Few years ago we met on internet media – mainly on bee-forums and beekeeping groups. We found that many of our goals are alike. We started to speak and write about things that were controversial, not convenient to many beekeepers, and sometimes even outrageous. This sometimes ment to break standards. We stressed that constant usage of chemical substances is a way to nowhere. We promoted a different way of looking on the problem of bee health. We started to talk about establishing a group, an association. But when you build something and do not exactly know what will future bring, you have to be open to different possibilities. That was exactly what happened in the years 2014 and 2015. So some of us, among others, established Natural Beekeeping Association „Free Bees”. We believe that we did an extraordinary job there (You can read about some of it here: http://wolnepszczoly.org/about-us/). In that time we knew that we want to keep bees without using chemical substances, and we believed that establishing an association may help us because our voice would be louder and recognized better. When we started our initiative, treatment free beekeeping in Poland was only in its infant state, and very few beekeepers had tried earlier or had their first attempts to keep bees off treatments. The rules of the association could not be very strict – so we all could fit in. In time some new members joined the association – everyone with slightly different view of her or his apiary, but with awareness that somewhere, sometime keeping bees turned from the ways of Nature, and become the part industrial agriculture. Today we are few years after this moment. We now know for sure, that while working close together we can keep our bees without treatments, although in the first stage of selection we cannot have satisfactory economical effects, and we might have to face big losses. We are still on the begining of this road and no one can tell for sure how our apiaries will look like in two, three or five years. But after big losses (total in some apiaries), thanks to the help of others, everybody who wanted could have rebuilt hers or his apiary using genetics of bees that were treated last time in the Autumn of 2014. And this genetics was spread in our apiaries, and is still being expanded and developed by us in the ways of natural selection. Even if we would have more losses in the future – and we hope they would be smaller and rarer – we know for sure, that we can do it again. The conditions are: close cooperation, openness, reciprocal help – but also persistance, consequence, patience and determination.
Today, after years of cooperation, we know more about what we expect from our organization, and what kind of partnership is most valuable for us. We are smarter having our experiences. As we believe, after some years „Free Bees” Association decided to propagate „cautious” or „conservative” natural beekeeping, which means keeping bees with some biocidal substances, and even encourages some beginer beekeepers to use them. Therefore we decided to go further, and establish new organization: „Bee Brotherhood” („Bractwo Pszczele”). We want our new organization to base on people who decided to persist with keeping bees off treatments – including pesticides and „natural” biocidal substances. We decided to underline and stress our beekeeping identity, as people who do not want to help any side of the arm race between honey bees (Apis mellifera) and varroa mite (Varroa destructor) in the process of selection. Of course, with all our hearts, we keep our fingers crossed for all the bees in this “battle”. But we believe that any interference in this arm race leading to balanced „host-parasite” relationship, will not be beneficial for the bees in the long term. In our best understanding, for the benefit of bees, we do not want to help them with any means that will interfere in this relation. We believe that this is the best long term way for all of the beekeepers. Because healthy bees mean healty beekeeping. Because bees off treatments mean clean and healty products and bees capable of living independently in nature. We want to help our bees, but not by pouring toxins into the hives, but by creating them the best conditions to live that will benefit their health. And that kind of beekeeping we want to promote. By all of this, we do not want to cut ourselves away from being beekeepers. We do not want to look passively – even though it is enough for many people. We want to have our apiaries and have everyday contact with the bees and harvest their products. We just wish our relation with the bees to be balanced in a way that will serve their well-being (unfortunately, this sometimes means harm to specific bee colonies in the process of natural selection) and our purposes.
After some years of our work, some beekeepers started to look at our perspective as a valid voice in the discussion about bee health. Also thanks to our work. In the same time our group „Free Bees”, which some of us build very activly, grew in different approaches. Some beekeepers turned to „natural” biocidal substances, and look at treatment free beekeeping as an undetermined future. We want to keep bees off treatments today and not in ten or twenty years. We are fully aware that in the first years of natural selection it may be very hard if not impossible to have succesful and profitable apiary. We are sure that in our Polish conditions it must take at least couple of „collapse and recovery” cycles that Kirk Webster was writting about. But we should seek the balance without chemical substances, because simply they are harmful for the bees. And we believe that we should clearly stand for this way and we should promote it.
Today we feel that we can better achieve our goals with new organization: „Bee Brotherhood”. It will closer represent our views, opinions and objectives. We hope to fulfill Your expectances, too.
We are aware (and You should be) that the way we promote is not an easy one. We warn You, that it may lead to big losses and lower productiveness – especially in the first years. But You do not have to follow this bumpy road. Whatever You do in Your apiary is Your choice. We have chosen our ways. Please respect it, follow our progres and keep Your fingers crossed for us!