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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, let me say I am a new beekeeper myself, going into my fourth year now. I've noticed a lot of new beekeepers in my town. Many people seem to want to add a hive in the same way that lots of people got chickens a few years ago.

Bees seem to be seen as a low stakes, low maintenance alternative to chickens or a koi pond. I was listenting to "On Point" and it made it seem as if keeping bees were as simple as dumping them in a box and feeding them once in a while, and that we well meaning person just had to have a curious nature to keep them going.

I think most people here know keeping bees alive is a bit of a challenge, and that you get stung. I think there's suddenly a lot of unmanaged hives out there. My concern is that these will become a reserve for diseases like AFB. After people get stung a few times or find it hot in their "bee uniform" they just turn them into "survivor hives".

Let me say also, that I am a motorcycle safety instructor. Lots of people take the class, but I am not sure how many are riding a year later. I always think, wait until the first time you have to merge into moving traffic on the highway. I think that there are few people equipped to deal with the realities of motorcycling or beekeeping.

Since we now have 20 hives and I've been keeping bees alive for more than a year I have started to get calls from people with problems. I have seen some pretty crazy management techniques and some faltering hives that are just begging catch something and then get robbed out.

Combine this with an "urban beekeeping" arrangement where lots of new beekeepers are packed together, each with a few hives, and you have a recipe for contagion.

Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge everyone chance to start up and I applaud those that make an effort, I am just wondering what this "buzz about beekeeping" all means.
 

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well said and a valid concern TAX, similar concerns have been voiced on other threads. I see the same problems and lack of managment here in the very populated central Fl area. I get a lot of calls from local hobbyists who have questions and need help, or are looking for bees and equipment. That being said i always explain to them this is not a "drop em in a box and harvest honey" hobby, its hands on, frustrating, and at times painful.. and with out proper management they are most likely wasting their money and even worse as you pointed out may infect other bees/beeks with their problems, pathogens, mites, and beetles. I believe education is the key, keep educating.
 

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Amen peacekeeper. Education is the best protection against almost everything. If everyone had as much knowledgeas they could get about bees, bee diseases and pests and the potential problems that we may face w/ Tropilaelaps clareae coming into our country from places we now get queens and packages, hopefully we would see the borders closed to such importations.

The more the merrier. It will always be a mixed blessing, depending on where you sit or stand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I believe education is the key, keep educating.
This, I think, is a large part of the problem. Folks are picking up "alternative" techniques before they understand basic beekeeping as outlined by Roger Morse, for example.

The new breed of beekeeper is college bred and wants to have some super solution to the problems we all have been facing down for years. So, without really understanding the mechanics of the hive from practical experience the experimenting starts.

The debate about small cell foundation, for example, is something useful in the community. I don't, however, think it's all that appropriate for someone to be puzzling that out at the same time as they are trying to lift a new colony off in New England spring. There are plenty of variables just trying to get going.
 

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Is this like wanting to ride your bike full speed - only you still need those training wheels?

Excellent Points - What sort of language have you found successful in talking with people interested in getting into the hobby? As one of the organizers of my club's bee school I wonder about this a lot. Getting into the hobby and buying new equipment along with a nuc is expensive. I understand when people are intrigued by the idea of a top bar hive that they can build themselves...

I think the interest in bees is a good thing. Encouraging people to use their club as a source for mentors and to encourage them to keep hives with a friend (co-locating multiple hives) so as to compare/contrast differences in development is also a good thing.

This is a good thread to have before planning for school gets serious!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Is this like wanting to ride your bike full speed - only you still need those training wheels?
Ahh, they still need the training wheels, but they are attaching a sail.


Excellent Points - What sort of language have you found successful in talking with people interested in getting into the hobby?
I strongly encourage people to read Roger Morse and Richard Bonney. These authors, IMHO, "wrote the book" on beekeeping. Though they didn't really write into the varroa era, they did write very complete and understandable texts in the "modern era".

In some ways I see people after they have problems, so they are "more willing" to take some advice.

My sister wanted to keep bees and I told her that at four years I was beginning to get a handle on it. I also said I'd read more than a dozen books over the winter. Like all very rewarding things, it's complicated and takes a lot of effort. She decided that she didn't want to keep bees after that.

Personally, I was a field operations manager for a 1600 acre farm, I understand that agriculture doesn't wait for you to get back from the beach. It takes advanced planning and thought.

I am not seeing beekeeping shown in this light.

I think it's great that folks want to be "connected to their food". I just want people to succeed.

Encouraging people to use their club as a source for mentors and to encourage them to keep hives with a friend (co-locating multiple hives) so as to compare/contrast differences in development is also a good thing.
This is super critical. I don't think you can learn beekeeping on the internet. This, I think, is a large part of the mistake. The internet gives you false confidence. It's a great place to help you pick out the "best" Gore-Tex raincoat, but a lousy place to learn something as complex and variable as beekeeping.

