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Thread: old beekeepers

  1. #1
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    Jun 2003
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    belews creek,nc
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    Question

    Is it me or do older beekeepers seem to resist change? I'm talking about beekeepers in their 60's and 70's. At least that's the way they react in our bee club. You ask them questions about something new and they give you the deer in the headlights look. Then they tell you about what has worked for them for 40 years. Sometimes I wished that I had not asked them at all. Then there are some who are not afraid to try something different.Those are the older beekeepers that I try and ask questions. Is it just me or are there others that have gone through the same thing?

  2. #2
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    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    I thought everyone on this board was that old.

    Except for perhaps V-mites, I tend to agree with the old standard ways of beekeeping. Alot of plastic, gizmos, and new products, to old beekeepers are just wasting money. I tend to agree. The only "old" practice, I think is set in the ways, is that of throwing strips in the hives on a regular basis. But I don't think that has anything to do with age as alot of younger beekeepers do it too.

    By the way, sometimes old timers tell good things, but maybe your not listening. Kind of like seeing the forest, but not the trees kind of thing. Beekeepers in general talk to much, and want to speak of me, me. me. Humor them, you'll be one down the road. Old timers sell stuff cheap. So rub those elbows, or wait till they pass and buy from the widow. See, good comes from alot of things.

    [This message has been edited by BjornBee (edited March 07, 2004).]

  3. #3
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    Jan 2003
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    Kiel WI, USA
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    Post

    People resist change, regardless of age. Beekeepers are generally known for their stubborness, though
    Youngest in my bee club by about 15yrs,
    David

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    Big Grin

    After learning a lot from my family, I went out and sought further education and life experiences... returning home I found a lot of things that aren't done "up to date." But I quickly realized the value of an old adage You can't teach an old dog new trick..

    Does that mean you shoot the dog? Naw, just let him have his yard and his bone and let him enjoy the life he knows and loves.

    WayaCoyote (who lives by the rule "cheaters never win, but it doesn't matter if you win or loose"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Texarkana, TX
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    Post


    Howdy All --

    At 81 with 69 years with the bees, I'm still learning! We may appear to be a little
    reluctant, but we're just waiting for the smoke to clear and see if the new things really work. Example: Small cell size. Why
    don't the bees build this size?

    Doc

  6. #6
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    Jun 2002
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    parker county, tx
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    I think you have a point, but it's not as bad as it may seem. My beekeeping mentor is in his mid eighties, still runs his own business, is stubborn and has a reputation for being a bit of a character, but when I saw him in the bee yard, I was mesmerized. He absolutely loves his bees and the hobby. He's a different person when he is doing what he loves to do. He's not at all afraid of trying new things, and has tried them all except for the FGMO, as far as I know. He just finds the old familiar methods more comfortable and predictable I guess. I do think it's a particular type of person who is interested in beekeeping as a general rule. I see many of the same traits in my personality that I see in him. I just haven't had the time yet to fully develop my eccentricities, lol.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2002
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    I think you have a point, but it's not as bad as it may seem. My beekeeping mentor is in his mid eighties, still runs his own business, is stubborn and has a reputation for being a bit of a character, but when I saw him in the bee yard, I was mesmerized. He absolutely loves his bees and the hobby. He's a different person when he is doing what he loves to do. He's not at all afraid of trying new things, and has tried them all except for the FGMO, as far as I know. He just finds the old familiar methods more comfortable and predictable I guess. I do think it's a particular type of person who is interested in beekeeping as a general rule. I see many of the same traits in my personality that I see in him. I just haven't had the time yet to fully develop my eccentricities, lol.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    >Small cell size. Why
    don't the bees build this size?

    From my observation they do. If you let them. First regression letting them build what they want (blank starter strips, no foundation) I get about 5.15mm cells. Second regression I get about 4.9mm cells. Third regression I get about 4.8mm cells. Some are as small as 4.6mm. There are in the middle of the brood nest. The largest cells I find in the brood nest are about 5.2mm. But for honey I see as large as 6.6mm with most around 5.4mm to 6.0mm. The drone cells are about 6.0mm

    Everthing works if you let it.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2000
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    crown point, NY, USA
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    Post

    Joe Waggle from PA. Has been catching feral bees there and has found that bees do build cells in the small cell range 4.8 to 5.0 in there broodnest. He has pics of this on several of the yahoo beekeeping lists.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Grifton, NC
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    I am trying to tend my hive without any pesticides. The guys in my club keep asking me if I've done my Apistan strips yet, Terramycin, etc. I just quietly change the subject because I know I'm not going to change their minds. I'm planning to add 3-9 new hives this spring and I get all sorts of advice from guys who have done it the same way for years and have the same problems. I may not have any of the answers I need right now, but I doubt I'ff find them in "Conventional WIsdom."

  11. #11
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    May 2002
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    Danbury,Ct. USA
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    Post

    Back to old. "A generalization is a plateau for a tired mind." Meaning that old beekeepers probably come in all sizes an dispositions. I'm 70 and have a drug free apiary and did 3 experiments this winter. If a steady old hand at this game is still in it, he/she had to change a lot in recent years or they'd be beeless.

    Dickm

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
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    Post

    As Dickm points out, any beekeeper who hasn't been able to adapt to changes in the past couple of decades is no longer keeping bees. I don't think that beekeepers are any more set in their ways than any other group; in fact maybe less so. You get any group of old farts together, and you're going to observe the same kind of behavior, whether they're beekeepers, ham radio operators, photographers, or just a random group.

