writing and blogging

Thank you for reading Honey Bee Suite

They fly. They drive. They walk. In every bustling city and placid backwater of America, friends and family gather for Thanksgiving dinner. Over steaming heaps of stuffed turkey and mashed potatoes dripping with gravy, they all talk at once, sharing accomplishments, dreams, and plans. The mesmerizing scent of sage, rosemary, and thyme compete with the piquant aroma of pumpkin pie in a sensual overload of fragrance.

Of course, it’s not always picture perfect. I’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner alone in a McDonald’s somewhere in Missouri. I’ve spent Thanksgiving working the swing shift in a doughnut shop and another clearing plates in a nursing home. As penniless students in Oregon, Rich and I often shared our small feast with other cash-strapped students, each far from home and happy to be sheltered from the dank Willamette Valley rain.

A time for reflection

To me, Thanksgiving is not about the end point but about the journey. Each year, on the fourth Thursday of November, we stop—however briefly—and assess our lives at the moment, giving thanks that we’ve come this far, however simple or turbulent the journey has been. And since bees and beekeeping make up a large part of my day-to-day existence, I like to think about you, the readers of Honey Bee Suite.

A website isn’t a real thing without someone to read it. So it’s all of you, some of whom are reading right now, that make it work. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

Household names

In truth, I have met very few of you face-to-face. Nevertheless, many of you are household names. Around home, I talk about you as if we’ve been friends forever, and Rich has heard your names so often, he even asks about you!

Just last night, he said, “Have you heard from Phillip lately?” (Yes). The day before it was, “What’s Tony up to these days?” (Plenty!) and “Roberta said that?” (Can you believe it?) It’s really funny, all these diverse people united by nothing more than love for a six-legged, venom-laden, kamikaze creature with no backbone whatsoever. I guess that’s something.

Bees have a major role in any Thanksgiving celebration.
Bees play a major role in any Thanksgiving celebration.

Fuel for the mental fire

Without your stories and photographs, questions and comments, I would have nothing to write about. Just when I wonder where to go next, someone will ask a question I never thought of, or show me a new gadget I didn’t know we needed.

But the best part of writing Honey Bee Suite is your sense of humor. I often read mail and burst into laughter over a cute story or an offbeat turn of phrase. Last week, when some asked me to write about queen extruders, the mental image had me in stitches.

Most readers of a website come and go, perhaps looking for a specific answer or, in true beekeeper fashion, looking for forty. Others are diehard regulars awaiting the next post, restless when it doesn’t come on time. But both types shape the site, set the tone, and help determine what gets published. Unlike a book, it’s planned writing without a plan.

A different kind of beekeeper

Right from the beginning I knew Honey Bee Suite was not for everyone. I knew it would annoy (a polite word) the old boys. Back when I started, I didn’t care. And I still don’t. The site is not for those who think there is only one way to keep bees or who need to be told what to do next. And it’s not for people who are willing to act without knowing why.

The site is for people like you—thinking people who realize that every colony is different, as is every environment and every beekeeper. It for people who understand that bee biology is the answer to most beekeeping questions. It is for those who realize that only the bees can lead us to solid, logic-based decisions about how best to keep them. Those are the people who gather here.

Giving thanks once again

As always, the first person I must thank is Rich. Although not crazy about bees, he has urged me along since day one. Rich is quick to see alternate ways of doing things, techniques I may have overlooked, or creative solutions to arcane problems. And when I mumble about “nothing to write about,” he can knock off a dozen ideas in a single sentence. Don’t be fooled: Honey Bee Suite would not exist without him.

Next comes all of you who visit the site, especially the regulars. I’m grateful for your photos, stories, sometimes hare-brained inventions, and samples of luscious honey. I’m grateful when you take the time to argue, disagree, correct my grammar, and pierce my reasoning. Not least, I’m grateful for your charming humor and generous financial support.

But above all, I want to thank you for just being you. Writing and maintaining Honey Bee Suite continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I owe its success to each and every one of you. I never forget those who’ve helped me along the way, and you have a special place in my heart.

