Approximately two and a half years and 41 posts and it’s my first rant so please just bear with me.
One word I would like to remove from beekeeping is the term feral when used to describe colonies or nest sites other than in managed hives. I hear it all the time, a feral colony, in a tree, a swarm, from a feral colony, feral colony etc etc.
The origins of the word are from the early 17c and the Latin words, ferus and fera meaning ‘wild, fierce, untamed, uncivilized and savage’
In the Oxford dictionary the description for feral is “in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication”
These days the word feral is used to describe something that is bad, out of control and vicious, feral cats ect and sad to say sometimes difficult families.
It all suggests that a colony of bees not managed by a beekeeper is a negative thing and we have somehow domesticated this fascinating insect and its not able to survive without our help and once back out in the wild are a nuisance and not welcome.
Cats and dogs who after centuries of breeding have changed from the wild animal almost beyond recognition especially in the case of dogs and they turn feral when back in the wild calling on some deep seated instinct of survival but in no way near their true wild state.
Bees on the other hand are very much the same insect they have always been. This despite man’s attempts to breed bees to favour a particular desirable character and some would say this has only contributed to the problems bees face today. But despite all this the honey bee remains a wild insect and always will.
I realise some people use the term without fully understanding what they are saying about the colony and the image they are portraying. But some people use it and insist on using it. These beekeepers fall into the, I know best camp, and I am the master of the bees and not a partner with the bees.
Man has made the same mistake over and over again when it comes to nature in the mindset of “I know best” sometimes with disastrous consequences.
We should consider our relationship with the bees as a partnership and the bees are very much a wild insect either in a managed hive or a wild colony in whatever cavity they chose.
We are so fortunate that nature has given us this wonderful insect that allows us to work with them, harvest lovely honey and recover beeswax so we should respect them more and stop referring to wild colonies as feral.