Michael Thiele and the Love of Bees

On Saturday, September 21st, Erik and I will be attending a day-long Biodynamic Apiculture Workshop with Michael Thiele, sponsored by the fine folks at Honey Love. We hear there are still some open spaces, so please join us if you can. Erik has seen Michael Thiele speak, and says he is mesmerizing.

Michael Thiele is the founder of Gaia Bees, and co-founder of The Melissa Garden (a honey bee sanctuary and resource center). His approach toward bees is deeply respectful and non-exploitative. He views honey as a gift and a medicine, not as a crop.

In the video above he is demonstrating a hive of his own design, the Sun Hive or Haengekorb, the shape of which reflects the nature, needs and processes of the bees–not us. He describes the hive as an “offering to the bees” to support their welfare. As you will see in the video, he and the bees share a remarkable understanding.

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  1. That was absolutely amazing. His not wearing a bee outfit made me nervous. Was it the type of bee or his “Hello everybody” that made them not sting him or even light on him? He almost had to force them to even get onto his finger.

    It was disappointing to see he used plywood for the arches. Why did he not use something less toxic to the bees? Even if he had to glue one seam for the arch, that would be preferable to the amount of glue and byproducts in the plywood.

    What was he peeling from the top? I could not hear much of the video, so he may have answered some of my questions.

    • He is definitely a bee whisperer! As for your questions, I don’t know much about the Sun Hive, but I believe he explains it all back on his site–follow the Sun Hive link.

  2. It could also be bee genetics, some are definitely more aggressive and likewise more docile than others. I peeked at the Gaia site, and it seems like wax paper is used in some of the hives.. I thought it would be a thin layer of wax, but in that kind of heat it shouldn’t be so stiff. Maybe something coated with beeswax?

    • Hey Max, I just saw Thiele speak about this very issue. Someone asked him if they should wear a veil and he said that it’s not about veil or no veil. It’s more about your relationship with the bees, that is you should act as if you don’t have a veil on even when you’re wearing a veil. Another way to put it would be to not use the veil as an excuse to act klutzy around the bees. I use a veil at all times, by the way, but I’m trying to be more careful, deliberate and gentle when I’m working with the bees. It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

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