Book review: "Biodynamic Beekeeping" by Matthias Thun

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Beebe 

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Some people may know that this is a book which I was given under unusual circumstances. It's the most interesting bee book I have read so far, (I haven't read any of the "classics"...in fact, I haven't read many bee books!). But it's kept me in full browse mode for a few days. This is not because I am particularly interested in the "cosmic forces" to which the author ascribes the power to affect beekeeping in a beneficial way, but because his almost haphazard writing style is well suited to the complexities and apparent contradictions of traditional beekeeping. I intend to discuss some of the ideas which seem significant to Matthias Tunn and/or to me.

In the first chapter he suggests that beekeepers think of the start of the beekeeping year as being in late summer when the colony apparently starts raising the "winter bees" (do we?). He says that is wrong, and that many summer bees choose an easy life and go on into winter. He says that since bees are effectively a superorganism which, like our own bodies, is being continuously renewed, we needn't think of the colony living in installments. If bees do have a logical starting point to the year, he suggests it is the winter solstice.

More to follow; I welcome other peoples' opinions on the book or on my interpretation of it.:)
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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I've always thought of the start of the year as being late summer - it's what you do from there on which determines how strong and healthy the bees are to get a good start the next season.
I bet you this cove doesn't treat his bees - or even make an attempt to determine its varroa load (apart from maybe waving a few crystals over the hive whilst shaking a rattle.)
 

Erichalfbee 

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I bet you this cove doesn't treat his bees - or even make an attempt to determine its varroa load (apart from maybe waving a few crystals over the hive whilst shaking a rattle.)
I think he's dead
 

Beebe 

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I think he's dead
I know he's dead; unfortunately he passed away in June 2020, before the English translation of his book was published.

didn't the crystals work then?
No......unfortunately he's now a bit bio-lethargic.

Fortunately, despite the hindrance caused by the crystals and varroa-ash, because the favourable alignments of the planets appear to reliably coincide with the correct sorts of days and the times of year to undertake beekeeping tasks, Matthias appears to have not let bio-dynamics affect his success as a beekeeper.
 

Antipodes 

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I don't think of a beekeeping year, but I think of a season as being when the nectar is flowing. It might be our relatively sunny winters and array of plants that flower all year, but the beekeeping year never seems to stop...
 

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I asked for (and received) this book for Christmas. I like to think of myself as being pretty open-minded, and I wanted to test the waters with this, having recently finished David Heaf's excellent "The Bee Friendly Beekeeper".

To be honest, I struggled. Firstly I found myself blowing very hot and cold on the credibility of the proposition. One minute I was about to buy myself the 2021 biodynamic calendar; the next beating myself up for giving any credence to any of it. I think if you believe something enough, you make the facts fit. I have to say that I could not correlate any of my noted previous-year events (swarms, notable temperament) with the 2020 calendar days supposedly ideal for such-like.

I couldn't help but get the impression that Matthias Thun was just one of life's crazies - indoctrinated by his mother, before him. Don't get me wrong, the world needs crazies and contrarians.

For me I think the reading experience was also affected by the style. In fact as a linguist and a German speaker, I just found that it read like a ham-fisted translation, and I found that hard work, too.... So much so, that I lost the will to finish reading it, about 70% through.

Maybe I'll pick it up again over the next couple of months. Pleased to know you are enjoying it Beebe ... It gives me some hope I might grow back into it.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Matthias appears to have not let bio-dynamics affect his success as a beekeeper.
Just illustrates that bees more or less survive despite what we do to them
 

pargyle 

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I haven't read the book ... I know of it and I know some of the things that Thun puts forward. I know more about Steiners work upon which a lot of Thun's ideas appear to be based.

There are some things that I could probably equate to my beekeeping but ... I think the difficulty I have with some of it is that the connections they make between what the bees do and when they do it and why are a bit tenuous. My beekeeping is centred on allowing the bees to work in the way they would in their natural environment so perhaps I'm on the fringe of beekeeping - I think what I've seen in Steiner and now what appears to be emerging in Thun ... it's a step too far for me even !

I'll be interested to hear a synopsis of any practical ideas Thun puts forward that could be part of my beekeeping but I'm not expecting a lot.
 

Beebe 

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I'll be interested to hear a synopsis of any practical ideas Thun puts forward that could be part of my beekeeping but I'm not expecting a lot.
I'm not sure I'll have much to say if I stick to those parts of the book. :rolleyes: But I do think I would be wasting everyone's time by giving many details of the actual biodynamic principles. By Chapter 2, Thun explains how the twelve Zodiacal constellations are placed in groups of three. Each group represents a period during which it would be auspicious for the beekeeper to carry out particular type of activity with their bees. In a similar way, the bees will be inclined to do particular things; eg. collect pollen during the constellation of Gemini.

I can't help thinking that if there is any base for these claims, the reasons are related more on the co-incidence of these propicious times with what are, in any case, the appropriate times of the year.
 
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