It’s an odd thing, but I never encourage people to become beekeepers. Once someone decides to keep bees, I try to help them along and I enjoy that aspect. But I never try to convince anyone that beekeeping is a good idea. This arises, I think, from fundamental beliefs I have about bees in general.
For example, I believe that:
- Many people are more in love with the idea of beekeeping than with actually doing it. I put myself in this category.
- There are better ways to “save the bees” than keeping honey bees. I truly believe that caring for our environment, refraining from using pesticides, setting aside habitat, planting flowers, and teaching others about the role of bees in our lives will do more for them than owning a few colonies.
- That the bees that are really in trouble, the wild native bees, are further displaced when the density of honey bee colonies gets too high.
- That no matter how you parse it, beekeeping is not for everyone.
The parts I don’t like
When I look at the parts of beekeeping I dread, they add up fast. For example, I don’t like:
- Lifting boxes
- Making syrup
- Making candy
- Mixing pollen patties
- Feeding bees
- Dealing with mites, wax moths, beetles, wasps, and brood diseases
- Counting varroa and sugar roll testing
- Hive treatments of any type
- Dealing with mice and shrews and ants
- Worrying about neighbor complaints
- Working bees in the heat
- Working bees in the cold
- Wearing protective gear
- Not wearing protective gear
- Working bees in the rain
- Running out of sugar
- Buying sugar and hauling it around
- Scraping propolis
- Rendering beeswax
- Extracting honey
- Feeling sticky
- Wiring frames
- Repairing equipment
- Seeing robbing bees, dead bees, or sick bees
- The smell of a dead colony
- Preparing bees for winter
- Losing swarms
- Replacing queens
- Breathing smoke and using smokers
- Finding larvae in my comb honey
The parts I like
That said, some parts of beekeeping are to die for. I love:
- Watching bees at the landing board
- Watching bees on flowers
- Observing bees inside the hive
- Seeing a beautiful piece of comb
- Seeing a new bee emerge from a cell
- Watching the queen lay eggs
- Eating honeycomb
- Watching a swarm leave
- Watching a swarm arrive
- Hearing them buzz as individuals
- Hearing them buzz as a colony
- The smell of a healthy hive
- Collecting pollen
- Building new bee boxes
- Making new frames
- Taking photos of bees
Oddly enough, stings are on neither list because, although I don’t enjoy getting stung, I find the process fascinating more than terrifying. I have to admire the ones that take me on.
Why new beekeepers quit
I’ve heard many estimates for the number of beekeepers who drop out in the first couple of years, usually around 80%. But that number does not surprise me. Beekeeping encompasses a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of heartbreak. Those who embrace it, stay forever and keep bees for decades. Those who don’t, move on, and for them it is the right choice.
Moving on is okay because sometimes you need to find out for yourself. I’m often surprised by who stays and who quits, and I’m not at all good at predicting the outcome. Trying it for a while may be the only answer.
Mulling over the last straw
I sometimes wonder what will be the last straw for me. For now, I think it will most likely come in the form of some law or regulation to which I’m unwilling to kowtow. Hiring a veterinarian to diagnose and treat foulbrood? Needing a building permit for a hive? County licensing fees? Fines for allowing bees to swarm? A lawsuit for a bee sting? I don’t know what it might be, but it will come, courtesy of some politician trying to leave his mark. Whatever it is, I’ll know it when I see it.
So that’s my two cents for the day. It came to me while I was avoiding the stack of unscraped frames in my shed. They’re piled alongside several fifty-pound bags of sugar, a mountain of swarm traps housing spiders, sections of drawn comb with mason bee nests in the corners, screened bottom boards with holes, and a large bucket of unprocessed beeswax. Keeping bugs sure is a lot of work.
Honey Bee Suite
A lot of work and a lot of crap to store!
So much for the “art studio space” . . .
Right. That’s my garden shed. I have a built-in potting bench, not that you could ever find it under all the bee crap.
