Peer Reviewed Apiaries
I am a suporter of the efforts by the “Certified Naturally Organic” organization (you can visit their website here) to create a more affordable and manageable peer-reviewed system of evaluating standards for produce, livestock, and beekeeping efforts to be considered “Organic”.
In regards to beekeeping, they have established a set of standards that beekeeper can identify and work to attain and achieve to be reasonably considered as an “Organic” apiarist. The downloadable, free PDF booklet they provide guides beekeepers through various aspects of apiary set-up, hive management techniques, and equipment to meet a lowest acceptable level, a highest, most desirable level and even a “bottom line” level at which if the described requirements are not up to that much, do not and will not be acceptable to be considered as meeting this definition of “Organic”.
By having peer beekeepers in a select geographic region act as assessors of meeting said standards for each other, or not, providing they are being intellectually honest and showing a respectable degree of integrity, costs for obtaining said status are reduced and the beekeeping community in that region is more accountable to themselves and each other in a way that encourages cooperation and communication with each other.
Of course, honey itself is not and cannot be “Organic”. Beekeepers cannot contain or otherwise restrict the sources from which honey bees obtain nectar to make honey, The range itself in which honey bees will travel to locate suitable forage is too extensive for a beekeeper to even hope to control. So while the honey itself is not organic the hives and bees themselves CAN be managed and maintained in apiaries meeting specific, controllable standards that can be reasonable be defined as “Organic”.
Peer based interaction of beekeepers supports individualized goals, objectives, and tactics that allow a beekeeper to define “success” for themself yet remain an active, voluntary participant in a larger community of beekeepers organized to support, educate, inform, and market beekeeping, bees, honey and other products of the hive more efficiently and effectively than by doing so entirely on their own.
You, the individual beekeeper, have a demonstrable and observably defined “meter-stick” to prove the quality and care within which you manage your honey bee colonies. At the same time, it is not a “forced” effort to meet imposed standards but a voluntary effort on your part to meet standards you choose to agree with. This reinforces your ability as an individual beekeeper to maintain your own goals and objectives to meet your own definition of success while being a part of a larger community of beekeepers.