Belief in Beekeeping
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  1. #1
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    Default Belief in Beekeeping

    "If you think you can or you think you canít, you are right"--Henry Ford

    How does belief influence success?
    As soon as you talk about belief affecting results, there is an assumption by some that you are being unscientific and yet all the current research on the success or failure of computer projects or any projects in a business environment has established the fact that success or failure is dependent on "buy in" from the employees and from management. Anyone who has observed scientific research can see this effect as well. Whether you want to believe it or not, "buy in" is "belief". Believing it can work, and believing it needs to work. There seems to be a group that thinks that belief has nothing to do with or should have nothing to do with success or failure, but only the "facts". But all the way from "the little engine that could" to real life stories of success like Edison testing thousands of filaments to come up with a practical light bulb illustrate that belief is equally important to the success of any undertaking.

    Please, do not be confused by what I'm saying. I'm not saying that Edison could just "believe" any one of those filaments into working. But he had to believe that there was a filament that would work and that is what drove him to keep trying until he found one that would work.

    Cognitive Dissonance
    I think part of this is that you canít really operate well with a cognitive dissonance between what you are attempting to do and your view of the world. If you are attempting to do something that, in your view of the world, is impossible, it is very unlikely that you will succeed. If you believe there is a solution and you are focused on finding that solution within the framework of your view of the world, you will likely find something that will work. I did a page on "Beekeeping Philosophy" for that very reason. I think in order to succeed at beekeeping, you need to do your beekeeping in the framework of your beliefs.

    Itís all in the details.
    Success and failure of any venture is all in the details. And belief is what drives us to work out the details. I have said many times that I can prove most any controversial beekeeping question in either direction depending on what you want for an outcome. The reason it is controversial and the reason there are two directly opposing beliefs on so many subjects is exactly that--that success or failure is dependent, not on the underlying principle being discussed, but the surrounding circumstances. Someone whose experience was under one set of circumstances comes to one conclusion. Someone whose experience is under a very different set of circumstances comes to an entirely different conclusion.

    Example of details
    Letís take it out of the realm of beekeeping. Iíll try this two ways, the first is the way it actually happened. A friend called up to tell me that her pressure tank on her well pump was leaking and wanted to know what she should do. I said it was probably one spot in the tank that lost whatever rust proofing the inside of the tank had and it had rusted through. I said I would:
    o Buy a fine threaded self tapping oil plug.
    o Buy a bit exactly the size of the shaft (not the threads) of the plug or slightly smaller.
    o Buy some gasket sealer.
    o Drill out the rust spot.
    o Put gasket sealer on the plug.
    o Screw the plug in the hole.

    When I told her this, I was informed "we already tried that". So I went over and looked at her tank. There was a lag screw in the hole... and of course it was still leaking horribly. I then did exactly as I had instructed and fixed it. It lasted at least five or six years after that.
    Now letís try the other way. I also could have just told her to put a bolt in it. It would have been technically correct, but lacking in the details that would actually make it work. But since she ignored the details anyway, I guess it would have worked exactly as poorly. But now letís look at this another way. Why did my "put a bolt in it" work and hers did not? Because I did everything I could to stack the deck in favor of success. Why? Because I believed it could work and therefore I made the effort to make it work. I did not do a halfhearted "weíll try it and see". I went at it from the start with the belief and expectation of succeeding and then doing whatever I could to make what I believed could happen, happen. Then, even if that had failed, I had several backup plans (one of which I used and again succeeded with years later when the threads finally rusted out on that fix).

    My point is that "buy in" i.e. "belief" has everything to do with success. Now I will grant that however much she might have believed that lag bolt would stop the leak (and I donít think she really did), it never would have. But if she had focused on how to make it work, she might have succeeded by tweaking the details of the idea to optimize its chances of success and finally made it work. That tweaking of course improves with experience and sometimes it takes some experimenting to find the right details (Edison and his thousands of filaments). But you can also improve it a lot by listening to someone who has done it before (I've fixed rusted out holes in tanks for decades now and thatís how I knew what would have a good chance of working). The same is true of beekeeping.