Good account of separating the “bad and the good” of beekeeping. As for me, a first year beekeeper, I will take the bad with the good. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. I purchased two packages this spring, made two splits, retrieved a swarm of bees from a 85 foot high tower at the US Whitewater Center, trapped-out a swarm in a hollow tree that later absconded, had one of the splits abscond that I later retrieved. I cannot wait until next spring to see what waits for me and the bees that I have not met yet.
Yep, Charlie, sounds like young love!
I can’t help but agree with you.
It’s hard work and it’s NOT fun at times.
It’s hard to find the time to ensure you are not neglecting in anyway and the months roll around with regularity.
So, thank you for this post. Honest and true.
Thanks for the honesty, it’s not often you find that. As a new beekeeper I am still very excited with beekeeping. Though I too have found my once organized garage becoming a catch all for the bee things. I thought I was the only one with a bucket of wax sitting around.
A bucket for wax, a bucket for smoker fuel, a bucket for tools, a bucket for sugar cakes, a bucket for pollen patties, a bucket for wood chips…
Under things that I don’t like I’d add, always feeling like I’m behind and developing an allergy to propolis. Under the things I like I’d add, the look on faces when you say you are a beekeeper and answering questions people have.
Thanks for this post! I don’t feel like the world’s worst beekeeper for feeling this way anymore!
I guess my main dislikes are:
Prices of nucs, packages, and queens are skyrocketing.
Customers want honey but want it for almost nothing.
Customers will check my prices and go around the square to another beek to get honey for $1 cheaper a quart.
Would love to have customers ask me why I charge more for my honey.
So Ken, why do you charge more for your honey? 🙂
After a dozen years of really hard work, expense, self-doubt and disappointments, I have to agree with with you Rusty. But it’s those moments you list when time stands still that keep me going.
One like I didn’t list is that feeling you get when you open a hive and it just boils over with bees, so much so that you can’t figure out how they all fit in. Good to hear from you!
Your list of “not likes” looks all inclusive and probably pretty scary for the new keepers, but I hope they won’t be deterred. It would make a good basis for a lecture in a new beekeeping course. The salvation is that they are so fascinating to watch and study they really do make your heart sing when you work with them and are successful in helping them accomplish their purpose—it is well worth the effort.
You do have to have an understanding spouse though.
I don’t mean to scare off new beekeepers. As I said, there is nothing like trying it yourself to see if it fits. I’m just calling it as I see it.
The part of having to pay a vet to come out and tell me about my bees will about end it for me after 40 some years.
I think about that a lot. I don’t see it working.
This comment is nearly 5 years late, and you may have a more appropriate blog post for me to comment on (you have so many, it’s hard to know!). As a veterinarian and enjoyer of your website since 2015, I must interject here to settle any feathers that were/are ruffled in the hobbyist beekeeping world. As of Jan 1, 2017 (yes, I know, a bit after you wrote this), the only place for a veterinarian in beekeeping is where writing a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) is concerned. This is specifically for the use of antibiotics such as oxytetracycline or tylosin, for example. Veterinarians are stewards of the judicious use of antibiotics anywhere livestock and the human food chain is concerned. Part of the reason we have so much multi-drug resistance in bacterial populations is due to indiscriminate and incorrect use of antibiotics due to historically easy availability.
And that’s where it ends!
You do not need a veterinarian to treat for mites or for any of your hive management! A beekeeper is, of course, welcome to consult with a veterinarian for hive management. Veterinarians with an affinity for beekeeping are constantly attending Continuing Education seminars and keeping up with new research (myself included).
Most experienced beekeepers do not need consultation services and know as much about their bees as even the most seasoned apiary vet. It is only where antibiotics come into the picture that a veterinarian must be involved, and that is not even a concern for the vast majority of backyard beekeepers.
I know you already know this – as it’s pretty old news by now – but thought I’d chime in.
