My two favorite holidays are Independence Day and Thanksgiving. I love July 4th because I’m a natural-born pyromaniac, and I live far enough from civilization that I can light fireworks to my heart’s content. But I love Thanksgiving because it remains the least commercialized of the American holidays. I usually spend a quiet day cooking, reading, and walking in the woods.
It’s the bees who set the table
Since I’ve been keeping this website, I’ve always acknowledged the bees on Thanksgiving day. I thank them for providing us with the stunning array of foods we eat, the flowers, the trees, the seeds and all the other things they provide for us. And when I say bees, I mean all of them, from the tiniest Perdita to the great carpenters and everything in between. To them, I am eternally grateful.
Although the bees have given me the subject of this website, it is you, the readers, who have given me the reason to keep going and to persist in spite of an endless string of obstacles. Today is the day for me to thank you.
The Internet is not a friendly place
If I had known how difficult it would be to maintain a website like this, I would have never started. And this year has been the hardest yet. The Internet is a scary place in many ways, and a self-hosted website is nothing but a target. You become a bullseye for spammers, for denial of service attacks, for malware, for worms and viruses, and for just plain nastiness. And the bigger you get, the more the bad guys notice.
From the outside, it may seem like most of my time would be spent writing and researching, but it’s not like that at all. In the beginning it was, and back then I posted nearly every day. But the site evolved in a way I didn’t envision, and now I spend the bulk of my time answering beekeeper questions.
However, the biggest part of my adrenaline reserve is wasted on wondering where the next attack is coming from and what form it will take. I’m a wreck every time I access my site, wondering if it’s still there, and trying to decide what I will do if it’s not. I have a knot in my stomach that never goes away.
The ups and downs of websites
At least three times this fall my site was down for the better part of two days in a row, and each time I wondered if I would ever get it back. It’s a crazy, helpless feeling when the thing you’ve built for seven years just disappears.
So the little website that was almost free in the beginning now runs up an incredible tab. I pay for professional grade hosting and backups and spam filters. I pay another company for a firewall, malware detection, monitoring, and a second set of backups. And I pay another company for high-speed Internet and another firewall.
And because of reliability issues, I also pay to have my subscriptions delivered. In addition, I’m in the process of adding a photo site to store and distribute the photos you keep requesting. It’s a spiral. And I’ve just been told I should hire a professional to optimize the site, due to a seven-year accumulation of useless code that gets in the way.
On keeping promises
I made a promise to myself right from the beginning, that I would keep this site secure for both me and you. I never want a reader to worry about malware or viruses. I’ve vowed to keep the content polite, civil, and as accurate as possible. I vowed to have no garish display ads or pop-ups that push the text out of view or prevent you from leaving. In fact, anything that bothers me as a reader is permanently banned.
So when Thanksgiving rolls around each year, the people most in my mind are the donors who have kept me up and running for another year. I can guarantee that without your generous support, this site would cease to exist in a heartbeat.
And as I’ve explained to many of you, it’s not only the money but the vote of confidence that a donation provides. Your votes keep me slogging through the bad times, the blank screens, and the nasty emails. To you generous folks I send my heartfelt thanks and a sincere wish that your Thanksgiving is filled with joy and happiness.
Honey Bee Suite