Beesource, is very good at helping me pick x or y, but it's terrible for learning "how to I keep bees".


This is a good thread to have before planning for school gets serious!
Schools are awesome. I went to a school and then joined my local club. Hearing advanced beekeepers talk monthly about what was happening locally was critical to me making it this far. I still learn the most from being around my betters.
 

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I think most people here know keeping bees alive is a bit of a challenge, and that you get stung. I think there's suddenly a lot of unmanaged hives out there.
Is that a real concern?

I've heard that said more than once. It may be true but I don't know of any cases of it. Most newbies get out of the hobby when their bees die , and around here, it is more than likely due starvation or poorly mated package queens. It would seem that the ones who give up after getting stung once (if there are any) would just as soon have their bees, hives and all removed from their midst.

There are a lot of unmanaged colonies out there. They are the wild colonies propagated by swarming. I see them as a genetic reserve and source of future captive hives, not too much as a foulbrood threat. Maybe because foulbrood is not much of a threat here, I am not concerned.

Wayne
 

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Maybe it isn't a concern, I don't know.

I have seen another pattern though, where folks lose interest in keeping when they get hot, or it's just not exciting anymore.

A man came by the other day and told me he'd killed 8 packages in two years, and he'd never had one make it through the winter.

I think there is something critically different about feral colonies and unmanaged captive colonies. Wild colonies make their own management decisions and they are not going to make kind of mistakes someone manipulating colonies will.

Feral colonies will also space themselves pretty widely. I have no control over my neighbors management practice. For all intents and purposes, town is one big apiary with every practice, from best to worst.
 

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Overall, I think it's good news. Awareness is important and new beekeepers are somewhat more enlightened to what bees are all about and the role they play in our world. I'll take that anytime. I am concerned that some adopt it as a hobby or even as a fad. They are the ones that need to have honey so as to provide proof of their "beekeeping" skills. Or they expect success with virtually no effort, as you alluded to. However, these people exist anyway and they'll exercise their approach in beekeeping, motorcycling, home-building, fishing.....you name it. I teach hunter education in MA., and those are the people that insist they will learn nothing and quickly prove themselves wrong. I wish some beekeepers weren't so topical but I'm still happy to have them on board.

I'm not sure that all beekeepers deserve their bees and I'm positive that not all bees deserve their beekeepers but I'll work hard to help everyone. Bees are worth it.
 

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The important thing is to emphasize education of bee behavior and bee biology, then management and methods can be accommodated as they go.

enjoy the bees

Big Bear
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Overall, I think it's good news. Awareness is important and new beekeepers are somewhat more enlightened to what bees are all about and the role they play in our world. I'll take that anytime.
This is a good thing, without a doubt.

I am concerned that some adopt it as a hobby or even as a fad. They are the ones that need to have honey so as to provide proof of their "beekeeping" skills. Or they expect success with virtually no effort, as you alluded to. However, these people exist anyway and they'll exercise their approach in beekeeping, motorcycling, home-building, fishing.....you name it. I teach hunter education in MA., and those are the people that insist they will learn nothing and quickly prove themselves wrong. I wish some beekeepers weren't so topical but I'm still happy to have them on board.

I'm not sure that all beekeepers deserve their bees and I'm positive that not all bees deserve their beekeepers but I'll work hard to help everyone. Bees are worth it.
Bees are worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good to see the old "my way or the highway" beekeeping club is still going strong and making generalized assumptions about methods and people ho use those methods that don't 'fit in'.
This wasn't my intent at all. I tried to be very careful about how I expressed my concern, but apparently, not careful enough.

I guess my thought is that there's a sea change in beekeeping, that lots and lots of people are entering the "hobby" right now. They are entering it in a way that's going to change things, for the better or worse.

There are a number of factors that link these newcomers together. In the average though, you wind up with a lot of variable hive management techniques in a small area with many of them likely failing. From an epidemiological standpoint I have to wonder what that means.

What's happening here is new base map of bee keeping. I am part of that. I live in town, I keep bees in town. I am just saying that from a basic standpoint how many bees are kept is changing.

Maybe this is for the better, who knows? It's pretty obvious that that the big, big problems like mites and CCD came under the watch of the large commercial bee keepers. So, in light of that, we can't do much worse, or can we?
 

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I think the common quote is "90%" of feral bees have died out due to CCD.
How many backyard hives would it take to recover from that?
I don't think we have come close to replenishing the "normal" bee population.
I also don't think feral bee colonies would have been less prone to infestations
then backyard colonies.

I'm not criticizing the thread, I love this kind of discussion.
I just don't think there is anything to worry about, except maybe more competition for that wild flower pollen and nectar.

