The “Libeetarian” Beekeeping Approach

(This article represents an opinion of the author and does not necessarily advocate or reject this or any other opinion of approach to beekeeping by the Bee Smart beekeeping Project.)

Now right off the bat, you may bee thinking this is a political discussion as I used a playful version of the word “Libertarian”.  No, it is not.  It’s a principled approach to beekeeping that reflects the general aspects of libertarian philosophy.  In that we use education, rationale, reason and objectivity to determine our beekeeping goals, objectives and methods of management.

We do this in a way that promotes the liberty or ability of each beekeeper to go about their beekeeping as they have determined is in their and their bees best interests with as little to no interference by any government, social or other group that seeks to mandate or forcefully influence any individual’s beekeeping.

Beekeepers are an interesting representation of American society in general. At one extreme are the authoritarians who think that it’s in the best interests of everyone if there were specific rules and regulations to make all beekeepers do some of the same things, especially in relation to treatment or more specifically, use of toxic pesticides.

If you disagree with them and resist their brand of authoritarianism, you are an evil, wicked mean spirited person who just wants all the bees to die. Because if it just saves one little bee…

To the other extreme are the other types of authoritarians who want rules and regulations in place to prevent those “mean and cruel corporate loving miticide pushers” from keeping bees as akin to slaves and farm stock. Bees should be free and management kept to a bare minimum, if not at all in their view.

If you disagree with them and resist their brand of authoritarianism, you are an evil, wicked mean spirited person who just wants all the bees to die. Because if it just saves one little bee…

Then you have the, what I like to call, “Libeetarians”. the anti-authoritarians.  We might use a variety of treatments, we may use few or none. We prefer to let each situation be determined based on actual need and capability to be handled to the best benefit of both the bees and the beekeeper.

In the past I have used terms like “organic” to describe myself as a beekeeper. I find though that even though using the more scientific definition as a basis for that, it still doesn’t adequately describe my approach.

I look at things one colony at a time.  I look at each colony as a unique creature in and of itself.  Each colony has it’s own “personality” if you will.  It’s own distinct characteristics.  I interact with each colony as an individual based on what it indicates its needs are and how my objectives as a beekeeper fit with that.

I beelieve in using the methods and controls that will allow the bees to successfully live and thrive of their own volition. If the bees exhibit genetic traits that allow them to tolerate minimal active presence of certain pests and tolerate other environmental conditions, etc.. then they should be able to mange the nest without my direct intervention.

Then my job is not to tell the bees how to live but instead to facilitate a successful and beneficial hive and apiary environment.

In other words, The bees take care of the inside and I take care of the outside.

Beecause I do live removals from structures, the bees I take out of walls and ceilings, roofs and anywhere else may be in highly distressed conditions. they are getting their butts handed to them by a higher-than-manageable pest or disease presence.  Perhaps area predators have been attacking them regularly, etc… These are distressed bees who need someone to get the monkey off their back then help them recuperate to the point of self sufficiency if they are capable of such.

If the bees respond to a variety of management controls and treatments that I will use in extreme cases of distress, then I continually reduce the treatment and “assisted living” management until they either indicate to me they no longer need my assistance for that or they indicate that they are subject to Natural Selection and all I am doing is prolonging the inevitable.

I am educated, skilled, experienced and ever improving in my knowledge of all things bees. I most certainly do not need nor desire other people to dictate to me what and how to manage my bee hives.

Henceforth, I do beelieve that I will indeed use the term “libeetarian” to describe my general approach to beekeeping. I let the bees do what they do best, I work to facilitate their success and meet my goals and objectives along the way without causing them unnecessary distress. I apply treatments and specific management controls based on evidence and only as needed.

So there you have it, the “libeetarian” approach to beekeeping.   That’s just how I roll.

Author: Big Bear

Owner of BBE-Tech Apiary Services and professional apiarist. Beekeeping instructor at Metro Community College. Exec. Producer, Director and Host of Bee Smart beekeeping project podcast and videos.

1 thought on “The “Libeetarian” Beekeeping Approach”

  1. That’s a great way to describe your approach. I think along the same lines myself. I believe God created the bees. He made them in such a way that they are self sufficient as long as the environment they live in is supportive. Access to water, pollen, etc being of the utmost importance. I think of the hive as a living being and each bee as a cell in its body. If the environment is healthy, the hive is healthy. Simple. As a good steward we don’t need to interfere with the natural order unless there are problems. Thanks Tony.

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