    "People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."--George Bernard Shaw

    Rather than work the details out yourself, learn from someone who already has.

    Part of belief leading to success is that it gives you the drive to, not just give something a cursory try, but to work out the details. And this brings me to another point of frustration for me. That almost every time someone does an experiment on virtually anything they donít bother to find someone succeeding and ask them about the details before they set up an experiment to prove it doesn't work. Pretty much if you don't believe in it, it probably isn't going to work because you won't make it work. Why not find someone who is succeeding and study them to figure out if it works and then why it works. At that point you will believe it works (because you have observed it) and have an idea how to make it work by copying someone who has succeeded. For instance, if you want to know something about natural cell size why not talk to someone with hundreds of hives with natural comb in them rather than blunder out on your own? What size the bees build depends on a lot of different things like the time of year, the intended use for the comb etc. So again, I say I can probably get you whatever results you would like because I know what affects it and I can set the stage to get what you want, in this case, larger or smaller.

    You canít get the right answer when you are asking the wrong question.

    One of the things I loved in "I Robot" was how often the hologram that is talking to Will Smith says "I'm sorry. My responses are limited. You must ask the right questions." Anytime your question is vague or your criteria are vague your results will be meaningless. Letís try a simple mistake I made myself. When I started out beekeeping, I was too poor to buy any books and a lot of the ones at the library were old ones like Doolittle and Miller. One of the concepts in those books was "abandonment" as a means of clearing the supers. I was inexperienced and oblivious to when the flows were and when I tried the method, it turned into an unmitigated disaster. Robbing escalated to scary and out of control in a matter of minutes and I fought robbing for weeks after. I was never going to do that again. Rather than believe their might be some value to this method I gave it a one time try and gave it up.

    Then I ran into someone who used the method all the time and when I shared my experience they told me it needs to be done in a flow. Never in a dearth. Now that gap between my experience and what was in the book suddenly closed. I could see how someone would think it was a good method and yet my experience was exactly the opposite. So if my question is just "does the abandonment method work well for clearing supers", I have not asked the right question. It is too vague and my results will not be useful, as other people's results will vary greatly from mine depending on other factors that are not taken into account in my question. I may come to a very distinct and obvious conclusion that is very incorrect. Faith in C.C. Miller or the method might have driven me to ask the right question rather than give up. There are probably two questions I need to answer on the issue of abandonment, in order for my answer to have any meaning:

    o "does the abandonment method work well for clearing supers in a dearth"
    o "does the abandonment method work well for clearing supers in a flow"
    (By the way, most beekeeping questions should be asked either about "in a flow" and in a "dearth" or in the "buildup" or in the "wind down".)

    If I didn't know enough to formulate those questions based on the fact that currently there are such opposing views on the subject then the question should have been:

    o "under what circumstances does the abandonment method work well for clearing supers and under what circumstances does it fail"

    Then I might end up with a useful answer instead of a meaningless one. In my experience, people often end up with an answer that is not useful because they are asking the wrong question.

    "All models are wrong, but some are useful" --George E.P. Box

    Paradigm vs Reality
    So letís tie this back to our "model of the world". Reality is infinitely complex and none of us can actually grasp it, so to solve problems we distill it down to some simplified "model" that we believe includes all the relevant issues. This "model" is the paradigm by which we solve the problem. Letís try a simple practical model. My dad always told me that what it takes to make an internal combustion engine run is: gas, air and spark. If you have these three it should start. This worked most of my life most of the time, until the problem was a jumped timing chain. At that point I had to expand my "model", my "paradigm" to include timing. I need gas air spark and correct timing. Then when you have a small single piston engine with a broken ring or a bad valve, you may have to expand it to include "compression". Now there are many other things taking place, but thatís not the point. The point is we build a model just complex enough to solve the problem because we canít take everything into account. This particular model is just on how to get it to start. After that there are other paradigms on how to make it run well. Sometimes we find our paradigm is inadequate for the job and we need to adjust it. Our "model of the world" is never "right", itís never "true"--itís just useful or not useful for the problem at hand. But conversely if we try to solve a problem in a way that is at odds with our model of the world (our personal belief system) we donít really know how to tweak the details to make it work because we are outside the bounds of our paradigm in the unknown. Unless we adjust our paradigm, we probably canít make a solution work that is at odds with our model. In other words if we don't believe in our model we probably can't work out the details of the solution.

