BBC The Wonder of Bees by Martha Kearney

"The Wonder of Bees" is currently being shown in the UK by the BBC (available on iplayer for a short period).

The first episode opens with concerned beekeeper, Martha Kearney, desperately feeding hives bags of sugar in the snow as she fears they are starving; seconds earlier we see her eating their honey in the comfort of her own home.

Later it is suggested that a queen will be killed as the hive (in a rural location) is too difficult to handle.

Whilst I don't like to pick at this programme, I'm in two minds on it. No doubt Martha loves her bees, but rather than seeing 'the wonder of bees' I am watching typical modern, egocentric beekeeping.  

If bees are at risk of starving, why take their honey? If you have a feisty hive, why not let somebody more experienced care for them or wait for the hive to re-queen naturally, and allow genetic diversity its potential.

My hope is that  Martha's connection with bees grows as she learns directly from the true experts - the bees. Learning from them takes time and patience and begins when you are ready to listen with an open heart.


Ingrid said...

I do so agree with your comments. Frankly, I found much of what I saw upsetting. However, I hope that wisdom will prevail in the long run.

ChrisJS said...

I was puzzled that the the queens were still present in the hives with well developed queen cells. Why didnt the bees swarm when the cells were sealed as is normal? The 'expert' didn't comment on the fact??

Jonathan said...

Chris - Probably too complex for the show. I have seen bees hold off queen emergence and swarm for 6 days during bad weather. In this case the old queen swarmed and a few hours later I heard piping of a new virgin queen. They took a 4 hour gap in the bad weather to do this.

Not culling queens cells gives bees weather and timing flexibility. Trust the bees and let go of the desire to control.

ourMikeGeorge said...

As a novice I was disturbed by several aspects of beekeeping shown on the programmes, but the one that has stayed with me is the almost obscene gloating expression on Martha Kearney's face at the enormous quantity of honey taken from her bees.

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