#1: They take a hands-on approach.
Commercial beekeepers use antibiotics on their hives to combat a bacterial disease called American foul brood, says Ross Conrad, author of Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture (Chelsea Green, 2007). "It's a very deadly, very contagious disease," he says, that can spread quickly to other hives as bees in those hives eat honey from the affected hive. But, while antibiotics are good a wiping it out, they also kill the "good" bacteria that bees need. "Bees are like humans," Conrad says. "They need beneficial bacteria to help their digestive processes, and they also need it to process pollen, which provides nutrients and protein." Some tests have found traces of antibiotics in honey imported from abroad, so buy honey from local beekeepers who use mechanical methods, such as thoroughly cleaning out hives and removing infected honeycombs, rather than antibiotics, to kill diseases.