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The specialist international beekeeping organisation
Natural beekeeping is a methodology which aims to imitate the environment and lifecycle of the bees and to satisfy their need with methods and techniques as close as possible to their wild and natural state.
Natural beekeeping refers primarily to the relationship between the bees and the beekeeper within the colony and apiary. The broader principles of sustainable beekeeping are usually endorsed, to include environmental and genetic factors along with management methodologies. The two terms, "natural" and "sustainable", are frequently used interchangeably. Other terms are "bee-friendly", since bee welfare is the first consideration in natural beekeeping, and "hands-off", referring to the minimal interference in the bee colony.
Methodologies have developed with the use of hive types which differ from the frame hives used by many beekeepers in Europe and those parts of the world to which Apis mellifera has been transported but is not indigenous. Methodologies are based on key principles, however, which are not limited to hive types but which are generally applicable.
Natural beekeepers seek to work with and develop key principles rather than a book of rules:
Regular observation allows the beekeeper to understand and recognise the health and development of the colony. Management interventions are informed by the bees' own needs. Intervention is minimised, using three broad principles: