PODCAST EPISODE 63: Ronnie Voigt, natural beekeeper and educator, Natural Beekeeping Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania
One form of heaven involves two of my greatest loves: natural beekeeping and Tasmania. Most of you would know that Tasmania is an exquisite island situated off the mainland of Australia, home to diverse and pristine landscapes, and unique flora and fauna; also, from my experience, it is also home to many environmentally conscious humans, with huge hearts, doing what they can to spread the word about the vitality of bees. However, for those new to beekeeping, natural beekeeping may be a fresh concept. This form of keeping respects the needs of the colony over those of the beekeeper. This holistic approach comes from an environmentalist perspective that honours these miraculous insects and seeks to provide the most positive domesticated life cycle. In turn, this “api-centric” approach should be encouraged for all beekeepers who want to keep bees for reasons other than intensive honey production. This is often done through the replication of the nest structure that would usually be found in the wild. By doing this, the colony is made to feel as comfortable as possible, and the intricate and sophisticated processes carried out by bees can continue. This encourages the superorganism to communicate as effectively and adapt to external conditions as they arise. For my love of Tasmania, natural beekeeping and the passion of my next guest, I am delighted to introduce you to Ronnie Voigt— natural beekeeper extraordinaire and founder of Natural Beekeeping Tasmania.
Ronnie has been beekeeping using natural methods for almost 15 years, and she does so through the use of some specifical hives and processes. Favouring the Layens Hive—an uncommon choice of hive that originated from France, horizontal in orientation, with extra deep frames— and the Warre hive—a vertical top-bar hive that uses bars instead of frames, also originating from France—Ronnie has honed a unique skill set that keeps bees at the forefront of her practice. She is also interested in Housel positioning—a method of positioning comb in the hive that works with the direction of the hive floor and seeks to approximate the order that comb is arranged in the wild. For me, meeting keepers like Ronnie is an utter treat; I love nothing more than yarning about the intricacies of natural beekeeping— it fills my heart with joy and inspires me to keep finding new ways and means, thrilled to know that there are beekeepers tucked away in the most gorgeous pockets of the planet doing what they can to marry their passion for beekeeping with their genuine love for bees as creatures. I also know that their ethics transfers over to their businesses, which is what we need in the fight of mass and blind consumerism. Through Natural Beekeeping Australia, Ronnie provides beekeeping classes, honey and bee-related products, and hives for keepers–a true Tasmanian gem.
Tune in to hear Ronnie and I unpack the intricacies of the Layens and Warre Hives, what it’s like to live and keep bees in spectacular Tasmania, and the motivation behind her business, Natural Beekeeping Tasmania.