I rationalize that keeping bees enables me to feel more connected to our environment, nature, the cycles of life, yada, yada. Similar to the personal rewards and experiences I feel connected to the SF bay when sailing and the topography and weather of the west when piloting as well as the skills, knowledge and challenges required to perform both safely.
I concur, bees are a lot more work than I ever envisioned when I established two hives this year… even though I try to minimize intruding too often in their lives. I start each day with a cup of coffee and a visit to the hives feeling some need to just “check in with them.”
Now I’m preparing two more hives and ordered two more packages for next spring. And when I question myself why?; just blind persistence to keep on keeping on.
When I had a sailboat I hated scraping barnacles. I would have rather done anything else. Now, when I’m scraping frames, I long for the days of barnacles…anything for a change, I guess. The thing the gets me most, I think, is boredom. Audio books help.
I look forward to your posts, as a first year beekeeper you have been so helpful. As I checked my hives to ready them for winter I saw a puzzling sight. After closing up my last hive, my bees were spaced evenly on the landing board and 8″ up the 1st deep. Their heads were down and all butts in the air, 3/4″ between each bee. What was happening?
Have a good winter,
Were they washboarding?
Ugh, you have called it correctly!! 20 years in and every year for the past three I’ve said “no more!” Hard, hard work and so many variables that cannot be controlled. A good beekeeper is a vigilant one, and you can presume to have done it all well only to lose all of your colonies! I will add to the list: BEARS and dealing with the electric fence!
Rusty, thank you for all your mailings, for all the information you share on your website, and for your wonderful presentation to the Seed Stewards group in Yelm, WA last year.
This post really grabbed my attention as many of these aspects, pro and con, of keeping bees, are what made me decide to ‘have’ bees but not ‘keep’ bees. A friend gave me a Warré hive along with a swarm he’d captured. That was seven years ago and the hive is still humming along.
I never open the hive, so never take the bees’ stores. I don’t put out sugar water, though I keep a watering station in the garden. I don’t try to capture swarms. The hive is in a sheltered corner of a small pasture, near the garden and fruit trees. I’ve planted almost everything I’ve ever heard about that is good for bees, from early blooming Pulmonaria/Lungwort to late blooming Caryopteris, several kinds of oregano, and Autumn Joy sedums.
We’re fortunate in living in a very rural area with a diverse forest/woods/understory all around us. We have the joy of watching the honey bees in the garden, along with various sorts of bumblebees and other pollinators, and knowing that, in the end, all those small beings know much better than I do how to manage their affairs.
Thank you again,
I didn’t know there were so many beekeepers in the South Sound Seed Stewards, but I’ve met a few since that presentation. That was an awesome group to speak to, by the way. Very attentive with great questions.
It sounds like you have the perfect bee hive. Sometimes I think when I’m done keeping bees, I will let them keep themselves, as you do. It sounds so peaceful and harmonious with nature…bees the way they should be.
Every year I re-evaluate my decision to keep bees. I’m not even a big fan of honey (I prefer marmalade). I’m going into year four. Every spring they make it through the winter and figure I must be doing something right. I guess I’d add that having hives seems to complete my notion of a garden and I can’t think of anything more intoxicating than opening the top of a hive in the warm sun with the drone of bees around you. I seem to have an endless capacity to just sit and watch the entrance. It’s like sitting by the bank of a babbling brook. So relaxing.
Thanks for this post and ALL your posts. They are a pleasure to read and I learn so much from them.
Well said, Rusty. I also sometimes wonder what that “last straw” will be for me. So far, the memories of all those magical moments have outweighed the icky stuff. However, the recent discovery of my first instance of small hive beetles (in a rescued colony from a first year beek who gave up) has me wondering.
So far, no hive beetles, but I too have wondered if they might be my last straw. So much to manage and I hate to see beautiful things slimed.
