Pandemic-inspired Beekeeping

Beekeeping styles differ greatly. Paul Sheppard, an admin of Facebook’s Natural and Regenerative Beekeeping group with well over 2K members observed that different beekeeping styles exist between 2 extremes: Wild bees/feral colonies are on one end of the pendulum swing and conventional commercial-style beekeeping is on the opposite end. 

Video shows a slightly modified Paul’s original hand-drawn diagram to discuss just 4 common beekeeping styles and later – how Covid-19 pandemic inspired us to start ForestBeehive apiary.   

Natural beekeeping vs. treatment-free, organic, etc. beekeeping.

On the far left of the pendulum diagram are the wild/feral bees in nature and the far right represents the farthest from nature conventional commercial-style beekeeping. 

The main differences between the beekeeping styles boil down to how the beekeepers answer the following 3 questions. 


 On this pendulum diagram Natural Beekeeping style that is closest to the feral bees in nature is on the left, and it answers all these 3 questions negatively – in the red – no sugar feedings, no meds and no agrochemicals are allowed for miles around the apiaries. 

Next from left-to-right is a Treatment-free beekeeping style. Treatment-free does not actually mean hands-off beekeeping. Typically it’s just beekeeping without medicating the bees i.e. even organic-approved treatments are not used. However, feeding sugar to the bees is allowed. 

Further away from nature is Organic Beekeeping where common synthetic honeybee treatments like pesticides, antibiotics are not allowed but organic-approved acids like oxalic acid, formic acid and essential oils are allowed. 

The farthest away from nature is conventional commercial-style beekeeping, where apiaries are often located close to conventional farmlands replete with agrochemicals. Bees are commonly medicated and sugar-fed. 


Among 3 pillars of Natural Beekeeping:

 #1 Principle of natural beekeeping: The Right Natural Habitat Good Natural Habitat is the most important factor of the three – it’s about the right location for the apiary, location that would let the honeybees have abundant natural Spring-to-Fall nectar and pollen resources, where the beekeeper is able to keep the honeybees naturally healthy and unspoiled by any conventional chemical treatments, meds or conventional supplemental sugar-feedings. 

#2 Principle of natural beekeeping: Never Feed Sugar to Bees Bees need vitamins, protein and micro-nutrients from nectar, honey and pollen. Sugar only has carbs and compared to honey is less acidic which negatively affects the bees’ microbiome and overall health – see recent studies listed at 

#3 Principle of natural beekeeping: Never Medicate Bees Never use any chemical or acid or any oil treatments, no antibiotics or fungicides or acids. Neither for the bees nor for the beehives. You can see multiple studies listed at how chemical, acid & oil treatments negatively affect the bees and the honey they produce. 


And now a few words about what inspired us to start ForestBeehive apiary. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic thousands of people have moved to Maine. Many of those who moved were escaping the pandemic-intensified claustrophobia of the city life in search of green space. A lot of people relocated to Maine during pandemic lockdowns. 

Here’s the news article about moving to Maine.… 

In late 2020 – early 2021 we were also actively looking to escape the city life and we were lucky to find this Central Maine –located beautiful unspoiled land adjacent to a 3,000 acres’ Wildlife sanctuary and a secluded forest lake. 

This video is from January 2021 – when we first visited this secluded Maine lakeside property. The natural beauty of this land inspired us not only because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This beautiful spot of wilderness bordering a secluded forest lake and surrounded with the mixed forests and meadows reminded me of a remote apiary in Eastern Europe where I once worked more than 3 dozen years ago. Remote, natural Habitat & no pesticides/agrochemicals for miles – a rarity these days!

Right off the bat I thought it would be a great location for a sustainable natural apiary, a place where the honeybees could freely forage in pristine forests and meadows uncontaminated with pesticides or herbicides. And the next picture of the same spot was taken 1 year later – you can now see our horizontal beehives. 

Jan 1, 2023 was a warm day although you can still see the frozen lake behind the beehives. The temperature reached 50 F (10 deg Celcius) and the bees came out as if to testify that they are alive & well! What a great way to start the New Year! 

As far as our Fall 2022 Maine Wilderness honey is concerned, my wife, who was never especially fond of conventional local raw honey, all of a sudden became a convert and keeps saying “Who knew that honey can be that delicious?!”