Bee Informed

Pitching in: Biologists study development of division of labor among bees

“This variation of the reproductive ground plan hypothesis suggests division of labor – the ways social bees cooperate to complete all tasks necessary to keep the colony running – evolved from ancestral gene networks that function to align a female’s dietary preferences with the nutrients she needs during different phases of her reproductive cycle,” says Kapheim,

Source: Pitching in: Biologists study development of division of labor among bees

We Bee Painting

We had a great time doing bee themed paintings at the event this past Saturday at Cheers Paint and Sip in Omaha, NE.  The painting was of a bumblebee in a field of flowers (for most of us, others got uber-creative) which we dedicated to the Rusty Patched Bumblebees which were recently placed on the Endangered Species list.

Here is a photo of our participants and their excellent works of art.  One of their paintings will grace the header photo of this website for the month of February.  The video and results post will be out soon so you can see all the creative fun that was had in the name of bees.

Image by Heather Bell of Cheers Paint & Sip

Pro Tips According To W.Z. Hutchinson

Advanced Bee Culture

In 1911, an ailing William Z. Hutchinson, age 60, published a third edition (The second edition was in 1905) of his awesome 1891 beekeeping book that wasn’t a beginning beekeeping book.  Instead, it was targeted directly at the beekeeper who already had a couple of years or more under their belt and looking at “the next step”.  Sadly, it was his last as he passed the same year.

It’s always fun to go back and read the older tomes to see what is still relevant and what has changed since then.  Here is my own happy little synopsis of Hutchinson’s “Pro Tips” as gleaned from his book, “Advanced Bee Culture”.

W.Z. Hutchinson with grandchildren
Get More Hives

The end all, bee all to Hutchinson’s advice is to get more bees.  get as many hives as you can afford to get, then get some more.  In a lot of ways, what he is saying here is to work the law of averages, I think.  Every beekeeper will experience low producing hives, die-outs, and miscellaneous other problems in their apiaries.  In a smaller operation, the lowered production or die-out of just a few among a few hives can be catastrophic.  However in an operation with more hives, the relevant impact is distributed among a larger set.    In other words, losing five hives out of ten is a devastating loss of 50% of the hives.  However, losing five hives out of one hundred is only a five percent loss and is easier to load balance production in.

Only Do Beekeeping

W.Z. was utterly convinced that, in my own words, “Halfway is half-assed”.  Meaning, of course, that by doing anything but work that directly r indirectly related to beekeeping was just a wasted of time, effort, resources, etc… if you are meaning to be a successful professional apiarist.  He advocated NOT to be a Farmer or a bookkeeper or a shopkeeper or anything else.  It’s an “All In” kind of thing to him and if if you want to split your efforts thinking you are supporting your beekeeping by having some other income generator, then you might as well just quit beekeeping except as a hobby.

Education Is Most Important

He suggests that the very foundation of successful beekeeping is knowledge and experience.  We should gain the first, knowledge, by reading all of the beekeeping books, magazines, and given today’s technology I’d include web-based articles as well.

As to the experience, he tells us that undertaking an apprenticeship of at least one year with an experienced  beekeeper to be the ideal, two years is even better.

Buy and Raise Localized Bees

William felt very strongly that the bees one starts out with is also a part of that bedrock of a successful beekeeping business.  Strong, localized stock is his first and foremost preference for obtaining bees not resulting from one’s own splits.  Find a local beekeeper with good stock and obtain bees from them.

Finding and getting local feral colonies is also high on his list.  He is particularly fond of setting out bait hives to capture travelling swarms.  He notes that areas nearer to woodlands will be likely to find more good bait-hive locations in the periphery of the woods and tree-lines.  For areas which are more open, setting bait-hives up om top of structures and poles is more likely to net positive results.

Ultimately, he suggests to the budding professional apiarist that raising hardy bee stock, raising queens and inserting them into splits from that hardy stock is the best way.

Keep Track of Successful activities AND of mistakes made.

Mr. Hutchinson somberly warns us that it bodes a man well to keep track of the things he does right.  It bodes even better for the man who also tracks what he goes wrong.  Learning from one’s mistakes is one of beekeeping’s best teachers he tells us.