Ahhh, but what about the GUILT – the guilt that maybe you did the wrong thing – or that you didn’t do the right thing – or that maybe if you had been on top of things, you could have avoided something or another… I just don’t need it! Not to mention that I am harboring a non-indigenous species whose very presence is influencing the ability of our natives, such as the beloved bumbles, to survive. And also how my attitude has changed towards others, for example, the wasps… they are my friends in the spring as long as they are helping me by eating aphids or other insects, but then come fall, when they are a threat to “my colonies,” they are my mortal enemies! I have been known to set devious traps to lure them to mass slaughter! What have I become?
And then you have that moment when one of the honeybees lands on a nearby flower that you have grown just for her, and she rustles about, gets covered in pollen, and then moves on to the next and the next, and she doesn’t care at all that you are up close and taking her picture to “capture” her and later enlarge the image on the computer so you can marvel at her most intricate details, and you almost gasp at the beauty and wonder of something so simple and so complex…and you think, “How could I not?”
I love this, Blythe. Very well said!
Great post and I couldn’t agree with you more!!
Good chuckle on your last paragraph Rusty…
Another great column! I would add the following to likes:
1. The look of excitement on the faces of parents and their kids when they come for a tour of my bees – especially when I can point out the queen!
2. The appreciation expressed by the FedEx driver when I surprise him with a jar of honey as a “Thank You” gift.
1st year here as well and man o man did I learn a ton. 5 total, 3 nucs, 1 cut out, 1 package. Lost one nuc to my ignorance, hive fell to laying workers. Learned the importance of inspections on that ordeal. The package swarmed late so I combined the remaining bees to my cut-out hive which I’m kicking myself in the ass for not requeening in the spring. Can’t wait to see if I’m successful over wintering in hopes of splits in spring. It is a ton of work but I’m sure as I hone my yard skills it will go a lot faster. Currently borderline obsession, the wife has to keep me in check.
Every year, while managing one bee emergency or another, I ask my husband, “Why are we beekeepers, again?” “How is this fun?”
But, we keep plugging away for many of the same reasons you list in your Like column. I especially like that keeping bees keeps me in tune with the seasons and blooms and harvest. My hives are my tiny farm in the city.
Love your posts – and this one was spot on!
Mary in Ohio
You ended your post with the picture of frames needing scraping, but you don’t mention that cleaning gear is a dislike, but seems to be so.
Maybe each dislike we have is an opportunity for an entrepreneur to step up to the plate. Not a beekeeper maybe, just an entrepreneur with the right time and equipment to do what we don’t like doing.
To use cleaning of frames as an example …
Many years ago when I was growing up with beekeeping under my father’s guidance, he used a large hot water urn and dunked the frames for a few minutes. This process not only cleaned ALL the wax off, but also ‘sterilized’ them. He then simply let the water cool overnight and cracked off the layer of wax from the top. If I remember correctly, the wax and other junk actually separated on top of the hot water quite nicely, and he could scrape off all the junk and have a nice chunk of wax to work with.
As for me, I enjoy beekeeping – bottom line. The less pleasing functions involved are far outweighed by the sheer joy of beekeeping.
Wow, do I feel ya! I got into beekeeping with the naive idea that I’d “help make more bees,” and while this first year has been successful in that department, I’m astounded at how anxiety-creating it’s been! I actually had a minor panic attack at one point early this summer. On the plus side, my original tiny cluster of native or “gone-native” bees (cutout from an old, old OLD colony in a house being torn down) has boomed into a rocking and rolling hive that’s sent several new swarms into the environment, but wow. The minuses are many – especially the work and worry. It’s daunting to say the least. But like you, I sure do love smelling and hearing those hive boxes, and I really love watching them at work. If everything collapses I don’t know how much of a hurry I’ll be in to start again, but for now I’m really grateful for the experience. I’m also grateful for your blog, Rusty – it’s been so helpful and insightful! All the best, Cathy
I should mention I’m also enjoying all the flowers from my bee-feeding planting efforts. There is that 🙂
A new beekeeper and still laughing at all of this. I’m sure it’s all true, but with a General Contractor husband who has so much stuff that I have no place for my work shoes in the garage, I’m wondering where all of my buckets of things will go 😉 So far, I just have a nuc and a mentor who did the powdered sugar roll and we came up with varroa mites (we stopped counting at 13 with 1/2 cup of bees) so I hope the winter bees are healthy after the treatment. Great essay, Rusty! Definitely a keeper!