    I had a boss once who theorized that everyone thinks their idea is best because they thought of it. He didn't mean it facetiously, the reason they thought of it is because they used their model of the world to come up with it, and the reason they like it best, is because it is in harmony with their model of the world. Their solution makes sense to them because they arrived at it within that framework. The reason it has a decent chance of success for that person is also that they know how to work in that framework and they have "buy in" to the idea. They "believe" in it because it fits how they think.

    Succeeding at anything is much more likely if you are working within your belief system.

    Succeeding at anything is also much more likely if you are determined to figure out how to make it work.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    The psychological side works for a lot of people. Sometimes disbelief leads to questioning that reveals the truth. Other times no belief allows one to observe what is really going on when false theories in one's head would have lead further up the wrong path.

    The process of hypothesizing makes the jump from no belief to "Does this make sense?" and developing experimental methods to test hypotheses.

    The bees keep on chugging along despite our hypothesizing, believing, interfering / helping, etc. They do appear to like to live in enclosures. Some hive designs have ardent supporters. Do bees care? The results in pounds of honey harvested, # of colonies produced, etc. may or may not be the whole story.

    I like your approach to beekeeping, Michael. I also like Randy Oliver's inquisitive approach. These approaches probably have some differences, and I try and learn, and see what my bees seem to "think" about this topic or that.

    If I believe anything, its that Beesource and a 40 year mentor seem to make me a better beekeeper. I sure appreciate your many posts and contributions here on Beesource! Thank you.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 10-07-2015 at 10:28 PM.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Personally I "buy in" to proven methods. React on reason, not emotion. I don't want be a backyard hobbiest, I want go big. I love this stuff! Proven methods like yours and Palmers deserve "both" ears! Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Do what's proven to work!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Gazelle View Post
    Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Do what's proven to work!
    How are those chiseled stone wheels holding up on your fancy transportation machine?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    "both ears", i like that.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    This is a favorite Ray Bradbury short story on the subject:
    http://205.186.130.127/images/upload...20Bradbury.pdf
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me
    Other times I can barely see. -The Grateful Dead

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Some interesting analogies but analogies have their own problems. Many times they amount to a dumbed down method of influencing people on issues a bit over their pay scale. I fully agree with the power of positive thinking and it certainly can be key to uniting activity when that is the controlling element that is lacking. That said, I have been party to decision making where unbridled enthusiasm was about to send things on a calamitous path. A lot of my experience has been in industrial piping, rigging, excavation etc. Clear chain of cause and effect must be kept in mind. Opinion must be supported by load charts, safety regulation and precidents. Hard analytical examination of issues and darn little subjective opinion there. Strength of conviction does not relate to the probability of being correct.

    I might have been amongst the crowd that was addressed as "Oh ye of little faith"
    Frank

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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Another historical example (Mike Palmer will like this one).

    If you are familiar with Gershwin's 'rhapsody in blue'...especially the opening of the piece. It is a clarinet doing a long, multi octave glissando (sliding pitch) (low G trill to high C if there are any clarinetists in the house). This was not part of Gershwin's vision for the piece...it was tacked on at the last minute.

    Glissandos on clarinet were doubtless common from the vaudville scene, but in concert performance situations, it was unheard of (the clarinet world can be a bit crusty...even vibrato is pretty controversial)...considered impossible.
    ...but the premier was being played by Paul Whiteman's Jazz Orchestra....and Gershwin heard the clarinetist performing this 'stunt' in warm up...it was so impressive (and done well enough) that he featured it in the piece...it stands out more than anything else.

