Science in Beekeeping?

Blog L L Langstroth


I grimace every time I see something on Facebook touting how Scientists and The USDA are working on Saving the Bees. I hope it doesn’t take the government as long to figure out Bee problems as it has to end poverty or wage the War on Drugs. As a beekeeper with a finite lifetime I cannot put my faith in that. Putting faith in someone else to make my bees survive doesn’t make sense to me. Is it not every beekeeper’s duty to scientifically contribute to beekeeping? I have seen many examples in forums and on Facebook Groups of self proclaimed “Scientific Beekeepers” making statements that Treatment-Free Beekeepers aren’t using Science.

BLog C._C._Miller


I use Science to observe that the government moves slowly, if at all, and usually they make bad situations worse. Using cookbook methods for keeping bees is not Science. Getting a magazine every month, reading what “Experts” tell you to do with the products that are advertised in the magazine is not Science. Both of “Journals” I used to take were not scientific….. I got to the point where I was asking why I was paying for them. Almost half of every magazine was advertisements for products I won’t put into hives. The other half was instruction on how to use said products. I do miss American Bee Journal articles by Randy Oliver and Wyatt A. Mangum. Those guys were scientific, but the rest…..

Blog A I Root


New beekeepers are lectured on the importance of record keeping. Certain records are important, but merely keeping copious records of esoteric data isn’t Science. What is the reason for your record-keeping? Are you making observations, using that information to make hypotheses for further testing by yourself and others? If not, why are you doing it? You just end up with volumes of data laying around cluttering up everything. Believe me I know, I was caught up in this the first two years I kept bees. Merely recording data did not make things scientific.

Blog Michael Bush


Dee Lusby, Michael Bush, Anita Deeley, Bill Catherall, Solomon Parker and Tim Ives are but a few names of Scientist Beekeepers DOING Treatment Free Beekeeping. All of them came to beekeeping from varying backgrounds and live in different parts of the country. All are finding successes because they are willing to 1) Form a Hypothesis that treatment free beekeeping was possible based on evidence they observed around them, 2) Test their hypothesis year in year 3) making new observations, adjusting their methods and 4) by sharing their observations and results with others for further testing. Sounds a lot like the Scientific-Method to me.

Treatment-Free / Natural Beekeeping allows the rest of US to test their results and be a part of this scientific process. The methods lack complicated treatment regimens and simulative feeding schedules that require both time and money. This makes it possible for the hobbyist to get in on some Science. We are all called to be a Scientific Beekeepers. How can we ever improve our operation if we aren’t experimenting?

Blog abbey warre pic


Beekeeping has a storied history of scientists struggling against difficulties and unknowns. There was Huber, Langstroth, and Warre as well as the laundry list of others…… all individual Scientists. As beekeepers we should emulate the Spirit of Huber who didn’t let blindness stop him from making the most fundamental early observations regarding basic Bee Biology and reproduction. Langstroth went into beekeeping because he supposedly was in poor health and look at what he was able to accomplish. C. C. Miller was a physician, but gave it up to keep bees and write about it. We are all flawed humans, no different than these noted bee-keeping Giants who were the original Bee Bloggers.

BLOG Francois Huber


I wonder what Francios Huber would be thinking if he were alive to hear of keepers expecting OTHERS to find solutions to bee problems. I believe I still live in a world where individuals can make a difference. Don’t sit around waiting, get some skin in the game, keep bees, lose some bees, gain experience, learn, share, and make the world a better place! If you want to call yourself a bee keeper get out there and get your hands dirty and get stung just like our forefathers did. The ones we all know as well as the countless unnamed multitudes that have kept bees over the centuries.

Are you ready to jump in or what?


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7 Responses to Science in Beekeeping?

  1. I am honored to have my name listed among these greats! (Even if it’s spelled wrong. 🙂 )

  2. Papa Dusko says:

    Nice post 🙂 Randy Oliver once maybe a good bee scientist but today he has dinner with Bayer and Co. saying that Neonics aren’t dangerous to the bees. I know we all have to make a living but selling your soul to the Devil is just … Whyatt Mangum is indeed an inspiration 🙂

    • Jason says:

      I know that a lot of Randy Oliver’s recent stuff has some beekeepers scratching their heads and a little up-in-arms. I will admit that I was initially put off by some of the things that he was saying about neonics. I am not going to write him off just yet though. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that neonics are GOOD for bees, but I don’t think they ALONE are causing CCD. What I’m saying is.. If neonics were all removed from the markets all around the world today… tomorrow we’d still have problems for the foreseeable future.