Thanks, Liz. A general contractor would be bad. Mine is an engineer who likes to design and build things, but he needs an assortment of different tools for every job. I mean, why have only six screwdrivers when 20 will work just as well?
Well I charge a little more because:
I don’t medicate. Most beeks around here put antibiotics on their hives, because “that’s what you are suppose to do”. I would use antibiotics if I had a reason, European Foul Brood, Chalk Brood.
I don’t put pesticides treatments in my hives for SHB, nor do I treat for VM or TM. Though I may have to reconsider on VM.
Also because of the location of my hives. I have several apiaries within a mile of downtown. Everyone else have hives out in the country. Their honey pretty much tastes the same. While my honey has a very distinctive flavor because of all the many different nectar sources that can be found. My honey is really local, not 15, 30, 50 miles from our town square, Murfreesboro, TN.
Another positive. I love talking about bees. I have had numerous occasions to speak at churches, civic organizations, elementary schools, and to a girl scout troop. I could talk for hours but the time slots are always too short.
BTW, 2 weeks ago I saw an albino honey bee. I was so amazed I didn’t think to capture it or take a picture with my camera. Anyone else seen an albino honey bees.
That was just a tease, but thanks for your reply. Those are good answers!
As for albino honey bees, I have heard of them before but I’ve never seen one. So fascinating.
My first year to bees and we are relatively new to Yelm. I haven’t heard of “Seed Stewards” and could find much on the internet but it sounds interesting. Where can I find more info about the organization? Thanks.
I really don’t like the ever present “worry” that I feel about my bees. I worry more than actually working in the hives. I am still in year one and really love it. I think some people just get too many hives and that takes some of the fun out of it for them. I hope to stay with only four hives- but who knows if that will turn into more. Thanks to you and all the others for great feedback. This is a really nice community.
Thanks. And I agree: lots of great feedback here from all over the map.
That was always one of my concerns, too. Keeping things manageable. I never wanted to make more colonies. 2 was good for me, but at some point, you may have to split them, or you may want to make a nuc, etc. You may need or want to give away some bees, sell some bees, etc. My bees swarmed a few times, which actually helped, and I was fine with that, although some of the bigger producers seemed to think allowing your bees to swarm was a bad thing (how can it be a bad thing when it is part of their reproductive cycle?) AND I was not a ‘honey producer.’ I think newbees should decide what their goal is with beekeeping and then plan forward from there (of course, goals change). Another factor for some might be whether or not your partner or family is interested in this hobby.
I agree totally: You need to decide on your goals so you know how to proceed. When I started out, I only wanted to produce comb honey for my family and friends. I have stayed with that to this day (except for the little diversion of starting a website which has somehow taken over my whole life). But comb honey remains front and center to my beekeeping hobby.
I agree with you on this one. The initial excitement, enthusiasm, obsession and delight of beekeeping probably pushed me further than I needed to go with my beekeeping. Beekeeping supplies, queens and nucs are unusually expensive where I live and I wanted to build up my colonies so that I had a more or less self-sustaining beeyard that required only a few new queens every other year or so. And now that I have that, I’ve noticed it’s not as much fun. As a hobbyist with a day job, it’s easier to take pleasure from three our four hives than it is from nine or ten, which can easily get out of hand and take up a great deal of my time. That’s been my experience anyway.
