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“Commercial” Beekeeper

Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 15:33:02 -0700
From: Andy Nachbar
Subject: Re: second hand equipment

>> While the answers received here so far are typical of advice given by
>> amateurs, and also what most of the the books recommend, they
>> are not in line with what most commercial beekeepers in North
>> America know to be true.

>> hope that the voice of “amateurs”, especially when the “books”
>> agree with them, not be so quickly dismissed. I have noted that
>> after I post a message there is quite a bit of off list traffic , some
>> with excellent informtion which should have gone on the list, but
>> the sender would not think of it because of the response they get.
>> Lets keep this an open forum and a little more “poster friendly”,
>> especially for us amateurs.
>> xxxx xxxxxxxxx

Well, xxxx, sorry that some would polarize any beekeeping group, but as a life long commercial beekeeper, one who has never had a real job I might say, I take exception to what some are reading into others post in this list as I personally have seen only constructive help from the few in this list that I can identify as “commercial”. I for one enjoy the posts of all and do pay the highest respects to any other “commercial” beekeepers who takes the time to post to these groups as much of what we read is old hat to us but we stick in there and at times do add constructive information to the treads.

Some of us are for sure more experienced posters and we do use that
experience to our advantage when we feel the need, but anyone who reads this list or the beekeeping news group can gain that same experience and as far as I have read are welcome to jump in anytime they feel ready. Sure you will get stepped on by others that’s the nature of this beast, but has nothing to do with being a “commercial” beekeeper.

One problem that is common for all posters is the old idea that is as true today as when first advanced, “until you walk in my shoes….you can not feel my pain.” This is more true for beekeeping and beekeepers then any other commodity group I can think of. A few miles can make all the difference in the world in how bees are managed and the success with them, and I really respect the person who thinks he can learn it all from a book, or many books, I have for years been encouraged to write books myself, for some a good way to supplement their income, I read them all myself, but know that even with my own 40+ years experience bent over a hive with that hot smoker between my legs I do not know it all and continue to learn from my own everyday experiences and those of others. For sure there is a big difference in keeping bees for the fun of it, or the observation of them, and having bees to keep oneself at a middle class existence. It is not easy being a commercial beekeeper and for sure there are some rules that differ from area to area, but in general if any beekeeper follows in the foot steps of his neighboring commercial beekeeper he will learn much that can be used to make his own experience more rewarding with any number of bees.

I am always somewhat amused by questions on “how do I get to be a
commercial beekeeper?”. I have seen many try to do it the way that most would think normal, by buying in, but I can tell you from the sad experience of many that this is one way to guarantee a 99% failure rate and the loss of some big bucks.

The best way is to be born into a beekeeping family, but this is not always possible, so the 2nd best way is to merry into a beekeeping family, but this also is limited, some have tried the old mathematical method of doubling each year, but never seem to reach their goals, so what’s left? Well as far as I am concerned the only real way that assures those who follow this route with a fair chance at success is by doing some hard time as a beekeepers apprentice and the earlier one starts the higher the potential for success. This route is also limited but the one that most successful beekeepers have followed if not born or married into beekeeping and one that you will not see mentioned in the majority of todays bee books, sadly. OH, I did not mention the role of higher education in commercial beekeeping and it does play one, but oh so very small, and no one that I have every known about who has the education and not the beekeeping apprentice experience has gone out directly into commercial beekeeping, but then I don’t know everyone and I am sure to every point I have made there are exceptions, and they are just that..

My point is that in this group there are those who dream of becoming more then a hobby beekeeper, and those who are dependent on commercial beekeepers for the volume of honey they produce, the crops they can pollinate, and so on, it should be clear to all that nothing should be done to discourage commercial beekeepers from this group as they are a rare breed indeed, and more should be done to encourage their participation so if any disagree with what some off the wall commercial beekeeper posts then ask for clarification. I know what Allen was saying so I did not ask and would not have written this much if I did see some attempt to read into his posts something that I am sure was not there…

ttul, the OLd Drone

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