So what is “the better way to bee?” I now think of it as logic-based beekeeping—beekeeping built on science, experimentation, and reasoning—not on myth, wives’ tales, or hyperbole. Where I was raised in rural Pennsylvania, a high value was placed on “horse sense.” Also known as common sense, horse sense is the talent to apply what you already know to a different situation. General knowledge of how the natural world works provides an open window to understanding new things.
For example, we all know that a glass of water will drip with condensation on a hot and humid day. We’ve all seen our breath condense into a cloud on a frosty morning, or noticed water collect on the ceiling above a hot shower. Therefore, we should not be surprised when a colony of bees gets soaked from its own respiration. In fact, we should expect it.
I’ve always tried to cultivate my horse sense, and to this day, I try to understand things relative to what I already know. And when I don’t know the answer, it usually can be found in the elementary precepts of biology, physics, chemistry, or math.
Logic-based beekeeping is the opposite of rule-based beekeeping. I like to avoid rules because you can’t keep bees like you would bake a cake. Few things work that way. If I gave you ten rules for painting a portrait, could you do it? How about ten rules for flying a plane? Walking a tight rope?
Beekeeping is both an art and a science. The science you can learn; the art comes from experience, practice, and good judgment. And the very best beekeepers have an unfettered respect for the bees themselves.
Every year at this time, I write about mountain melancholy. It is the feeling that comes over me when the cool winds of autumn filter down from the hills, when the trees display their bones, and the honey bees retreat to their hives. It always makes be a bit sad, a bit lonely for my bees.
Inevitably, I also think about my website and try to decide on its future and direction. The phrase “logic-based beekeeping” came to me last week while I was in a tent in Chilliwack Provincial Park (BC), contemplating the stars through the mesh (or maybe it was all those fresh-caught mushrooms I sautéed for dinner). Anyway, it suddenly became obvious that logic in beekeeping—deductive reasoning—would be the cornerstone of the coming year.
So there you have it. I usually shed the melancholy after just one post so, phew, it’s over for another year.