I practice apicentric peri-urban beekeeping. I provide my bees with water, locations with high quantity nectar and pollen, and well-constructed boxes built from thick local pine and western red cedar.
All of my hives are warre and top bar hives. While I believe any hive (langstroth, warre, top bar, or other), can be managed ethically, I find warre and top bar hives to be better suited for my purposes.
A hive of bees is a superorganism with an internal communication system based on chemicals (pheromones) and vibration, exacting thermo-regulation set to 35 degrees C, and a robust disease and invasion response system that has evolved over 150 million years. I do my best not to mess with most of that. I don't use a queen excluder, and her majesty is free to roam the whole hive, although she tends to hang out in the lower boxes where the newer comb is located. I don't move my hives around, but rather look for permanent places for them, and I only move them as a last resort (if their lives are in danger). I use organic best-practices and closely follow Demeter's International Bee Standards (with the exception of queen genetics, explained here). I never open a hive unless there is no other choice, and I use as little smoke as possible. I even go so far as to only take as much honey as the bees will let me take: if they start saying no, I close the hive.
My bees have a ready source or water and a diverse selection of nectar and pollen year round, keeping my bees in optimal health and giving my honey a unique and wonderful flavour that is never the same two weeks in a row.
Unspun Honey is slow honey at its best. From the start I have made my honey the "old world" way - completely unfiltered, unheated, and crushed comb in a stainless steel hand press. Sometimes the bees will gift me with a little of their bee bread pollen in with the honey, and that adds a completely different dimension to the flavour. And that's also the way I see my honey: as a gift.
- Matthew Waltner-Toews (Advisor to the Queens)