No, beekeeping is not rocket science. It would be nice if it were that easy.
My engineer husband has a skinny little book–about a half-inch thick–that explains everything you need to know about building a rocket. It has charts, tables, and graphs about things like nozzle sizes and thrust. It’s a cookbook. If you can read the book, you can build a rocket.
Nothing about beekeeping is nearly that simple. You can have six dozen books and fifty years of experience and still lose half your bees . . . or all of them. It happens.
My point here is not to discourage you, but to remind you that beekeeping is not simple. I have read many e-mails this year from beekeepers who lost some, most, or all their bees. I can often hear despair in the words they write and sense the disappointment they feel. But don’t beat yourself up! Remember, the entire planet is conspiring against honey bees and it’s your job to help them.
The challenges for beekeepers are legion. You know what they are. Dozens of diseases, hundreds of pesticides, along with habitat destruction, urbanization, climate change, invasive species, land fragmentation, inbred bees, genetically modified organisms, monoculture crops, and industrial farming to name a few. Each in its own way affects honey bees, often in ways we don’t understand.
Beekeeping is evolving with the times, but the environmental changes are occurring even faster. As a result, colony failure is commonplace.
You cannot afford to become discouraged. If you lose your bees, start again. Try something different. Hone your skills. I truly believe that every beekeeper, whether he has fifty days or fifty years of experience, has the opportunity to offer something to the rest of us.
Beekeeping is a mysterious and magical endeavor, but there is much to learn. And the actual keeping of bees is just the tip of the iceberg–a good beekeeper knows something about plant biology, pollination, bloom times, insecticides, herbicides, nutrition, weather patterns, disease organisms, crop production, heat gain/loss in outdoor spaces, moisture control, reproductive strategies of various pests, carpentry, and even candy making.
The many aspects of beekeeping provide endless opportunities for innovation. And remember, we don’t know where the next breakthrough will come from . . . but it could come from you.