With gratitude,

Honey Bee Suite

Thank you for reading Honey Bee Suite. Happy Thanksgiving!


  • Happy Thanksgiving Rusty,

    Although we had our Thanksgiving 6 weeks ago and will be putting up our tree this weekend for Christmas, it is a balmy 11 degrees with some sunshine, we have had a warmer end to November here in Ontario.

    Working from home today, I went out and wished my little ladies a blessed new moon and was pleased to hear the softest humming sound that I absolutely love.

    I luckily stumbled across your blogs after googling one sleepless night worrying about something or other in the hive. Now when a question arises or I just want to learn more I head your way. As well I have sent your website to a few other newbees I have befriended.

    I read and reread articles as I prepared my gals for winter and felt relieved when I read that you often check on them as I do too 🙂

    I love your perspective, how frank and often funny, and mostly the education and your experiences. Again thank you for this.

    Many Blessings,

    • Leanne,

      Thanks for the kind words. Enjoy decorating your tree and listening to your bees…I too was listening just yesterday.

  • As exceptionally new beekeepers, we have come to appreciate all that you have shared as we stumble through the maze of how to think “bee” (if that make sense). 20 years ago we started the learning curve on how to think “llama” so we and they could engage with each other. And while thinking “bee” is nothing like that, it is still something full of twists and turns. So thank you. And enjoy your time of reflection this week with friends and family.

  • Thanks for your efforts in building & maintaining this site & of course your well thought out articles in the ABJ.

    Truthfully a few threads I have little interest in and I speed read the content. However most articles & threads I read at least twice.

    Wishing you and family a safe and joyful holiday season.

    Gene in Central Texas

  • Rusty,

    You are a delight and your wonderful sense of humor radiates throughout your work. The world needs more rational, reasonable voices like yours. I always learn something new from your articles and posts. Keep it up!

    Warmest wishes,

    • Thank you, Kirsten. I’m so glad to be working with you once again! I too always learn something new, especially when we debate the finer points.

  • Just wanted to thank you Rusty, for all you do with sharing your knowledge and improving this fascinating hobby. Since reading your blogs my comfort level and general knowledge has improved immensely. Funny you mentioned Phillip. I read all his too!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Rich from Vancouver Island! ??

    • Viktor,

      Dead bees just outside the hive can have many causes, but I can’t answer without more information. To begin, what season is it where you are?

  • As a new beekeeper I was reading so many different books on the subject but I was pretty much bored with the writing and found it hard to get through a book. I stumbled on your blog and ended up scrolling to your very first post and continued reading over the next couple of weeks until I had caught up. It felt more like being in a conversation about beekeeping then a lecture. Consequently I learned and retain so much more than I did from any of the books I read. Thank you so much for the time and work you’ve put into the blog! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Well Rusty, you have done it; you’re right up there, at least in my small world, with my top go to sites; Dave Cushman, George Imrie’s pink pages, and you. And I cannot forget to add the invaluable info from those experienced beekeepers on Bee-l, which I am happy to see at least two posted here. You all are altruistic and kind. I am thankful for beekeepers like you who go the extra mile. Thank you. Deb

  • Rusty, I hope you and Rich have a joyous Thanksgiving. Your contributions to the beekeeping community are immense.

    All the best to you, your family, and of course, the bees.

  • Rusty,

    Thank you for an insightful blog. I can’t believe I just typed “blog”. I just finished my journey studies at my local university and find I’m a little hide-bound. I thank you for poking holes in my ego when and where needed.

    Please have a pleasant holiday and I wish the same for your readers.

    Waldport, Oregon

    • Jon,

      Just for the record, I almost didn’t start a blog because I hate the word “blog,” which is why I’m more inclined to call it a website. But “website” isn’t perfect either. I call those dangly things that hang from the ceiling in hard-to-reach corners “websites” as well.

