Other Things to Consider…

Things to Consider when Becoming a Beekeeper

…by Lorinda Forrest

It can’t be stressed enough that education is key when it comes to beekeeping. Sure there are lots of books out there, but even within those many books a “wannabee” will find conflicting information. What is important to understand are there are two schools of thought regarding beekeeping methods. One stems from the practices commercial beekeepers use to manage colonies in such a way that colonies continually perform at a desired level so that the beekeeper can make the most money from pollination services his business earns from commercial agriculture. The other practice is one that many hobbyist beekeepers embrace which refrains, as much as possible, from the use of chemicals and treatments. Some hobbyist beekeepers go so far as to not use wax foundation because it comes from commercial sources and is guaranteed to contain pesticide and other chemical residue. These beekeepers allow their bees to build comb on the wooden frames they insert into the hive, just as bees do in a feral setting, building comb within the hollow of a tree.

A new beekeeper needs to decide if he wants to be influenced by the management techniques of commercial beekeepers which represent 90% of all bee colonies in the U.S. or follow the practices of other hobbyist beekeepers which represent more than 90% of all beekeepers. While it seems easier to rely on chemicals in an attempt to deal with the threat of mites and other diseases, with a little homework and slight modification in beekeeping practices, it is even easier to maintain a healthy hive using methods described below. The bottom line is: it is your decision. Keep this in mind though; will you allow yourself to be influenced by the beekeeping practices commercial beekeepers use who are experiencing massive bee losses, or would you be interested in considering incorporating practices that replicate the environment bees have found and incorporate in a feral setting. Remember, bees, in their current form, have been around for more than 50 million years. Through time they have evolved to deal with other pests and pathogens (without human intervention). As honeybee researcher Thomas Seely has discovered in observing feral hive health, feral bees have evolved to overcome the effects of a recent pest, the varroa mite…on their own, without our intervention. Learn more about some of his work from his and others work this paper, “Next Up, The Survivors“.