miscellaneous musings

One beekeeper’s New Year

As I begin my third year with HoneyBeeSuite, I can’t help but think of Christmas Day 2009 when my daughter and I sat at the dining room table, slurping hot chocolate and trying to set up our blogs. In the background my husband was playing mind-numbing oldies and the cat was wrestling tinsel from the tree. I had done a little homework and knew I wanted to use a private host with WordPress software, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

We had fun that day and by the end we had registered domains, selected themes, and were basically ready to go. That was the easy part. At the time, I was working on my thesis and, consequently, my whole life seemed to revolve around bees. Still, I hadn’t a clue what to say in a blog, so I didn’t say much. Heck, I had never even read a blog. In January 2010 I averaged five readers per day. In February it dropped down to one. Ouch.

After that I realized blogging wasn’t a contest and I wasn’t being graded, so I just wrote about whatever bee thing entered my mind. It might be related to my research, or my hives, or a bee I saw in the garden. It might be scientific, or a story, or a news item. This random philosophy started working for me and I liked the results. By the summer of 2011 I was hitting the occasional thousand-reader day. That might not sound like much if you’re blogging about celebrity shenanigans or the latest killer app, but for an esoteric subject like beekeeping? I’ll take it.

So today I want to send a special thanks to each and every reader who has clicked on my site. I want to thank the grammar police, the organic agriculture SWAT team, the top-bar hive mavens, the natural beekeeper’s defense department, and all the other folks who think I’m just plain crazy. All of you have taught me something. When it comes to a real education, I can guarantee that nobody has learned more from HoneyBeeSuite than I have. Not even close.

And it’s not just bees I’ve learned about. Complaints like “your site loads too slowly” or “you have too many scripts” or “your pictures look funny” have forced me to immerse myself in HTML, CSS, and an entire can of alphabet soup I never knew existed. And the need for bee portraiture has forced me into yet another frustrating realm: do you know how long it takes to get a bee to smile? Knowing what I do now, would I do it all over again? I wonder . . .

If I were the type to make New Year resolutions, I would resolve to spend more time beekeeping and less time blogging. Yes, that stack of overflowing honey supers is still in my room. I have boxes of unassembled woodenware, buckets of unprocessed beeswax, and gallons of honey in my shed. My overburdened workbench is laden with framing wire, hive tools, queen cups, and dead bees.

Since I’m not the resolutions type, I’ll probably just keep writing and trying for that 1500-hit day. But for now I’d like to wish each of you a healthy and prosperous New Year. If at all possible, please remember to bee suite . . . and bee happy.


Can't get a bee to pose? Try a porcupine.

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  • I’m sure glad you started blogging! I always enjoy what you write, look forward to your posts, and frequently recommend your site for reading. Keep up the good work – I know it is quite the commitment! Hapbee New Year!

  • Hi Rusty,

    First off, love the website. It’s my favorite spot on the net and I look forward to going to it everyday. It must consume a lot of your time but at least I personally appreciate it.

    Keep up the good work and keep on teaching.

    Jeff H. Peng

  • Well done Rusty. My blog averages about 30 people a day, which shows just how well you are doing!

    My biggest bee blog success of 2011 was that a post I did about Val Littlewood, one of my favourite bee artists, led to her being contacted by a beekeeper who commissioned a design for their honey jar labels. Great stuff.

  • My critically acclaimed beekeeping blog peaked at 2000 hits/day for a few days this past summer when one of my videos got picked up by some popular site. My average is between 100 and 200 a day, which is perfect for me because I don’t like crowds.

    I direct people to Honey Bee Suite every day. I’ve gotten more down to earth advice from you than anyone else. Having been misdirected by experienced beekeepers more than once, I trust your word the most. You’ve never lead wrong.

    There you go. Now the pressure is really on.

    • Phillip,

      Thanks for that, I think. I do indeed get lots of traffic from you. After search engines, Facebook, and Twitter, you hold the fourth position for sending me readers–something I really appreciate.

  • [Comment via e-mail]

    Hi Rusty,

    Just wanted to say hello here and say I have learned a lot from your site.

    I learned of your blog thru Phillip of mudsongs.org. Your post on the need for lots of hive ventilation was a big lightbulb moment for me. I am going to make some ventilated inner covers for the spring.

    I am documenting our first years of beekeeping, making some videos along the way, and it’s great to hear people’s positive feedback.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the weird emails one gets, I get a lot of them. If your site loads slow, its not a big deal. Things happen slowly sometimes.

  • [Comment via e-mail]

    Thank you for your blog. I have learned a lot and you have a fun way of educating bee students like myself. I have been breeding birds (falcons) for about 30 years and have always wondered about having honey bees. Now after all this time I am finally learning about the birds and the bees.

    You are a gifted blogger.

    Kindest Regards,