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  1. #1
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    Default Is Beekeeping broke?

    I constantly hear people argue various beekeeping practices saying how can it be wrong, beekeepers have been doing it for X number of years.

    This evokes the sacred law of "If it ain't broke don't fix it"

    With the constant battle against Varroa mites, systemic pesticides, aging number of commercial beekeepers, CCD... the list goes on, I would argue that beekeeping is broken.

    Even when it comes to a topic such as overwintering, a beekeeper is happy if 50-70% of their hives make it (in my region). There is room for improvement. Technology is allowing us to monitor much more inside a hive, who knows what we can learn. People may argue that science and technology have done a lot to hurt beekeeping, but please don't confuse gained knowledge with how people have chose to use it. (I'm not necessarily advocating wires and batteries in hives, just don't hate on research and ideas.)

    The main argument I have with this reasoning is how stagnant it is. I believe we should always be striving to improve, and I hope you all do to. The world around us is constantly changing. Beekeeping experiences new challenges and scientific breakthroughs every year. If you are not adapting your beekeeping practices and staying up to date with the latest research, beekeeping may not have a place in the future.
    Last edited by Joes_bees; 11-06-2012 at 10:13 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    Many beekeepers keep abreast of new ideas and research…I’d like to think I’m in that category. If this thread was initiated by the screened bottom board thread, I’d like to point out that:
    I looked at the research. Early studies suggested up to a 15% reduction in mite loads. Follow up studies had mixed results.

    I tried them myself and couldn’t see any difference in mite loads but did note that small hive beetles were able to easily escape through the screen and return at another opportunity plus….shb larvae have an easy transit to the soil to pupate.

    And last but not least….the argument that they reduce summertime bearding. I really don’t see bearding as a problem needing to be fixed. It is a normal behavior that allows bees who don’t have inside duties to remain outside and not add biological heat to the nest. A non-issue.

    My point is…in my opinion, many beekeepers jump on the latest fad whether it is genuinely useful or simply a ‘feel good’ thing
    .
    Change for the sake of change serves no purpose.

    And…if it ain’t broke don’t fix it has a legitimate place in beekeeping.

    On the other hand where problems exist….to keep doing things the same way will perpetuate those problems.

    Which of these applies will be argued amongst beekeepers but as long as the arguments remain civil…it is a normal process.

    Is beekeeping broke? I don't think so.
    Is there room for improvement? Of course.
    Are we likely to disagree along the way? Probably.

    For the attentive beekeeper….there’s nothing stagnant in beekeeping.
    Last edited by beemandan; 11-06-2012 at 10:41 AM.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    Nice post Dan.

    I suggest to all new beekeepers I instruct that beekeeping is a blend of "art and science". Note I didn't say definitive science, since definitive studies are hard to come by simply due the enormous number of variables present in biological studies. That doesn't imply that all published results are junk, but should be viewed as something that may or may not help with your hives in your local conditions, using your beekeeping practices. The "art" part of course also leads to enormous confusion as well, this sprinkled with a healthy dose of ego and we're off to the races. I believe that experimentation is healthy, but beware of making definitive statements based upon these experiments.

    SBB...I have my own theories, but I'll save them for a cold winter's post.
    Last edited by AstroBee; 11-07-2012 at 08:04 AM. Reason: typo

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    First of all Beemandan, I think we share very similar opinions on screened bottom boards and change for the sake of change. That isn't the point of my argument.

    My point is at one point the Langstroth hive was viewed as a fad. Keeping bees in a skep or a log had withstood the test of time for much longer than our modern hive. What changed was milling technology, the invention of power tools, etc.

    Using time as a criteria for what is best isn't always true. Common sense and or ability as humans to think critically of things needs to be the basis of our beekeeping practices. Trial and error seems to be the primary method of research with beekeepers. The majority of conversations on these boards is people "trying" a thing and people responding "I already tried that, didn't work well".

    I want to encourage people to respond with more reasoning and explanations. I think this will provide beekeepers a better understanding of why things work and what is right for their region.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    I apologize, I think I committed a major crime in forum etiquette. I knew I wanted to say something but feel I didn't fully understand the point I wanted to make.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joes_bees View Post
    I apologize, I think I committed a major crime in forum etiquette.
    Short of name calling or general incivility, I don't think there is such a thing as a major crime in forum etiquette. I surely hope there wasn't anything in my post to give you that idea.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    I don't think the Lang hive was a fad when it was developed, it came into being for a purpose which was to make commercial beekeeping possible. Up till that time beekeeping was not much more than a hobby for those involved in it. John

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    I don't think the Lang hive was a fad when it was developed,
    It is easy for us to say with twenty-twenty hindsight...but I bet in it's infancy it was derided by many and was only accepted after convincingly proving its worth. There will always be those who say 'I've been doing it my way forever....and I ain't gonna change.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    No Beemandan, I'm just being hard on myself for not getting to the point. The posts I remember reading of yours are great, you just struck a nerve and I'm sorry it seemed to target you.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    beemandan, in the book "America's Master of Bee Culture, The Life of L.L. Langstroth" it clearly states his purpose in developing the moveable frame hive, it wasn't by accident that it came to be the way it is. So, its not with 20/20 hindsight that I made that statement about it not being a fad, if that's what you're getting at. John

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    it's still being derided by many. Jump on any top bar hive website. "The Langstroth is a honey factory, bad for bees designed for beekeepers". Of course it was not universally accepted as a good solution in its infancy. Many people would lump commercial beekeeping in that category as well.

