Natural beekeeping as such can be understood as a variety of techniques used on beekeeping. While there's no a dogmatic definition, the central idea around natural beekeeping is minimal handling, natural combs, and the avoidance of chemical and antibiotic treatments.
Our aim is to make the bees thrive mostly on their own by providing them with an environment as close as possible to their natural habitat. The consensus among modern ecological,Natural beekeepers is that the best environment possible for healthy bees can only be found in hives without artificial foundation, no matter if the hive style is Top bar hive, Warré , or a Foundationless Langstroth hive.
We go foundationless for 3 key reasons:
1) To avoid chemicals present in wax foundation and plastic frames
2) To force bees to build Natural sized cells(smaller than artificial foundation) thus giving them a fighting chance against Varroa without the use of chemicals
3) Honey harvesting is done by simply crushing and straining combs natural combs thus getting rid right away from old combs that tend to accumulate pesticides and other environmental poisons.. You also avoid the expense of purchasing a costly Honey Extractor or having to make trips carrying your honey supers to the place where is located a Honey extractor or bothering others to borrow one.
Natural Beekeeping requires comb management where you have to make sure bees are building comb straight or in the right places at all times.That is where Hives with observation windows come in handy so you don't have to be bothering honey bees opening up hives at all times.The way to keep combs straight is by molding them into place by hand and in extreme situations bring them back in line using natural fiber strings tied to the top bars.
CHEMICAL TREATMENTS AND NATURAL SELECTION
The symbiotic relationship between honey bees and beekeepers is not vital for the survival of bees and the truth is honey bees have survived(and thrived) for thousands of years without the intervention of men, adapting along the way to the challenges and changes in the environment .We believe the key for bees survival is good genetics and it can only be achieved through Natural Selection where only the fittest will survive.
At the moment the survival of honeybees is directly influenced for their capability to endure 4 key environmental factors:Varroa mites and other parasites,pesticides,diseases and extreme weather. Right now the response of the Beekeeping industry and Beekeeping Scientists is to develop ever stronger treatments.The big problem with this approach is that it tends to breed ever stronger parasites and diseases. In fact it brigs to existence SUPER PESTS and keeps alives weak bees that in a natural environment would have died off and been replaced by bees with stronger genetics.
It is a mistake to believe Natural selection takes millenia to produce change when the truth is these changes come faster when the environmental change pressures are greater. Current change pressure on Honeybees worldwide are very strong. By avoding the use of strong antibiotics and miticides,we allow only the bees with strong genetics to survive.If we then breed Queens and Nucs only off those bees that survive Winter ,we are increasing the speed of change and and helping nature do its Natural Selection process faster.