Pandemic in managed bee colonies and honey factories
Honeybee pandemic, honey factories, what's in the honey?

Typical conventional high honey-yield apiaries are mostly located on the edge of conventional farm fields where the bees would forage and where the crops are grown with the help of the following human-engineered argo-chemicals: Herbicides (to kill weeds), Insecticides (to kill bugs), Fungicides (to get rid of diseases).

Typical conventional apiaries are often organized like a farm field adjacent factories for producing high yields of honey which, incidentally, would contain traceable amounts of all of the above agro-chemicals (see studies at

To increase productivity, such typical conventional apiaries would also supplement their bees’ forage with sugar feedings where the cheapest possible sugar would be purchased at wholesale prices for less than $1 per pound.

And just like in a busy factory, many dozens of conventional vertical beehives would be placed right next to each other — a typical very high-density of managed bee colonies.

For both honeybees and humans, when the population density is unnaturally high, any potential diseases may spread like wildfire and create a pandemic.

These days, the managed honeybee colonies are experiencing their own global pandemic: just like us humans packed in overcrowded cities, the overcrowded managed honeybee colonies are also affected by the impact of globalization when various parasitic mites from across the globe are easily spreading throughout the densely populated managed honeybee colonies.

The current honeybee pandemic is also driven by global depletion of forage and by a widespread use of agricultural chemicals and by a loss of biodiversity.

Conventional miticide treatments with human engineered chemicals or essential oils or acids harm the bees’ health and further contaminate their brood and their honey (see studies at )

At ForestBeehive apiary in Central Maine we are located right next to a large wildlife sanctuary and we have no pesticides for miles.

As there are plenty of natural foraging resources for the bees, we never follow an unfortunate modern conventional beekeeping practice of supplemental sugar-feeding for our bees.

We also never treat our bees or beehives with any human engineered chemicals or any acids or essential oils, which is yet another unfortunate practice of conventional beekeeping.

Although the density of beehives in our apiary is relatively low, to keep our treatment-free bees healthy, we are further reducing our hive density by placing some of the existing beehives along with these 2 new boxes in a newly cleared wooded area that we just seeded with wildflowers – about 200 yards away from the original apiary.

Here we practice beekeeping with Minimal disturbances to the bees — I call this beekeeping style ‘Benevolent Beekeeping’.

Even though we use horizontal beehives that are less stressful for the bees, we only open them a few times a year.

Each time a beehive is open for inspection, there’s a risk of injuring the bees or even the Queen. Opening the hive upsets its balance of temperature and moisture and maintaining such balance is critical to the healthy development of the young bees. Also frequent opening of beehives allows more pathogens to get in as it
breaks the propolis seal. Propolis is that sticky brownish substance that serves as an external immune system for the bees.

It takes the bees at least 2 days to fully repair the propolis seal after an inspection.

So I try to open beehives as infrequently as possible as I really don’t want my bees to spend their precious time repairing the damage that I’ve done by mindlessly poking around in their homes.

The bees would only benefit if we meddle less in their complex daily lives: they are their own best beekeepers.

So instead of frequently inspecting inside the hive, I prefer to rely on outside observations and on videos like this one.

For example, if the beehive becomes queen-less, it will have the bees run around in a more agitated way and the hive will sound louder with a more alarming sound. This will be an urgent SOS signal for me to check and correct.

Here the bees are just bringing in nectar and pollen.
A lot of nectar now comes from milkweed – a truly remarkable wild plant producing lots of delicious nectar for the bees.
Farmers are often bent on eradicating milkweed with herbicides as eating it can be poisonous to livestock.

But here both the bees and the butterflies love milkweed and we have lots of flowering milkweed in and around the apiary.
The white pollen that the bees bring in their pollen baskets are, likely, from flowering jewelweed and chickory flowers & the yellow pollen is probably from flowering birdsfoot trefoil & black-eyed susan flowers.