Stan
 

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I am a 1st year bee keeper. You could even say I am still at the bee haver stage. I thought long and hard before starting. I read books and talked to everyone I could find, I took a short course from a bee keepers assoc. I looked at top bar hives as a way to try to keep costs down but I ended up with 2 langs and plan to add the TBH next year. I took a serious look at the investment required before starting. I lost one package to absconding right off the bat. the result of all this is that i am as comitted as ever to keeping bees. I do not think I am the exception but rather average in my approach. Lets try not to paint all newbees with such a wide and negative brush. Unless you talk to all of us, you have no idea about our motivation and comittment.
Blessed Be
Meridith
 

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First off, this is a very interesting thread, many well thought out viewpoints have been expressed, looking forward to hearing others as well.

There does seem to be a large number of new beekeepers that have gotten into the hobby over the last few years, maybe due to the increase in public awareness of the problems in keeping the honey bee alive. One unfavorable aspect of this popularity that I have observed is the unwillingness of some newbie's to do a thorough reading up on the subject of honey bee behavior and hive management before they get their first hive. I say this because of the obvious ignorance put forth in many of the questions that are asked on this forum about honey bees, I'm sure others have taken notice of this too. Some of the questions are very basic, and asked in all seriousness, but they are questions whose answers are easily found in virtually all of the common reference books on bees. This shows me that no reading is done prior to getting bees in the first place. Not a good omen. John
 

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Hi, my 4½¢ (inflation).

1. Use the increased interest to best advantage.
The prior bee die offs were not noted in the press nearly to this level.
Find ways to educate people to benifit the bees, the groups, the industry, etc.

2. If we don't help the newbies (note, I am one too) to try the things they want to try they will just do it on their own.
I know I am, this is my second year and since I do better with bugs than people, I have not joined any groups so far. I did read books, and forums, and blogs for a year before I got my bees, (I know everyone says this, but I read 7 books and logged at least 200 hours on the internet in bee study in that year.) Many folks are not that patient.

None of the preceding was meant to offend, or demean any person, place or thing. (noun, if you are an adverb you are on your own.);)
Thanks JA
 

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Education and mentoring go a long way.

Stan, Where did you see the 90% decline in feral stock due to CCD? I have not seen that in my removal business and the colony losses in this area due to CCD are very low to almost none. No problem, I was just wondering.
 

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John, I am a new beekeeper (started last year) as well.
Like Meredith in the previous post, I studied a lot before getting my first hive last year. i read books, read forums, watched youtube videos, i visited local beekeepers and helped them with the smoker and watched when they opened their hives, i talked with other beekeepers locally on the phone, I attended a bee school, and i went to a bee club meeting an hour away from me for several months.
My hive died this last winter. I started two new hives this Spring, which appear to be booming.
I like reading about TBH and am trying out mostly non-treatment, though I run two Langs, and have both some foundation and some foundationless in them.

I too see a lot of shockingly clueless questions coming from newbies here. I read some of their questions and even as a newbie myself, I wonder how on earth their bees have even survived the first two weeks with them. :cool: I want to tell them 'Jeez, read a simple book why don't you?- you can read, can't you?'.
However, I think it has not so much to do with the 'natural beekeeper fad' amongst college educated new urban bk's (as was previously suggested), as it simply is a reflection of all types of people and how they do things differently in general.
As with all new endeavors, hobbies, interests, I think you will always get a mix of people. Some will want to learn as much as they can and proceed carefully. They ask questions that are a bit complicated that they couldn't find the answers to otherwise. Others will jump in without knowing anything and imagine it's all so simple that they can get by by asking one or two general questions on this forum. They figure there isn't very much to it, or that they are smart enough to figure it out mostly for themselves. They figure that everyone here will happily type out all the information they need, so why bother reading books or going to classes.
There are just all types in this world. :)

I personally feel all these many new beekeepers are mostly a good thing. Just as people are moving back towards having a little kitchen vegetable garden again, raising some lettuce and tomatoes and maybe kale and string beans. People are moving back towards keeping chickens and bees again too. People want to raise some of their own food again both for financial reasons and to eat fresher healthier food.
I gather that long ago it was common for families with a little bit of land to have a couple of hives in their field or garden. There was always some uncle or cousin nearby who had some bees. Beekeeping is becoming a family affair again, just like vegetable gardening.

I think it's great that this is happening, and I feel the newer bk's who don't bother to learn much or invest much time and energy, well, their bees likely will die off or will go feral. It all just means more bees that are adapted to your local area, more feral swarms to catch, instead of dubious bees being shipped in from far off countries with new diseases and parasites- hardly a wise or sustainable system anyway.
 

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Wikapedia
"For example, feral honey bee populations in the US have dropped about 90% in the past 50 years, except for the Southwest where they have been replaced by Africanized bees. At the same time managed honey bee colonies have dropped by about two thirds. On the other hand, this has been offset by a natural increase in native pollinator populations in parts of the US, where such had been partially displaced by the invasive honey bees imported from Europe."

I know that is a very generic example but just google 90% feral bees and you'll get about 60K hits.

Stan
 
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