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Roman Eisenkoelbl
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Ecological Beekeeping and Bee Sanctuary at Can Lliure, Catalunya , Spain

Posted by Roman Eisenkoelbl about 1 year ago

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ¨ Mahatma Gandhi¨
Ecological Beekeeping and Bee Sanctuary at Can Lliure, Catalunya , Spain:
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ¨
Mahatma Gandhi¨
Bees, in something like their present form, have been around for at least 100 million years.Honeybees may have been with us for around 30 million years, during which time they have evolved into one of the most successful and highly organised social creatures on earth.Honeybees have been suffering for the last 150 years from the same sort of abuses as other factory-farmed animals. They have been badly housed, overworked, over-medicated and are now dying out as a result of this abuse and widespread poisoning of the land by pesticides.
While reading and hearing many horror messages in the last few years about the constant dying of the bees we decided to work on practical solutions. We started looking into the idea of creating a Ecological Bee Sanctuary where the bees could live out there natural ¨bee¨behavior and gain strength and vitality. The search for a appropriate location started as we wanted to provide a space far away from agriculture pollution, roads,high tension cables and other negatively influencing
forces for our bees. We found the perfect site, Can Lliure.A 100 Hectar of piece of land, miles from highways, chemical agriculture and urban disturbances, surrounded by thousands of hectares of forest in a Protected area, in the stunning Garrotxa region of Catalunya, Spain. Covered with
naturally occurring aromatic plants like Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender and Ericas. 

Wild plants flowering in Winter during December and January on our land.
With the support of our friend David Mérino-Rigaill of Permaterra, France
( and the guidance and training of Mr Guillaume,author of "L'apiculture écologique de A à Z" and creator of the Ecological Beehive, we plan tocreate a thriving, healthy, abundant bee sanctuary where bees can flourish. The name of thesanctuary: L’Abella Lliure which means in english the free bee.The site we will develop to have beautiful colorful, fragrant flower gardens, a visitor's center witheducational materials on display for members of the public to learn about the fascinating lives of bees and the dangers that threaten them.

                                  Pictures from the Sanctuary surrounding Area

In the future, we will hold an annual “ Bee-Free Festival” fund-raising event. With local artists, a farmers market and honey products- a chance for the community to connect and interact with the home and caretakers of the bees.
L’Abella Lliure is a community supported bee sanctuary. Without the support, concern and interestof its members, it will not be able to grow and flourish. The aim is to form the connection between the members and the site itself- through newsletter, updates, reports and feedback about the site development (seasonal flowers and blossoms, bee populations, species we have spotted –birds, insects and other wildlife) .Through this connection we hope to inspire others to be aware of other threats and concerns to bees in their area and globally- ideally influencing behavior and choice (where they purchase their foods, which farming practices they support, planting flowers, etc)
 Other wild flowering plants during this winter season 2016/2017 at the Bee Sanctuary Site:

The Importance and urgency of this work and project:
'Pollinators are what ecologists call keystone species. You know how an arch has a keystone. It's the one stone that keeps the two halves of the arch together. [...] If you remove the keystone, the whole arch collapses.' May Berenbaum, PhD, Entomologist. From Silence of the Bees, PBS Nature
The current bee crisis has wastly devasted many traditional beekeepers economically and also many many thousands of bee colonies where lost. Some of the current challenges facing the bees are connected to following root causes:
  • Neurotoxic pesticides, magnetic fields, environmental toxicity, (air, water, soils)...
  • Bad understanding of the real natural need of bees
  • Swarm prevention (no political involvement, no politic of protection)
  • Mites & viruses
  • Mono-crop agribusiness
  • Migratory beekeeping
  • Artificial queen breeding
  • Recycled wax or plastic foundations
  • Feeding sugar/corn syrup in large quantities
  • Exploitive honey harvests
  • Swarm prevention
  • Bad design hives for exploitation (Dadant, Langstroth), no ventilation system.
  • Loss of nectar resources, loss of flowers and tree diversity 
  • Degeneration and destabilization of the natural genetic pool
  • Crossing genetics
  • Chemical treatments of livestock
Our Beekeeping Values:
Our practice of ecological beekeeping follows strict standards, uses minimal intervention and we open the hive usually just once a year! The special hives that we use are designed by Mr Guillaume, author of "L'apiculture écologique de A à Z" and a long-term beekeeping expert. 