    Before this, no self respecting classical clarinet would even play around with such uncouth sound effects. Now, with rhapsody in blue being part of the popular playlist, even if just for this piece, glissandos are a required skill...but considered impossible before there was a demand (poplular literature) for the 'stunt'.
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me
    Other times I can barely see. -The Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    This is a favorite Ray Bradbury short story on the subject:
    http://205.186.130.127/images/upload...20Bradbury.pdf
    I enjoyed that. Thank you.

    As far as the OP and all the other stuff goes... I believe that if your mites are under control and your bees have something to eat you'll be OK about 90% of the time. The rest is bluster.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    I try to believe my bees will handle the mites on their own, must not have enough willpower to make it happen yet....

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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    How are those chiseled stone wheels holding up on your fancy transportation machine?
    I'm not an inventer. I'll use proven methods.

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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    I'm not buying it.
    Any of it.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Succeeding at anything is also much more likely if you are determined to figure out how to make it work.
    Speaking as one who built his house against a good deal of skepticism (it is a straw bale home with a black water wetland that cleanly processes all our waste water), I will most readily second this sentiment. If necessity is the mother of invention, then determination is the father.

    John

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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Faith based beekeeping is nothing I can "Buy Into".

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    My bees don't care what I believe.

  17. #16

    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Tell people what they want to hear and they'll buy into it...full bore.
    Sells books. Political campaigns depend on it. Many people will pay to hear the message. Doesn't mean it has a stitch of merit to it.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    >I try to believe my bees will handle the mites on their own, must not have enough willpower to make it happen yet....

    Then you have missed the entire point. My point isn't that just believing without action changes anything. Believing changes the way you approach it and what you end up doing. Belief is the reason that you work out the details and figure out how to make it work. The first thousand or so filaments that Edison tried did not work well enough no matter how much Edison believed it was possible to make a usable light bulb. But his belief that it was possible is WHY he bothered to try those until he found one that DID work. In the story, believing he can get up the hill is not what got "The Little Engine That Could" up the hill. Believing and WORKING for all he was worth did. The point of that story, and the reason it resonates with people, is that believing was an essential part of what it took. Work alone was not sufficient.
    Last edited by Michael Bush; 10-07-2015 at 02:27 PM. Reason: clarity
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >I try to believe my bees will handle the mites on their own, must not have enough willpower to make it happen yet....

    Then you have missed the entire point. My point isn't that just believing without action changes anything. Believing changes the way you approach it and what you end up doing. Belief is the reason that you work out the details and figure out how to make it work. The first thousand or so filaments that Edison tried did not work well enough no matter how much Edison believed it was possible to make a usable light bulb. But his belief that it was possible is WHY he bothered to try those until he found one that DID work. In the story, believing he can get up the hill is not what got "The Little Engine That Could" up the hill. Believing and WORKING for all he was worth did. The point of that story, and the reason it resonates with people, is that believing was an essential part of what it took. Work alone was not sufficient.
    I got that from the original post. The belief in the idea is what motivates one to continue trying. I'll buy that.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    Can work if the belief is correct. The self help industry doesn't always properly get across the need for belief, commitment, and drive, to be based on reality. There are some who crash and burn because of that.

    As it relates to beekeeping, my approach is analytical, the bees have shown me what I should believe. Like many new beekeepers I started out with certain pre formed beliefs, and believing didn't make it happen I had to modify my beliefs.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Belief in Beekeeping

    I knew it was a risk to say this and that certain people would take things out of context and that most people would not bother to figure out my point. Instead they jump to their own conclusions about what I said without listening to what I said. This is clear by many of the above posts. Hopefully some of you will actually try to see my point.

    I am NOT saying that you can merely believe your way to anything. I'm NOT saying that faith by itself is the solution to anything. The point is that to make something work, you have to believe that it is POSSIBLE to make it work. And then you have to figure out the DETAILS that are REQUIRED to make it work, by expanding your paradigm to include those details as you discover them. And then you have to work your behind off to MAKE it work. The point is that belief changes your actions and motivates you to figure out and deal with the details THAT, in addition to work, makes the difference between success and failure. Reality is complicated and you need the motivation that belief provides to work through the details.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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