Taming of the Beekeeper – Beginning Beekeeping

As the news and sporting conflicts of today compete with each other, it confuses the mind as it seems one is saying “night is day” and the other “day is night” so we accept one or the other, yet both can be equally false. The mind goes back to William Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shew” and the mind-altering dialogue between Petruchio and Katherine. Petruchio convinces Katherine that an old man who is wrinkled and age faded and withered was actually a young maiden! “Why, dear me, Kate! I hope you haven’t lost your mind. This is not a maiden, as you say, but an old man – wrinkled, faded, and withered”. In truth it wasn’t a maiden but an old man. As Katherine’s ability to fight back dwindles she goes along with Petruchio and further claims the “sun is the moon” and other falsehoods. Hence the title “Taming of the Shew”. Essentially recalibrating the mind.

To accept this same train of thought in beekeeping, one could call a queen bee a king bee solely because they viewed it as such, taking no consideration into mating, fertility, size and shape, spermatheca, and the ability to create a fertilized egg. A vertical double deep can be a horizontal single solely due to the opinion of the one using it. This would make teaching and mentoring a nightmare. Specific terminology would move to broad terms like “a hive”. Unless of course, the “hive” is further morphed into a “modern organic or non-organic constructed non-identified living insect habitat” or “MONCNILIH” for short.

The challenge then is to somehow place “truth glasses” on to see the world around us as it really is. As wishful as this seems, leaders and researchers in the beekeeping industry are “truth glasses” to those of us who are learning. Perhaps even their glasses need cleaning from time to time as new science revolves around a newly discovered truth.

Beekeeping has some basic tenants or truths

1) Beekeepers are to care and manipulate their colonies for a desired purpose.
2) At times a beekeeper has to intervene to assist the colony when threats appear.
3) Not all locations are ideal for raising bees, producing honey, creating queens, etc.
4) Many methods exist and they can all be successful.
5) Learning never ends as new lessons can be learned as well as old ones relearned.
6) Different honey bees have different traits, they are NOT all the same.
7) Practice good hygiene, keep tools and clothing clean.
8) Don’t just accept a teaching, try it and see if it works.
9) Participate in the beekeeping community, teach, volunteer, attend conferences, meet and talk with others.
10) Written English materials in beekeeping go back to the 16th century, read what is available.  Get a collection of old bee books.
11) Forgive others and move on. Remember we are a family.

Adding the Beekeeping Hat to your Experiences

Choosing to start beekeeping can be a daunting first step…how, when, what, ah, do I need this, do I need that, but what if I fail, others get stung, WHAT if I get stung? So many questions pop up and have to be overcome. Take a class, read a book, visit a beekeeper, taste local honey, look for bees on flowers, ask around, make it a point of “looking” when most blindly go about their day. A beekeeper sees plants, smells flowers, looks for pollinators and predators, looks up and down to understand the environment, understands weather cycles and how it can affect a colony, and will go and work with the bees because it is enjoyable and needed.

A Simple Plan for Starting Beekeeping

– Set a plan to search for a local or online class for new beekeepers. Don’t just visit YouTube, get real guidance first. Guidance will help in understanding terminology and will demystify the beekeeping craft.
– Define what your goals are. This maybe honey, or just pollination, perhaps apitherapy. The list goes on. Once you know why you want a hive, then you are ready for the adventure.
– Look for a hive. Many styles exist and work. Rule of thumb, the larger the hive(s) the greater the area you will need for them. Always keep in mind how neighbors will react or be affected by your adventure.
– Mentors are vital for successful beekeeping. Look for someone you can go to for answers, advice, or for experienced in-hive inspections. It is easier learning to drive a car with someone who already knows and can guide you. Especially when the hazards appear.
– Location or placement of your chosen hive is somewhat up to you, but some places are better than others. Wet regions need full sun. Hot areas need shade and nearby water. Deserts need access to forage or feed during dearths. Vandals can find almost anything anywhere, as can rodents and animals.
– Become familiar with your area and those in agriculture around you. Pesticide use is common and it is to your advantage to know what is going on around you. Residential areas are more prone to not reading labels and can inadvertently cause a threat to your perfect spot.
– Invest in protective gear. This can be just gloves and a veil, but can be an “all in” thing where you want it all and look the part. Never hurts to have a spare for the car or for those visiting.
– When you are ready, buy your new bees and keep a journal. Take photos and videos. Your friends and family will want to see you in your new element. Documentation is encouraged. How do you know you are improving if you are not recording where you have already been?
– Meet with a local inspector. Introduce yourself or invite them to your new apiary. Perhaps visit a commercial yard or bee lab.
– As you blossom into a seasoned beekeeper, advanced certifications exist. Master beekeeping certifications for some show how much they don’t know, whereas for others it becomes a thrill to learn and achieve a recognized level of beekeeping proficiency.

Go have fun. See the world through the eyes of a beekeeper and the amazing bees that live among us. As William Shakespeare penned in “As You Like It”, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Play your part and enjoy yourself while doing it!

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Eco Bee Box Canada produces modern pine and cedar beekeeping beehive equipment in both Canada (CA) and United States (US). This signature equipment is made with patented hardware for our unique box designs. This attractive hardware prevents box breakdown and assists the beekeeper. Our modern hives include: the Mini Urban Beehive (MUB); Langstroth Horizontal Hive (SANC); Comb Box Hive (COMB); Observation Hive (LUM); Vintage Hive (VINT); and others. 

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