  • Dear Rusty & Rich

    Thank you both so much for what you do. I have enjoyed your website more than words can express.
    I wish you both many more years of great health, happiness & Joy. The world is a better place because of people like you in it. Always something more to learn. Thanks again for an awesome website.

    ????? Greg

  • Rusty l have to add to all the supportive comments from “friends” of Honeybee Suite and thank you for your dedication in helping make beekeeping possible. Without question you are so simply great. A trustful source of credible, objective information we so appreciate. You may not have all the answers but who does? What I appreciate most is your perspective. If you don’t know you do the research but always back it up by asking the bees. 9 times out of 10 we learn the most by looking, watching, and letting nature give us the answer. Thanks.

  • I’m rubber, you’re glue.
    Your “thanks” bounce back from me and stick to you.

    (What am I, like 12? I should just come right out and say it’s kind of you to be grateful for your readers, but I’m perfectly aware that I’m doing the easy part by reading, after you do the hard part by writing. So I’m thankful for all your writing, and also for reminding me to thank you for it. I suspect that the reason we have a special holiday for Thanksgiving is because it’s just so easy to overlook the things we could be more grateful for.)

  • Thank you for being my “silent” partner in my incredible bee journey over the past two years. Always invaluable info to read in your posts and have learned so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • I am so grateful for all the effort you put into this delightful website. As usual, you have articulated exactly why I enjoy your posts so much. “It’s for thinking people who realize that every colony is different, as is every environment and every beekeeper. It for people who understand that bee biology is the answer to most beekeeping questions. It is for those who realize that only the bees can lead us to solid, logic-based decisions about how best to keep them. Those are the people who gather here.”

    Add to that, your delightful writing style and sense of humor, and Honey Bee Suite is a winner! I recommend your site to every beekeeper I meet and every new beekeeper I teach.

    Best of the holidays to you and Rich. And thanks for all you do for all the bees and the keepers of some of the bees.

  • Thank you for your insights and common sense and not being afraid to speak up and out about so many things. So many times I re-read posts or send the link to others. I feel you have been a touch of down-to-earth and reasonableness (is that a word???) as I try to bring my 1+1=2 mind to the world of beekeeping where nothing is written in stone and 1+1 may equal several things depending on who you talk to!

    Thanks for your time and patience and expertise in opening my eyes to so many exciting topics.


  • I’m an aspiring beekeeper and I love your perspectives. It really is wonderful to learn things and esecially approaches from you, as I’m in Australia and I’m absolutely certain things are very different here but you give me the confidence to try different approaches if need be when I get started.

  • Eloquent and thought provoking as always Rusty, thanks to you too. I’ve had to read and re-read para 4 and the statement that “… it’s all of you, some of whom are reading right now…” because surely ALL of us are reading right now or we wouldn’t be reading it, right? Haha, it’s messing with my mind a bit but then I am easily confused! Anyway have a great Thanksgiving from me in the UK (where we have no real idea what Thanksgiving even is! Or for that matter why Christmas there is called ‘the holidays’, but that’s a question for another day!) xx

    • Ray,

      Over here, we are giving thanks because we no longer have to deal with your strange form of English! Just yesterday I was dealing with your editor of Bee Craft who was busy “anglicising” one of my articles for the magazine (his word). Luckily, the honey bees don’t seem to care one way or the other.

      Happy holidays!

  • Happy Thanksgiving from Western North Carolina! I appreciate this blog and all you write. You’ve taught me to think critically when dealing with my bees. Have a great day !

  • Rusty, as newbees, my husband and I read your post regularly. If we have a problem we go to you first as your comments are level headed and make sense. Some books do not make sense when you think bee biology and (if it exists, I think it does) bee psychology. So a big thank you for all you do. We are all blessed that you do what you do and are thankful for all your help.

  • I’ll try to keep this short and simply say, thank you for giving me the tools to be a better beekeeper. Your work here is invaluable.

    Keep up the great work for all pollinators and have a wonder-full holiday season!


  • Rusty,

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

    I always enjoy your articles. They are addicting. I find myself 4 or 5 articles “deep”, from the original one I set out to read.

