If you read my last post, including updates, you will see I was quite wrong about several things.
- Although I knew drones were bigger than workers, the large eyes of the bee in the “stand-off” photos convinced me it was a drone, despite it not having a blunt body and being the same size as the other bee.
- When we tested for Foulbrood and the test was negative, I assumed (always a mistake), our bees were in the clear. Wrong again. They have Parasitical Mite Syndrome, which means their chances of making it to spring are slim indeed.
And yet, as one reader commented about the Yellow Jackets, we can’t give up until the bees do. As long as they are alive, we will continue to do everything we can to give every chance possible to survive.
What this means in practical terms is pretty much following the winter strategy we had already decided on.
- Feed them as much as they want to take.
- Treat them again for Varroa (this time with a vaporizer).
- Winterize their hive with insulation and a wrap.
If they don’t survive, our next bees will benefit from this year’s bees’ work by starting with drawn comb instead of foundation and having honey, rather than sugar water, as food if they need it.
So, lessons learned:
- Beekeeping has a steep learning curve. There is much to know, and I don’t think anyone can become an expert in a day (if ever).
- Sometimes, you just have to do what you can and trust your bees to know what’s best for them.
- If you are the sort of person who wants to feel smart and be right all the time, beekeeping is probably not for you.
- Some hives thrive despite ignorance and lack of care.
- Other hives fail no matter how much care and thought they are given.
- Use drone frames early, and make sure you take them out before the drones (and Varroa) emerge.
- Treat for Varroa. Just assume your hives have them. They do.
- When you put out dry pollen for your bees, every bee in a five mile radius will come to call.
- Everyone has different ideas about how to do things. Some of these strategies may work for you. Some won’t.
- Because every hive is different.
- In no way does the above truth excuse you from learning as much as you can.
8 thoughts on “So, You Want to Be a Beekeeper? Prepare to Occasionally Feel Very Stupid”
Beekeeping as a metaphor for life… especially 9, 10 and 11.
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Spot on. Beekeeping is a metaphor for life. We learn to accept the ebbs and flows. A time for growth and a time for loss. We find that we can’t thwart nature no matter how much we try. And that neither pushing and shoving nor ignoring are effective strategies. Instead we find that by loosening our grip on the tiller and being supportive when needed yields the best results.
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The bees also remind me that the ways of nature are a wondrous thing. Thanks again for your earlier guidance.
Thanks, Kate. Didn’t realize I was thinking quite that big, but you’re right and very wise to spot the larger implications. 😉
I was filling a watering can at my rain barrel this morning, wondering if this would be the last time I use it, and should I empty it on this lovely day. Which was when I realized what I was staring at while I pondered, was a bee, going between the bacopa blooms planted on top of the rain barrel, pollen sacs full. Refocusing, there were 3 bees enjoying the flowers. I’ll empty it another day.
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So interesting to watch them!
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