Now going on my third year of beekeeping I agree with many of your positives and am getting there on many of the negatives! As a biologist, the natural history part of it fascinates me a lot. I would like to add that I really enjoy giving my friends and family a bit of the honey I get from the bees and I also enjoy a bit the amazement and social approval from people when they learn I keep bees. I hope this doesnt sound too superficial but I do!
I love showing people how to eat comb honey. Some are just bowled over that you can actually eat the entire thing! So yes, that aspect of beekeeping is fun, too.
As a first year beekeeper that was sort of thrown into it due to necessity, I found it both educational and exciting as well as frustrating and time consuming. My son and I turned it into a quest to save two hives from being destroyed. Although he has all but given up on me, I feel the responsibility to try to make sure they do well. With many problems and hurtles to jump late in this year, it has seemed to all come together this October. That in itself is very rewarding. I just hope that winter is good to them and we were able to supply them with enough help to ensure there survival for yet another year.
I know that they probably don’t know I’m trying to help them, but when I go outside and find one sitting on the cold porch railing, somehow looking lost to me, I pick it up warming it in my hand and hoping not to get stung, then walk it around behind the garage and place it on the hive flight board and watch it get welcomed back in by its sisters. Well for me that just makes me feel it was all worth all the work. Call me naive but the next time I open that hive they all seam a little more gentle toward me. I have not taken any honey from them yet, as it was all they could do to make what they have for this winter. I look at it like a life learning experience and really just enjoy watching them come and go with such precision. It is just amazing to watch nature work. I hope I never get tired of it. As complicated as it can get, when it all comes together it’s worth it. Hope I feel the same next year, Hahahahhaha!
Rusty, thanks for all the great posts and sharing your knowledge with all of us. You have given me/us years worth of experience to learn from and it has helped tremendously. Thanks again!!
I’m glad to hear it helps! Thanks.
I gave up my bees this year after only 3 seasons of hard work (I don’t count the first year when I did everything I was told to do and thus didn’t really think for myself). And after telling Rusty how much she inspired me with her commentary on never-ending learning. My hands have been giving me trouble, I disliked and wasn’t handling the heavy boxes very well, I didn’t want to really keep making new hives (costs and additional responsibility), never quite seemed to get the timing right and always felt behind, always had questions I thought I should know the answers to (by now) – even though I know that you can do everything right and something will go wrong, OR, observing other beekeepers who have no real knowledge of anything ‘bee’ and they are successful. Add that most of the summer, at least one day per weekend must be devoted to looking after the girls. Equipment must be built or maintained, and if you have more than a couple of hives, you will spend a lot of time taking care of the bees. I was able to relocate them to other beekeepers but practically had a nervous breakdown doing it. I cried for a month. OK, I still cry. I still have a difficult time looking out to where they used to be and wishing they were still there. But I will admit that I have not missed the ‘work/work,’ although I also loved all the things you mentioned Rusty – especially the wonder of just opening the boxes and seeing all those beautiful creatures doing their work. The smell, the sounds, building frames, cleaning, I did love most of it. I sold most everything but do have one full hive set up that I cannot bear to part with. I can’t do it. I am hoping to find a way to stay involved, and may be the ‘wandering bee helper’ next season as I had so many beautiful fellow beeks invite me to join them – whenever I want. Wow. I can’t believe I put this all out here :/ One last thing – I don’t think you will scare off any new beekeepers but I do think interested peeps should be given full disclosure about what they are in for, the good, and the work. Many people get bees having absolutely no idea of what they will need to do to care for and maintain healthy colonies. Good luck to all of you out there – and I hope you and your bees have a safe and warm winter 🙂
This is sad. I’m glad you kept the one hive and I hope someday you will fill it. You never know how things might turn out. Thanks for writing.
I hold out hope that I will find a way. It is too sad for me to contemplate never interacting with bees again. I love your site and was/am a regular here although I have not posted all that much. I hope you keep up your wonderful work here…it means a lot to many! Be well.❤️
First yr. NE Tacoma, the wife still thinks I am in over my head and that it costs too much and takes too much time. For me I still find it very fascinating to say the least.