    Hope your girls are tucked in safely, for the winter. Keep the great information coming. Al the Infidel

  • Happy Thanksgiving, Rusty.

    From the first moment I read your blog I appreciated your ability to make the science of beekeeping more understandable to those of us less gifted with science. (me). I was fortunate to attend a lecture a couple weeks ago by Tom Seely and in a similar fashion as you he was able to teach the science in a way I could grasp. And in the spirit of giving I would like to encourage all of your readers to set up a monthly donation to HoneyBeeSuite of as little as $10-20. Each month I get a little notification that a donation has been sent to you and it always pleases me to support your efforts.

    Wishing you and Rich joy and happiness over the holidays. Michael

    • Thank you, Michael. I, too, get a little notification each month and it pleases me as well! I don’t need to make money on the site, but I do have to pay my expenses, of which there are plenty. Being able to purchase “pro-level” services for hosting, security, e-mail delivery, and such has made a big difference in the reliability of the site in the last few years. And because of donations, I’ve been able to do it without in-your-face advertising, which I hate.

      I appreciate your donations, and those of the others, and thank you for mentioning it. Every dollar helps.

      Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Fairly new reader. First time commenter. I found you by accident and read that first blog out of curiosity and I continue to read them for curiosity, knowledge, and entertainment. The little I know about bees is almost totally due to this blog. Thank you for being enlightening and entertaining. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  • Wishing you a very Hap Bee Thanksgiving. I am Thankful for your blog filled with knowledge, perspective, wonderful photographs and humor. Blessings to you and yours. Linda Zielinski, Philomath OR

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you. I nearly stopped in to see you this past year, but I was afraid of being presumptuous. Next time, I’ll try to call in advance.

  • Happy holidays from prematurely frozen NE Indiana! I’ve been keeping bees for about 15 years and always have my mind opened and enlightened reading your posts and articles. It has led me down several new paths some of which have actually worked:) Keep up the great work. Glenn

  • Rusty — The biggest bit of wisdom that I stole from you that you stole from someone else and so on is: ALL BEEKEEPING IS LOCAL BEEKEEPING. Understanding that changed everything for me. It prevented a lot of heartache, especially when I first got into beekeeping and wanted to suck up every bit of knowledge and advice I could find. When I hear someone say something like, “You have to manage your bees to your conditions,” I want to give them a thumbs up. That’s when I know I’m talking to someone I can listen to.

    When I hear someone say that this is the best way to feed your bees, or you should never over-winter your hives like this or that, I ask myself, “Where do they keep their bees?” If the answer isn’t, “In exactly the same climate where I keep my bees,” then I make sure not to take it as gospel. That little piece of knowledge has served me well over the years.

    It’s also led me to pretty much disregard most of what I hear from any organisation or person who pretends to speak with authority or goes out of their way to give advice or gives advice with exclamation points at the end of every sentence. Not that it stops me from doing things, way too many things, that I shouldn’t do (I can’t help myself), but learning how to recognise and filter out all the bad advice is such a wonderful place to be. It allows me to put more trust in my own experience and my own mistakes. And I thank you for pointing me in the right direction, Rusty. That’s a big one.

    • Phillip,

      Thank you for saying that. It’s a big one for me too, and I agree, watch out for those exclamation points. They usually signal danger, hyperbole, and lack of insight.

      And Phillip, just do it the way I do it!!!!!

  • Rusty,

    I appreciate you and all the work you put into this page and community. I know I can get good answers here, and I know that you’ll kindly help out in your replies to comments with questions. Thank you so much for all the obvious work you put in, and especially for all the rest of the stuff we never see. My bees and I are better because of you.


  • Thanks, Rusty, for sharing a wealth of information that has guided me through my “bee” beginnings. Your website and articles are so helpful. Happy holidays!!

  • I’m late to the party (very busy work schedule lately), but thank you for all the information and excellent writing! And happy holiday season to you, your family, and your “six-legged, venom-laden, kamikaze creature[s] with no backbone whatsoever!”

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