We are often asked whether we clip our Queen's wings. I'm surprised how often we are asked this but also encouraged because it means more people than I imagined are aware of the practice of clipping the wings of a queen bee by beekeepers.
It's a harmless practice in the sense that it doesn't cause any pain to the queen - as far as we know - which helps to prevent queen-led swarming.
While I can understand why a beekeeper might be tempted to maintain complete control over their colony of bees, it's not a practice we condone, nor carry out.
I don't see our role as beekeepers as omnipient controllers of the bees; simply guardians. Our role as bee farmers and bee masters is simply to support the natural behaviours of honeybees. We don't clip the queen's wings, instead we regularly maintain and monitor the hives to largely remain one step ahead of their behaviour, providing them with what they need in order to remain happy and not feel the need to swarm.
However, we are also understanding that they are, ultimately, a wild animal. And if they want to swarm, we allow that to happen because it's natural and normal.
That's the importance of being an ethical beekeeper.