I thoroughly enjoy your site.
I hear you about regulation driving one out of the art and craft of beekeeping. But for my part, YOU CAN HAVE MY HIVE TOOL WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS.
Hahaha love that ????
This got a good belly laugh! Thanks.
Your #2 belief is my approach too. Every time I hear someone say “I think I’ll get a backyard hive” I launch into a speech about how many better ways there are to help the bees than keeping bees, especially if you are not committed to learning the science of the whole endeavor. Bee hives are not a yard ornament, in spite of the calming and spiritual aspects of watching the colony work. I’m hooked on beekeeping, but not sure I’d do it again if I knew then what I know now…
Here’s the website for the South Sound Seed stewards:
Their mission is to teach gardeners how to properly save seeds from the open-pollinated plants they grow in their gardens. The idea is to gradually accumulate a seed bank of locally adapted varieties, individually and collectively via seed swaps. In addition each month they have a presentation on topics of interest to gardeners. That’s how I met Rusty!
Hope that helps.
One of your bloggers mentioned “very local honey,” consider “local” as the varieties of flora, not distance in mileage. I’m still accelerating as a beekeeper, I’ll let you know how I feel when I’m merely racking up the miles.
Rusty, I have been following you for a few months now. Thank you for your wisdom and advice. I have only been keeping bees for this last season and I fell in love with them. I joined a local beekeeping club and I am in the Albuquerque Certified Beekeeping Program. This last week was the hardest time of all. I live on a farm and my beekeeping yard is at the back of my property a long an “Acequia” (irrigation ditch). I cannot see my top-bar bee hives from the house and I went to check on them as I do about once every three or four days. I came upon them and they had been vandalized with my top off and bars missing—about three bars that had bee full of honey! I put my hive back together and replace the missing bars. After all was reassembled, I fell to my knees and cried for my bees. I could not imagine what they felt when their winter stores were removed and from what I could tell in such a violent manner. There were dirt clods in their hive and sticks on the ground like they had been beating them away. I now have a huge chain and lock around the hive to keep it from being broken into. I almost feel like giving up. I will have to feed these bees to help them get through the winter and opening up the hive every week will be a lot of work and upset for them. Feeling frustrated but hanging in there.
That is so, so sad. It’s hard to believe people are so stupid, selfish, and brutal. Keep on hanging in there; it will be worth it in the end.
Kris, Sorry for your loss. You ( and others) perhaps should look at trail cameras. You can get models that are ultra-compact (3×4 inches) invisible flash and some are also camoflaged. They will stay on duty for months and take pictures or video,fully programable, some for under $100.. Not just to catch vandals or thieves, but anything that approaches your hives day or night.
It’s sad to hear that you want to stay involved in bee keeping but can’t do it on your own. You should check with local bee keepers in your area and see if any have a “Sponsored Hive Program.” This is where they will come and set up a hive on your property. They maintain it and take care of all the hive responsibilities. You get at have some of the honey for the use of your land, and you also get to enjoy watching the day to day activity of the hive. Your basically there to oversee and report to the hive owner if you notice any problems, like lack of activity during nice weather or critter damage. You don’t enter the hive at all, you just monitor the external activity, and you can look through the observation windows at the internal workings. I live in Northeast Pennsylvania, and there were a few people in our area setting up Warre observation hives for the pass couple of years. I don’t know how it was working out for them, as I don’t know them personally, but it might be worth looking into if you want to keep a hive on your property. Hope this helps you.
Thank you Richard. We just installed two cameras and reinforced the fence. So far we have seen just dogs and pheasants in the bee yard. Hoping this will help us to resolve some of our problems.
Hmm, a lot to think about for me as I will be starting my top bar hive this coming fall. Really looking forward to it. I’m scared but going to give it a try anyway. Thanks for all this info!
