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.
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…..
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.
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?
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.
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?