A personal note to cranky old beekeepers
Sometimes it is hard to be equable when people make ridiculous comments. For the most part I succeed until someone writes, “My grandfather kept healthy bees for 50 years. If that method worked for him, it will work for me.”
Great. Fine. So why are you asking me how to fix your problem?
Based on other things they say, I’m guessing that many of these folks are about 60, give or take. If I add 20 to 25 years per generation, I can assume their grandfathers were born 100 to 110 years ago. Those newborn babes probably started beekeeping 10-20 years later (especially if they did it for 50 years) which means they began in 1910 to 1930.
The numbers don’t have to be exact. The point is that they were beekeeping
- Before Varroa mites
- Before CCD
- Before IAPV
- Before small hive beetles
- Before pervasive use of pesticides
- Before migratory beekeeping
- Before climate change
- Before multi-lane highways
- Before coast-to-coast suburbia
- Before massive monoculture crops
- Before genetically modified organisms
- Before widespread habitat fragmentation
- Before Africanized honey bees
- Before polluted air, water, soil, and flowers
- Before California almonds
Furthermore, if you belong to this group, your grandfather probably heated bathwater on the stove, got the news from a crotchety radio with hot tubes inside, and made calls from a telephone forever attached to the wall. If he had a car at all, he started it with a hand crank. Fast food meant it was running when shot. Heck, your grandfather needed a tool just to open a bottle of Coke.
But hey, if you think the old ways will work for you, knock yourself out. But if you are going to make inane statements about beekeeping, if you have no clue that the world has changed, then you have no business sending digital code to my computer. Write me a letter instead. Use a fountain pen and ink, paper and envelope, and a postage stamp to tell me the old ways are better.
Learn from the past but move on
If you think I don’t care about the past, you are wrong. We learn from those who have gone before us. We are inspired by those who have tried and failed and those who have tried and triumphed.
What’s more, “cranky and old” has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. Young people can be dull and prejudiced just as old people can be alert and receptive. It’s got to do with your brain, not the year you were born.
When we study the past, we see that a serious mistake is made by hanging on to a tradition, a belief, or an idea that is no longer sound in a modern world. Yes, things may have been better in a former time, but we are not there, we are here. We have to deal with things the way they are, not the way we would like them to be.
So take care of your bees by remembering that this is not your grandfather’s planet. This is the environment we’ve provided for our bees and ourselves, and it’s often not pretty. But it is what it is. Make the best of it and learn to handle it . . . that’s the better way to bee.