You will love it!
Kris, It may have been a bear or coons. The trail cam idea is a great one. Just after deer season they usually go on sale here in Michigan. With the pics a good lawyer may be able to inflict the perp to pay damages. Not the desire of most beeks but if it was a person they may think they can just do it again next year.
As far as the worry some feel, remember bees lived for 100s of years with out humans “taking care” of them.
If they run out of space they will swarm, producing a new colony and requeening yours. Worry less and enjoy it more. You need to realize that “every hive” in nature does not survive, the strong survive and repopulate. As long as more survive each year than die the bees march on. I tend to agree, with the concept that one of the items that may affect bees is beekeeping. Queen rearing is very gene pool restricting and having bees where we think they should be VS where they want to be is where some of the worry and needing to care for them arises from.
Happy Holidays everyone.
And yes Rusty has a very very good website. Thank you Rusty for all the time you spend to help others to save their time.
Thank you, Keith.
Very interesting thoughts from you Rusty and all of your followers. I caught my first swarm when I was 15-years old (I’m 70-years old today) and I’m still just as excited about keeping bees as I was back in the day. Your likes and dislikes are equally shared with me but I have never been able to give in to the idea of quitting beekeeping. They are (simply said) fascinating creatures. It’s truly a shame we gathered in so many evil variants over the years that have made beekeeping such a more difficult and disciplined hobby. I will continue to maintain bee colonies until the end and I will enjoy your website (hopefully) for years to come. Thank you Rusty for helping keep us all informed.
Lately, I have been considering getting out of the bug business. My wife has Alzheimer’s. While she is still fully functional except for remembering anything for more than five minutes, it is a chore. Getting blamed for things she did and doesn’t remember them. Mood swings. It’s hard to concentrate on the bees. I don’t give them the care I really should.
I lost my spot almost downtown as the owner died and his children are more interested in selling the property. I was ordered to move my bees in July. As I go by the place. They have cleaned up but the cement pads are still there, a for sale sign, and no bees. It saddens me. I am hoping for another former beek will work with me. Maybe go into business together.
But I love bees. I have so many supers with frames that need to have propolis removed and the boxes sanded and retreated with Cabots. Too cold at the moment. No heat in the garage and the heated honey house I made where we now live is too small to do that kind of work. Especially sanding. Don’t want the mess in the room. But I have at least found a use for the honey house in the winter. Growing four o’clocks from seed. Have a lot of them growing quite well.
When my wife gets much worse, I will have to move back home to SC. But I know I can’t go without getting my bees inspected and take them with me along with a huge amount of woodenware.
It’s in my blood.
Funny this should pop up in my inbox. I gave up my bees in 2016 but not a day or two goes by that I don’t think of them. Just that thought prompts the feeling in my heart I used to get working with them. They remain for me the most fascinating of God’s creation. That said, I honestly have not missed the work of keeping bees because it is a lot of work. So, to my point, I don’t generally recommend people keep bees when they express interest. I advise them they should study on it for a year, read join a bee club, get advice, go to workshops (especially) and see all that is involved. That is what I did. And don’t get me wrong, when I WAS keeping bees, I loved every piece of work I did. Every.Single.One. I just didn’t realize how much work I was doing until I stopped. I see many newbees just getting bees and then getting on FB for tutoring and/or advice. Not sure I think that’s the right way to do this magnificent but challenging hobby, but to each their own. 🙂 I miss those bees…
I think if you watch doctor Leo keeping bees with a smile, a lot of the things you do not like about beekeeping will disappear and you’ll get to enjoy the things you like by using a long lang beehive or if you aren’t committed to Langstroth frames use the I think they are called national frames.
If you keep them the way Dr. Leo says he is treatment-free checks the hives very seldom. But there is no heavy lifting. I’m trying a few long Langs hives this coming season. I also have a beehive lift hand truck I can use if I don’t feel like picking up the boxes on my standard Langstroth.