- Local Adaptation: Focussing on bee species and subspecies that are native or well-adapted to the local environment. For the British Isles, this often means prioritising the conservation and propagation of the native honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera (AMM).
- Genetic and Epigenetic Diversity: Preserving and enriching the genetic and epigenetic diversity of bee populations to bolster their resilience against diseases, parasites, and shifting environmental conditions. Acknowledging the role of epigenetics—changes in gene expression influenced by external or environmental factors without altering the DNA sequence—underscores that both genetic heritage and environmental interactions are crucial for the adaptability and health of bee communities. This approach supports the development of traits that enable bees to thrive through natural resistance and adaptability, enhancing their ability to cope with challenges without relying on human intervention.
- Natural Beekeeping Practices: Implementing beekeeping practices that align closely with the natural behaviours and life cycles of bees. This includes minimal intervention in the natural processes of the hives and allowing bees to develop traits that enable them to survive and thrive without human aid, particularly regarding resistance to pests and diseases.
- Avoidance of Chemical Treatments: Discouraging the use of chemical treatments for pests and diseases, advocating for natural resistance and management practices that do not harm the bees or the environment.
- Non-Importation of Bees: Avoiding the importation of bees from other regions or countries to prevent the spread of diseases and the dilution of locally adapted bee genetics. This also includes discouraging the use of non-native bee species or subspecies like the Buckfast bee. [more]
- Sustainable Forage and Habitat: Promoting the development and conservation of environments that provide bees with abundant, diverse forage and suitable habitats for nesting and overwintering.
In essence, sustainable beekeeping is defined by practices that ensure the health and viability of bee populations for the long term, focusing on harmony with nature, genetic health, and environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on understanding and utilising genetic and epigenetic factors for bee health and adaptability.