9. Great post. I totally agree that commercial beekeeping pushes the bees much too hard. It is all geared towards what is good for the beekeeper, with no regard to what is good for the bees – and the result is the massive losses in bees that we have seen over this last few years. Natural beekeeping has to be the right way to go, working with nature, not against it.

  10. Eric says:

    Interested in beekeeping. I’m a novice (green-horn) to all of this. Can I do this in my backyard?? I live in NE Kansas in a small town (3000 population); I do have access to a rural location, but I would like to have this in my backyard, if possible. What are the overall dimension of the Homestead Hive? Thanks for answers.

  11. beemin says:

    Eric,

    I’m in south west MO in a town of 2000. You are welcome to visit my bee yard, and get oriented in beekeeping.
    My system is designed for ease of use, and you can learn more about the bees as you observe them as they work.
    I also offer unlimited phone support with the purchase of the hive, and I will walk you through the process.
    Yes you can keep bees in town. I think it is always a great idea to give some honey to your neighbors. Keeps them sweet (so to speak:)
    The hive is 18″ wide and 48″ long.

    James

    Thanks, James

  12. Mark says:

    I read that bees don’t care for alot of wind and rain. I live on a barrier island in Northern MA. This winter past, one of the storms we had blew 90mph gusts of wind, even in the summer we have alot of strong gusts I have been looking at beehives for the past couple of months, and yours looks like it would survive a harsh New England. What is the weight of your hive and do you think I could keep bees this close to the ocean or should I look around for a local farm that might let me keep my hive there? Win win situation…I get to keep my bees and they get the benifit of an increased yield.

  13. Here’s a comment. Great advice =) Thanks

  14. disney plush says:

    Very good article I enjoy your website keep up the great blog posts

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