    Having a mentor is extremely important in getting started, but you have to take what everyone says with a grain of salt, including the information from your mentor.

  13. #13
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >I am trying to tend my hive without any pesticides.

    I hope you are monitoring for Varroa and doing something for them. FGMO, Small Cell, Oxalic Acid, Thymol or at least monitoring to see if you have an infestation. Otherwise, I can almost guarentee you will lose them eventually. They only way I know that is working without ANY treatments is small cell.

    >Back to old. "A generalization is a plateau for a tired mind." Meaning that old beekeepers probably come in all sizes an dispositions. I'm 70 and have a drug free apiary and did 3 experiments this winter. If a steady old hand at this game is still in it, he/she had to change a lot in recent years or they'd be beeless.

    I'd have to say the ONLY young men (I'll take that to mean from 13 to 35) I see at beekeepers meetings are there with their dads. Some "old" (I'll take that to mean from 50 to 80) beekeepers seem pretty excited to hear new ideas. Others just pooh pooh anything that isn't either what they did for the last 50 years or isn't the current "conventional" methods (apistan etc.) But the proportion isn't that different based on age, from my observation.

    Maybe one difference is just the "generation" and it's influence on their thinking. Those of use born in the fifties especially the early fifties, grew up to question most everything. Those born in the twenties, thirties and fourties are more likely to accept the "establishment's" method of doing things.

    It's just the differenct in the culture we grew up in.

    On the other hand I always thought I learned to question everything from my Dad and he was born in 1929.

  14. #14
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    Feb 2004
    Location
    winnipeg,Manitoba,Canada
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    Post

    Old Beekeepers? I have an older beekeeper in my club I think he’s 73 but he is highly respected in the beekeeping community! He is constantly doing studies with the University and has some of the healthiest bees in the province. His winter kill is next to nothing! He has very good stock and produces excellent nucs. I have had the pleasure of doing a study with him on New Zealand queens. You never stop learning!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Arnold, MD USA
    Posts
    48

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    I'm relatively new to bees, (three years). I think one should always be willing to listen to other's ideas, and maybe try new things. It's not just good beekeeing, it makes good sense. Most of the seasoned veterans I've spoken to have been very open minded to my ideas, and given me pros and cons to my management practices. I have found that once you think you know everything, you really just become unwilling to learn anything else. I hope that one day I will have enough experience with bees, to help someone the way others have helped me. I'm 35 yrs old, and can see myself keeping bees for another 30 years. The way science is moving in beekeeping, I'm sure that some things will be lot different in the future. i.e. genetics, mite control, bee behaviour, etc. Learning things about bees is what makes beekeeping so much fun!

  16. #16
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    Jun 2003
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    belews creek,nc
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    I agree with BeeBear that every young beekeeper should have a mentor. I guess that I would be considered young(41). The beekeeper that I ask a lot of questions is between 60 and 70. Yes, he still does some things the old way, but he also tries new ideas. He takes notes and makes comparisons. I think that the reason he changed was when he almost lost all his bees to the v-mites. I guess that one day I will be an old beekeeper. I just hope that I don't get set in my ways.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
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    I have 2 people which are working with me. One is my father that kept bees in boxes when he ran out of hives in the late 40s as he could not afford hives or have time to turn the trees into hives. The other is an old navy vet from WW2. Both think I am crazy for trying TBHs. Dad got rid of his hives instead of moving them south where the mites had already hit(81). He is knowledgable about genetics in plants and understands some of what I talk about with resistant bees. The old vet says do not buy any queen that are supose to be resistant because you will be wasting your money. The old vet has taught me a few things about keeping bees in this area and trapping swarms. He is stuck on using the strips for treating hives. That is why this site is so important to me.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Frankfort, Kentucky
    Posts
    399

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    Any idea how good it was receiving a phone call from my 97 year old grandmother in South Africa wishing me a happy birthday, and saying how she was looking forward to see us all in December? Boy, if we could all be so positive.

    I know that we have a desperate shortage of younger beekeepers in the US. I have been asked by the powers that be at Kentucky State University to find out how many students would be interested in pursuing a Bachelors or Masters Degrees program in Apiculture at KSU. Nothing is in place yet but we need to know what possible student numbers we would be looking at. KSU is an 1890 university and has a very successful Aquaculture program going at the present. http://www.ksuaquaculture.org

    Please mention this to young beekeepers looking in this direction.


    ------------------
    If a job is worth doing - Then do it well

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Sapulpa,OK USA
    Posts
    174

    Cool

    I just turned 26. I have been trying to learn beekeeping for a couple of years. I enjoy talking to some of the "Elders" (said w/ respect). Many that I know that has strong feelings about Apistan as the only way lost a lot of bees when the v-mites came through and they don't want to risk that experience again. But don't care if you try something else withyour bees.

  20. #20

    Post

    "I'd have to say the ONLY young men (I'll take that to mean from 13 to 35)"

    35 here for another few days...My initial mentor was a Brushy Mountain Video, then Garden Web, then magazines, then meetings. Now I rely on someone that has a lot of hives and has managed bees for years. He has asked me for for input, and I am sure if I had anything good to say he would listen to it. He is willing to try neew things.

    My follow-up question would be to ask if there are any large commercial operators of advanced age that still do things the way they were done 50 years ago.

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