Now approaching folk heroine status in some beekeeping circles, Heidi has sometimes been described as a shamanic beekeeper.This witch doctor image doesn’t endear her to some traditionalists, but has inspired beekeepers across the world.“I speak a few languages, but am most keen to develop the one that my creatures respond to.
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She rarely wears a bee suit (except when using a lawnmower – bees dislike the vibrations) and regularly collects swarms and handles her bees in her everyday clothes, without being stung.
Video clips of her frequent and extraordinary swarm collections abound on You Tube.
The hive is made by hand from rye-straw and it needs a shelter, to protect it from weather.
People come together to make hives in special workshops.
Crucially, the hive is intended to be positioned at least 2.5 metres above the ground.
Here it receives more warmth and light than it would at ground level.
The honeybee is becoming an endangered species, with the finger of blame pointing in multiple directions.
Wild honeybees are nearly extinct in the UK and from 1985-2005 there was a 53 per cent decline in managed honeybee colony numbers.
This height is immensely practical, because the bees can come and go freely.
After 20 years of researching the nest-site preferences of the honeybee, author Thomas Seeley found that when a swarm chooses its own site it settles at a height between 2.5 to six metres – and never on the ground.
One of her most firmly held beliefs is that swarm suppression, a universal technique employed by most conventional beekeepers to prevent bees from leaving the hive and taking honey with them, is not just wrong, but has played a huge part in the decline of the bees.