With all the dissention between the various camps, it seems that we are neglecting to advise new keepers on the most important and basic things in beekeeping.
If we would quit arguing (debating) the merits of the treating verses not treating, the newbies might not have to sift through so much chaff to make informed decisions for themselves.
Maybe we could even cover the basics and not go down the to treat or not to treat road at all. How can anyone decide unless they can get to the point of knowing what is in their hives to begin with?
How many times of late have we seen the axioms?
“Take your losses early”?
“Combine your weak hives going into winter”
“Build up/feed in the fall to insure a strong hive in the spring”
“Re-queen in the fall”
“Restrict hive area to what the bees can defend”
“Insure adequate ventilation in the winter”
“Learn to identify the various pests and diseases so you can adjust appropriately”
“Correct queen issues immediately”
And many, many others. We are so caught up in proving our stance and standing our ground, that WE are the reason that so many new beekeepers fail.
I like Ralph, have read, studied, listened, considered huge amounts of beekeeping information and knowledge. I have listened to all sides, read studies, tried methods and succeeded and failed. I would venture to say that I have more “book learning” on bees than most that frequent this forum. Does that make me right, or wise, not at all. Book learning for beekeeping is about as good as any project plan, and that is good right up until you actually begin to execute it, then all bets are off.
The only real way to learn to keep bees is to do it. No amount of academics will prepare you for that first inspection. It will help, a lot, but it will not do the inspection for you. It will not slow your heart rate down when a dozen bees scramble over your ungloved hand. You will not know how you are going to react when you get that first sting, or stand in the middle of your first swarm. Nothing can prepare you for these things.
If you dismiss the advice of sage beekeepers, then you are foolish and insulting. You don’t have to take it or act upon it, but to dismiss or belittle it, simply shows your lack of maturity and wisdom. So many times in todays connected world, where we are really not connected at all, many feel that their newly acquired opinions and summations are as valid as a veteran's, and they are certainly not.
So many will fail without ever understanding why, just because they failed to listen, understand and apply good basic beekeeping practices.
Read all of Michal Bush’s website. You don’t need to apply even a third of it to become a somewhat successful hobby beekeeper. He covers the basics and that is what most new and many long time beekeepers need to learn. Best advice I ever took in beekeeping: “Run all mediums”. Best advice I never took: Run all 8 frame equipment. Worst advice I ever took: sugar dusting works well to control varroa. Worst advice I never took: Well, stating that here would start an argument, so I will refrain.
In closing this rant I will give this advice:
Leave the rest of the contentious debate to those that feel they need to derive some prestige by proving their position. I’ll bee keeping my bees and enjoying watching them come and go while having a cool drink with my beekeeping friends or chatting with them in the attached chat area.
Learn the basics and then worry about the subtleties.
For the veterans out there, lets get back to giving good sound basic beekeeping advice, it will eventually trump the bad. If it is made available then the newbie will only have themselves to blame for not taking it.
Cheers and good luck to all with your bees.