      We will all have to watch and follow Randy’s research. I don’t want to vilify the guy. He might just be right. It is almost as if beekeepers must have a single BOOGEYMAN to blame for EVERYTHING. I know foliar application of pesticides is less prevalent in my area than it was 25 or 30 years ago. That is directly related to neonics being used. I don’t think anyone or thing should eat the stuff grown using this technology, but I question if it is the BOOGEYMAN. Some of my best trapping grounds are in heavy duty Ag areas that look just like your satellite photo. Places where neonics have been used for at least 10 years and roundup ready technology has been used heavily since the early to mid 90’s.

      My fear is with everyone screaming neonics are the problem, they are missing other potential problems that are harming the sustainability of beekeeping. Like say for instance that nowhere in beekeeping is natural swarming used as a planned form of increase. At least no place that I have seen published. The decrease in Feral Reserve due to habitat loss is much more of a problem here than neonic usage is to bees. All of the suitable old dead trees with good size cavities get cut down here. Most farmers here see a tree is dead or there is a dead section. They think it’s usefulness is spent when there is probably 15 more years of contribution it could make to many insects and animals for homes.

      I think that beekeepers actions and practices are doing just as much to harm Apis mellifera as a species as those outside the beekeeping world.
      Neonics are bad, I just don’t think this problem is as simple as getting rid of a class of pesticides. I could be wrong though…. If we would ban together and get neonics removed from the market and bee populations around the world don’t rebound then what do we say? oops… we were wrong… We actually need to outlaw “X” now since neonics weren’t the cause.

      Am I making sense here?

      • Papa Dusko says:

        My dream is to see large scale-mono crop agriculture banned and small-scale farms based on organic practice and biodiversity taking over the land. We have pesticide issues thanks to mono-crop agriculture needing fixing all the time.

        Yes many issues bees have but we must take one at a time since I don’t see mono-crop agriculture going away just yet. I think it’s madness allowing anything to be used in nature without being absolutely sure it’s not going to be detrimental to life. Since Neonics have been proven by scientists (in Europe) to weaken and kill bees there should be no hesitation on our part to remove them until proven otherwise. Yes we can say oops we were wrong but most scientist from EU know they aren’t wrong (full stop).

        In USA there is lots of corruption going on in the political life not so in Scandinavia. Hence scientists can come out with the actual results on Neonics without being bullied or corrupted by corporations and corrupt politicians.

        Don’t forget that most of the poisons used are not being tested long enough before allowed to be used by farmers. They use nature as their lab rats! That’s madness in my eyes.

        Bayer and Syngenta are saying that it’s the beekeepers causing issues and Varroa not Neonics. Randy seem to be adopting the same story.

        By the way it’s only 3 of the most dangerous Neonics being banned in EU not all of them. I suggest US bans them 3 and see how it goes.

        • Jason says:

          Here in the states our government tried to outlaw alcohol once. Making new laws is just a way for government to have more control over us. The only way that mono-crop agriculture will go away is if people decide they want a better product. Here in the US people have a skewed view of FOOD COST. Subsidized mono-crop Ag has provided cheap nastiness to the average American consumer who thinks that price is the most important factor in making food choices. Look at the average American waste-line and see how it is working out over here. Neonics as a class will fail to be effective in short order, just as Round-up and all other peisticides, herbicides, anti fungals, antivirals, and antibiotics do. I don’t know why people don’t question the safety of putting this crap in and on their food.

          Neonics are definitely toxic to bees. The seed coatings if they come into contact with bees will kill. There are 2 main types of planters that are used here. The OLDER planters use a technology called FINGER-PICKUP to take the seed from the boxes, space them, and drop them to the furrow. I don’t know as if neonics are that dangerous to bees when this form of planting is used here. When they are used massive amounts of neonic dust are not put in the air. The NEWER style planters use a vacuum to pick up the seed. In order to create the vacuum a huge blower runs on the planter at all times. The air that is exhausted from this fan is filled with neonic seed coating dust. When bees fly through that dust it sticks to them just like pollen would. I have seen the results of this in my own hives.

          I would be happy here if there were methods put in place to minimize the amount of dust exhausted into the air. I think it would be better if the people would just demand it instead of having government involved. Our government is filled with people who work or have worked for the companies who make all of these products. They aren’t going away. The only way is if people stop buying food produced with them. A business only stays in operation if it’s products get bought.

          Thanks for reading Dusko

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