 Mr Guillaume, author of "L'apiculture écologique de A à Z" ,its an honor to have him as our mentor and supporter.
Mr.Guillaume and David from Permaterra is mentoring and supporting us with our Bee Sanctuary.The Ecological hives are built by members of Esat J Cayrol, an organization helping to improve the lives of people at risk of social exclusion. Here are some pictures of the hive:

 The special features of these hives is the are made locally in our area(and not in China!!), the are from all natural materials, they dont have any poisonous paints or glues. Also these hives respect the bees needs of ventilation, humidity and temperature regulation. The natural movement pattern of the colony is also respected ! We never feed sugar,we always leave about 10-12kg of honey for the colony to over winter with. The hives are usually just opened once a year for harvesting.

Philip Chandler in the Barefoot Beekeeper, proposed the following three, simple principles for the 'natural' beekeeper to consider and these simple principles also guide our beekeeping practice:
1.Interference in the natural lives of the bees is kept to a minimum.
2.Nothing is put into the hive that is known to be, or likely to be harmful either to the bees, to us or to the wider environment and nothing is taken out that the bees cannot afford to lose.
3.The bees know what they are doing: our job is to listen to them and provide the optimum conditions for their well-being, both inside and outside the hive
To be considered 'natural', our beekeeping practice must take into account:
  • the natural impulses and behaviour of bees, including - foraging, swarming, storing food and defending their nest
  • how hive design affects bees the suitability of materials used in hive construction, including considerations of sustainability
  • the nature and frequency of our interventions
  • the impact of a localized increase in honeybee population on other species of pollinators
  • the balance between honey harvesting and the bees' own needs
  • the nature of any added inputs - medications, feeding
As 'natural beekeepers', our most pressing work is to restore bees to their original, healthy state. We think of ourselves as 'keepers' in the sense of 'nurturing and supporting' rather than 'enslaving'.We must seek to protect and conserve the honeybee by working within their natural capacity, not constantly urging them towards ever greater production. We must challenge the whole agricultural
and economic system that has caused us to arrive at this point, because without change at that level, the future for both us and the bees is bleak. ¨Philip Chandler¨
Our Network:
As the founders of SoilSunSoul ( we are part of a large, online, international network of Permaculture projects, regenerative farming, analog forestry, Natural Farming, eco-education and environmental projects all around the world. The L’abella Lliure Sanctuary Facebook site:
We are very fortunate and grateful to have the support of our friend David Mérino-Rigaill of PermaTerra and under the guidance and training of Mr Guillaume, author of "L'apiculture écologique de A à Z".
We also plan to publish regular updates, photos and reports about our successes and failures-hopefully these will contribute and assist others in similar projects.
Once we feel established and experienced enough to train others we will gladly share our experiences and knowledge, we look forward to helping other projects that would like to start sanctuaries by sharing our process online, through photo records and reports, and perhaps eventually, by offering our own trainings or courses.
Recently we participated in the Ecological Beekeeping Training with Permaterra in France. Here are some pictures from the workshop:



"That which we experience within ourselves only at a time when our hearts develop love is actually the very same thing that is present as a substance in the entire hive. The whole beehive is permeated with life based on love." Rudolf Steiner

How could you support us:
- get in touch with us and donate what you can to support the Sanctuary
- Become a Guardian of one of our bee-hives and contribute 10 - 25 Euro monthly for a minimum of 1 year. We will send pictures and updates about your hive at least 4 times a year. At the end of the season you get a Jar of High Value Medicinal Forest Honey (just if there is surplus created by the hive and the honey is not needed for the winter survival. We usually leave 10-12kg of honey in the hives for the bees to feed themselves through the winter.)

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Roman Eisenkoelbl has permaculture experience in:
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