What are some mistakes he takes the time to warn us against?

Jumping in with both feet and no instruction.  Yes, it can be done, but it makes an already hard row to hoe twice, perhaps thrice as hard to overcome.

Remember it is best to follow only one Master.  He advises us against trying to mish-mash multiple systems or methodologies simultaneously.  Find one and stick with it.  He thinks it is still better to run with a poor choice of system than to try to throw  a bunch in together.

More Bees Is Always Better, But Not Too Quickly.  W.Z. opines that this may be the ultimate “Newbee Killer”.  Start smaller, especially if you haven’t the advantage of doing an apprenticeship first and then grow slowly.  Grow, by all means grow.  Only, grow at a pace that is able to be reasonably managed and not going to put you n a position to fail.

The last one I’ll mention here, there are more dandies much worth reading in his book, is to not choose a hive system that is too complicated or costly to reasonably manage.    Bells and whistles are great….For hobbyists.  If you plan to be a professional, “making a living at it” apiarist, then easy to manage and low cost to obtain and maintain is where you ought to be thinking when it comes to bee hives.

Beekeeping Is Dependent On Locality

The ever-successful habits conscious Mr. Hutchinson also reminds us that you keep where where your bees are kept.  Do NOT manage bees in Nebraska the same as you would in Arizona or New Hampshire.  If you do, you might as well hang it up right then.  The successful , professional beekeeper always has his focus on where his hives are and let’s go of where they were.

Moving hives to better pastures.
To Sum It Up

I won’t dare to try to sum up everything in his book.  I can’t express more that I highly recommend this book.  I liken it to a well-aged bottle of Scotch.  It’s overall value has only increased with time.  He goes into much more detail and has more to  offer than the paltry few bits I have tucked into this insufficient, small corner of the Web.  As with many things over time, technology has advanced and made some things obsolete and our environment has changed as well, requiring adaptations like Integrated Pest Management, new pests and diseases, etc…

Yet and still…  There is tremendously more to retain in this book than there is to discard.  If I were to have just the opportunity, I would jump at the chance to invite the esteemed William, Z. Hutchinson to sit in on one of the Bee Smart weekly podcast episodes and just let him take over the show for the day.

The book itself is now in the public domain and is able to be had freely.  This being the case, I have attached a direct link below to the PDF version of it here so that you too will bee able to become savvy to that which is “Advanced Bee Culture”.

Click on image for PDF

 

Opportunities Abound

The beekeeping community is a great and open community.  As a Linux “nut” and a DIY guy, I am able to make many comparisons between beekeepers, Do-It-Yourselfers and open source software people.  There is a great general approach to sharing information and making resources available among members of the communities.

At the same time, There are people within the communities who spend vast amounts of time, energy, resources to create and provide materials and support for others who earn any and every penny they can from those they support.

In order to make a living in the beekeeping field, much as in the other areas, there are a couple of ways that it can be done reasonably.

Firstly, A resource/support provider can charge a rate for “direct” support and service.  This falls into the “let me do that for you” category.  While many beekeepers seeking assistance and resources from the beekeeping community in general love to connect with each other to teach and learn, it’s something else entirely to expect someone to take time out to come and do something for someone else.

In the DIY, open-source and beekeeping communities, there are some people who voluntarily become a mentor to others without charging a fee.  Just out of the kindness of their heart and their willingness to help others. A great character trait to be sure and wonderful to find when a person could use a hand.  However, volunteer mentors are exactly that, volunteers.  They usually have a “day job” to pay their bills and they have family and friends they do things with so their time and opportunity to mentor others is limited to what opportunity and time they have left-over from the job and family.  I think everyone can appreciate and respect that.

Someone making a living from their beekeeping efforts is doing so almost always as a self employed person.  The way they pay their bills, take care of their families, etc.. is by making valuable services and resources available at the convenience of the client.  They work on the client’s schedule, coming out to do a particular service for that client at the client’s convenience instead of making the person wait until and if some free time comes up for a volunteer mentor to become available.

In other situations, people live in areas where there are few or no volunteer resources, no mentors available but they still need help to come to them when on their schedule.  the professional apiarist (beekeeper for hire) is able to accommodate those remote clients, providing them the services and resources they need, when they need it.

