Today I was going to post about a new observation that I have made in swarming behavior. It is exciting and I feel it is important, but I will post it on Monday. I had been thinking about something yesterday and a phone call in the afternoon compelled me to change mid stream.
A new beekeeper AND friend (Mike) called stating he had caught his third swarm in a trap he built based upon the directions I had given him. Originally his neighbor, who has been keeping bees for years, told him to purchase packages. Mike was told the same thing that I have heard time and time again, “there are no more feral bees!” and “That won’t work!”
Mike asked if he should begin feeding his newly caught swarms. I told him NO and from his hesitation I could tell he had already heard differently. I told him, that I had not fed anything in two years and my beekeeping world did not end. If you refuse to feed, some colonies will die, but those bees are Welfare Bees. If you feel the need to feed them go ahead. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Feed them now and you will feed them in the fall. Then you will need to feed them next spring. It is a losing proposition.
If you are interested in beekeeping take the time to observe bee behavior from outside the hive. Don’t just get your knowledge from books and bee forums. You owe it to your bees to improve upon what older beekeepers and current bee literature have to offer. I have had the same experience with gardening as over time subtle cues become a form of communication. If you see blossom end rot your tomato plant is telling you the ground lacks calcium. All of nature communicates in similar ways. You need the appreciation and perception to understand. A large component of communication is just making the effort to “listen”. You cannot get that from a book about bees, and you don’t need to go pillaging through your hives once a week to know if they are alright or not. Just LetMBee!!!!!!
What my bees tell me is that they want to be left alone. When I first began keeping bees I had a mentor (Ken) who instructed me to feed as well as prophetically treat for varroa and nosema. I began feeding sugar syrup and my bees began to spot on the front of their boxes. I was at work when my wife called explaining that there were brown streaks all over the front of the hives. I was beside myself. Two weeks into beekeeping and my bees were already coming down with something!!! Ignorance strikes again! Bees are not supposed to eat sugar dissolved in water, placed in a feeder close to or inside their hive. They are supposed to accumulate small amounts of nectar from across vast expanses. Nectar is NOT the same as cane, beet or God forbid high fructose corn sugar. Human digestive tracts give similar results when exposed to extremely rich and unnatural forage! I stopped feeding and the spotting stopped. I have not fed since. So don’t tell me it cannot be done.
So what can you do? At times you will need to seek advice from other beekeepers. Take that information and be respectful, but don’t just blindly follow advice without first thinking about it and asking others. If you ask about something and immediately are told “THAT WON’T WORK!”, ask why! It may have never worked for them because they never tried it. If you don’t get a satisfactory response experiment on a small scale yourself.
Let bees be bees! If you provide them a home and allow them the ability to do what they need to do without frequent molestation , they will survive and produce for you. I have been growing more and more frustrated with bee documentaries as I have stated in previous posts. They play depressing music and act as if all is lost. A common theme is to place blame on other industries and individuals. Yet they refuse to expose current beekeeping “standard of practice”. This needs to be re-evaluated. They do show migratory beekeepers slamming boxes of bees around and other beekeepers dancing around half naked with frames exposed to open air. That is not allowing the bees to do what comes natural to them. See my earlier post Where do bees come from? as well as Genetic Gambling. No wonder bees are having problems as a species.
This is getting a little long for a blog post so I had better wrap it up. All of us need to have a little faith in bees as well as ourselves. Allow them to do what they need to do and try to stay out of those boxes unless you have a good reason. From time to time you will have losses, but if you are having them already how is it any different? If common practices in beekeeping continue to give bad results why do people continue those practices all the while telling those with new ideas “that won’t work”? Go ahead tell me it won’t work. I am going to continue this blog to show you that things can work if you let them.
Do you disagree? Leave comments or ask questions a question.