    I don't really care to point fingers or start another discussion on top bar vs. frames.

    As Astrobee said, beekeeping is both a science and an art. Keep a healthy balance.

    You can try and sculpt a statue with ideas, and trial and error or you can learn a fundamental understanding of the laws of physics and save a lot of headache and wasted materials.
    Last edited by Joes_bees; 11-06-2012 at 12:09 PM. Reason: grammars

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joes_bees View Post
    I want to encourage people to respond with more reasoning and explanations. I think this will provide beekeepers a better understanding of why things work and what is right for their region.
    Writing skills are different than doing skills. A good writer can dream up a procedure that sounds perfect but doesn't really work. A doer can perform a procedure that works flawlessly but can't express himself so the writer can understand what he is doing.

    There will always be a certain amount of disagreements and confusion in any public forum. It's natural.
    I use a Lang hive with screen bottom boards because I can see what drops out of the hive. It is convenient for me. This year I will see what happens with these screens wide open along with upper entrances. Regardless of what happens there are so many variables that can sway the results nothing is definitive.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    Hi all,
    I was recently commenting to a friend that new ideas seem to meet a lot of resistance in beekeeping and he pointed out that this is true of most things. " Don't worry about people stealing your good ideas, if your ideas are any good you'll have to ram them down peoples throats".
    Cheers,
    Drew
    p.s. my screened bottom cannot be accessed except through entrance, ( 1.5" pvc wrapped w/ sticky tape). Oil tray underneath, found it very helpful in SHB control.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    it wasn't by accident that it came to be the way it is.
    I understand that Langstroth based his design on observed bee behavior and I wasn't making a comment on you. I was only pointing out that when it was first introduced, no matter how effective it actually was, there would surely have been many who believed it a fad. Today (with OUR twenty-twenty hindsight), it is easy for us to recognize the genius of his design.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    As you said, we are on a public forum, so writing skills matter. (I guess you can upload pictures)

    A doer can do the same thing for years and years, but when the rug is pulled out from under them and what they've been doing doesn't work anymore, they become readers and you better hope the person who figured out how to do the new thing knows how to write.

    Beekeeping does have a lot of variables. I think you underestimate just how powerful the information age is. For example check out some of the surveys conducted by http://beeinformed.org/

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    I'm open to new ideas in beekeeping as long as they involve less work and increase production. John

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    how about if they involve more work, less production, and there are still bees for future generations to keep?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    If that's the way it has to be, I'm fine with that too. John

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    My impression is that the "science" is compromised in the view of majority of beekeepers at beesource. Most of the people are skeptical about science. I think, there is a huge misunderstanding what is science? I could not speak for everybody, but my opinion on this matter as following:
    - "trial-and-error" is not a science! Well, it is stone-age "science"...
    - In my opinion, science is when it is able to predict something based on incomplete data. We collect data using many different approaches including "trial-and-error". Based on data we create a theory how thing works. Than we tested our theory to see if theory properly described how thing works. Once theory is established, we would try to use it to predict its outcome in the real situation when we do not know the answer. If theory works properly and may be used in practical life - to me, this is a celebration of true Science!
    - unfortunatelly, there is not much real science in beekeeping. Most of the "scientific" articles I've read are just data-collection. They just presented some observation without any "theory" how this observation may help to understand/improve something. Like, they observed the pesticides accumulation in the wax, but in most cases, there is no study how to mitigate the issue. Well, the most "scientific"conclusion was - "do not use pesticides!" In my opinion, it is very primitive approach. When people read such stuff, no surprise, they are skeptical about science!
    - true science is fueled by curiosity: "why thing works this way?" It seems to me that modern society is less-and-less interested in "how thing works?" It is interested in consumption of the final "product" (it is literate with honey) not thinking who and how the product has been created. No curiosity - no science, really.
    - based on my interaction with beesource, I have to conclude (scientific approach!), that most people are reluctant to make efforts to understand things (related to bees or other) even when information is available, to make an educated decision. Than, uneducated decision took place...

    I apologize for my opinion - nothing personal.
    Sergey
    Last edited by cerezha; 11-06-2012 at 04:51 PM. Reason: ESL
    Серёжа, Sergey

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Is Beekeeping broke?

    I am the first to argue that beekeeping is never stagnant. Never has been..... never will be. We as beekeepers are constantly striving to better serve our hobby and our beloved bees that gives us.... well.... everything they have.
    There are going to be tried and true methodology that is a constant, but improvements are being thought of if not implemented daily. The list of which can go on forever.
    I will however concede that there are some "dyed in the wool" beekeepers that will not accept or implement change due to the fact they have always done it a certain way and are comfortable doing so.

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