The second way someone can work as a professional apiarist and make a living (or try to) in their beekeeping is to offer and make available various types of resources and opportunities on an ongoing basis then asking for either donations, small fees to access or in some cases, pull together a group of supporters or patrons who appreciate all the work and effort the pro apiarist is doing and make regular contributions to support that work and help keep it going.

Some pro apiarists do one way, some the other other, some blend the two together.  No matter how they arrange it, it’s no “easy” career path.  It’s a case of following a passion and taking what you can make of it.  No one gets “rich” in terms of money from this though their levels of personal satisfaction and self fulfillment are through the roof.

There those folks in all of those communities, DIY, Open Source and beekeeping, who seem to think they are “owed” help and support for free all the time.  But by and large, most people “get it” and when they really need that experienced caching or just need to step away and let someone with the knowledge and experience to do it right get it done, they go with the paid pro apiarist without hesitation.

No matter what, the beekeeping community just like the DIY and Open Source/Linux communities are filled with endless opportunities to grow one’s knowledge and skills at their activity of choice.  Take what you can, give back when you can and for some, take the next step and become the next creator who makes whole new resources and opportunities available.  There is plenty of room in all those communities for the hobbyist and the pro alike.  The point is, whether you approach it as a hobbyist or a Pro, you are in the game loving every minute of it.

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Common crop chemical leaves bees susceptible to deadly viruses

According to Chris Mullin, professor of entomology, Penn State, adjuvants in general greatly improve the efficacy of pesticides by enhancing their toxicities.

Source: Common crop chemical leaves bees susceptible to deadly viruses

Would you Like To Bee A Hero?

The Bee Smart beekeeping project was started with the lofty goal of being a mixed media content creator that specializes in presenting useful, interesting and entertaining content about all things bees, beekeepers and beekeeping.

We need help to make that happen.  We need YOUR help.  How can you help?  I’m glad you asked.  Here are some ways you can help us, help you:

  • Become a Patron of the Bee Smart beekeeping project by clicking our handy button on the website and included at the bottom of most posts and pages here.  If you like our work and want to see us continue to bring our best, we can sure use you as a Patron.
  • Become a Sponsor with one-time Sponsorships of specific objectives.  When we do our “Big” videos, record podcasts and hold special live events there are some specific extra costs that we need to cover to handle things like obtaining specific, appropriate equipment, travel expenses, and sometimes to hire a specialist or pay one of our talented team for all the time, effort and creativity they are expending on this very worthwhile pursuit.  All Sponsors are proudly listed in credits and on the website here to let the word know we didn’t did this alone, we needed YOU and YOU came through for us in a BIG way.  Look for the Sponsorship “Sub-Page” under the “Meet the Team” listing on the website menu for more information.
  • SHARE, share,  then share some more.. Please share the posts and links we send out on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn.  The more people who beecome aware of Bee Smart and the great content we offer, the more people we can bee useful to and maybe even find more Patrons and Sponsors.

Bringing You The Best Of The Buzz On Bees, Beekeepers and Beekeeping

Here at the Bee Smart beekeeping project, we want to bee the best we can bee.  A large part of that is working to bring you interesting, useful and entertain original content.

Beeginning today, Bee Smart beegins the next phase of bringing forth the buzz by doing a bit of news aggregation.  Meaning, we scour the world wide web every morning looking for noteworthy news and put it all together here in one place for you.   Beecause of that, we’ve also added a new category area to search in our posts, “Bee Newsworthy”

You will notice that we have already posted some interesting tidbits pulled from various news sources that we think you will find fits our description of “useful, interesting and entertaining”.

Later today, you will still get some of our original content as you are becoming used to seeing as well.  I hope you enjoy the news and notes here.  I know I like them.

 

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A French beekeeper makes mead in the Paris catacombs | Public Radio International

Audric de Campeau has combined his two passions, beekeeping and winemaking, by making mead, an alcoholic beverage made with honey. And he ages his mead in the tunnels under Paris.

Source: A French beekeeper makes mead in the Paris catacombs | Public Radio International