I listen to a lot of podcasts. Several of them are Beekeeping Podcasts that have come and gone over the last several years. Unfortunately an annoyingly consistent theme arises frequently in these BeeK-Casts. This recurrent theme is FEAR. Fear seems to drive beekeepers to wishy-washy practices that include treatment regimens, feeding, and frequent manipulations. So in this supposed enlightened time, when we have access to more information than ever before in history, why is fear based Beekeeping so pervasive?
Would you go to a Fear-Based Financial Advisor for advice about your retirement? Perhaps some people would, but count me OUT! Fear is an extremely basic animal response to stress and we must always remember that when dealing with complex problems.
Our species has used fear since pre-recorded history to disorient other animals. Certain geographic locations were utilized to funnel animals over cliffs or into depressions in the ground where they would be killed. If left to their own devices animals won’t willingly jump off of cliffs to their death, but if disoriented and running scared it is easy to manipulate any animal to follow a predetermined path toward a specific end. It directs bee-keepers over a cliff of buying products, feeding and performing manipulations that are unnecessary and in the long run detrimental to the long-term goals of their beekeeping operation.
Fear makes us do things without thinking them through. Reactionary responses to fear and emotion leads to bad outcomes. It leaves one open to suggestion and turns the logic center off in our brain.
One podcast I listen to is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Dan did a Five part Series on the Mongols called Wrath of the Khans. (Here is a link to some of his shows). In one of the episodes he gave insight into how fear led man, a logical being, into the same simple traps as prey animals. He spoke of how Mongol horsemen would kill animals and man alike using almost identical horseback hunting methods.
Horsemen would herd victims into a group surrounding them, all while running at speed. Fear of death would have the unfortunate individuals seeking any chance out of the terrifying situation. At a predetermined time, signal, or point on the landscape the horsemen would intentionally open a hole in their line so that it could be easily seen by the intended victims. Hunted prey and humans alike would see this glimpse of freedom and make a break for it, thinking it was their chance at salvation. This however was just a deception and the opening was nothing but a trap that would deliver the intended prey right to the point of slaughter according to the pre-conceived plan.
Thankfully there are no men on horseback yielding swords or bows and arrows in beekeeping. Most likely if you are reading this, bees are NOT even your sole source of income (yet). Most beekeepers fear is based on pride as well as the investment of time and money they have in their bees. Losing bees is a bummer, I will be the first to admit it, but it is nothing to fear. Our own mortality is known to us but we cannot reach our full potential in this world if we think about that fear of death every second of every day. The fact of the matter is that bees die, sometimes for reasons we can determine and other times for reasons we are unable to ascertain.
If you have been feeding and treating and your bees are still dying why do you continue those practices? Allow logic to direct your Beekeeping, NOT FEAR. If it were as simple as feeding and treating, why are people in those camps having trouble keeping their bees alive? Each of us as beekeepers are to be as citizen scientists comparing hives that expire to ones that survive. Remove emotion from this agricultural endeavor. Recreate conditions that led to surviving colonies and cease practices that led to colony failure. It’s not sexy and it won’t make a good headline, but it’s more of a scientific method… NOT a fear-based method.
Losing a hive of bees should be viewed as a chance for education and improvement in your beekeeping as well as your stock. NOT an event to be feared. A lost colony of bees provides you with products and is just part of the operation of beekeeping. Such products include drawn comb that can be used as bait in swarm traps or to aid new colonies with those combs upon hiving them. If you have several colonies and one dies with stores in it, the robbed surplus honey is not wasted and will be claimed by the remaining colonies. The impact of such stores on your remaining colonies from robbed dead-outs cannot be discounted.
In the event you are looking for a Bee Keeping Podcast NOT based on fear I recommend Solomon Parker’s – Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast.
It would be a shame to devote a lifetime to bees only to have those lines die out shortly after we the individual beekeeper does. What happens to “your bees” genetic lines when you can no longer take care of them?
Have you ever let fear direct your beekeeping decisions?