How to Bee Real

So, you talk a big game about being down for the environment and how you got our beneficial pollinators backs.  Do you put your money where your mouth is though?  Do you go further than money and put your actual effort into it?

If you’re a beekeeper, then you have the creds.  You are making it happen.  But for everyone who isn’t a beekeeper, what about you?

Now, not everyone who is interested in bee conservation wants to be a beekeeper.  Just like not every beekeeper is solely focused on honey bees.  We have apiarists who manage mason bees, bumblebees, honey bees and more.

A person concerned about the environment and beneficial pollinator bees doesn’t have to be a beekeeper either.  But if not a beekeeper, what can you do to “bee real” in the bee conservation effort?

You can do any, some or all of the things listed below.

Big Bear’s List of Ways to Bee Involved

  1. Become a hobby beekeeper or professional apiarist.
    1. If you already are or are just getting started, YOU ROCK!
  2. Hire an Apiarist to manage an apiary for you.
    1. Just Beecause you don’t manage the bees yourself doesn’t mean you can’t have bees and have your own honey and beeswax to use for home or business purposes.
  3. Provide support to research into keeping bees alive, healthy and thriving.
    1. For ground level research, you can’t go wrong by supporting Randy Oliver at his website.  He does awesome work not only doing the research but by making it accessible directly to hobbyists and apiarists himself.
  4. Provide support to education and training efforts that increase awareness, teach and train people about bees and beekeeping.
    1. Yes, you can sponsor someone to take classes or begin a training program like the Apiarist Apprentice Trade program at BBE-Tech Apiary Services in Omaha, NE.
  5. Offer a location for a hobby beekeeper or professional apiarist to establish an apiary.
    1. If there’s one thing bees and beekeepers need most, it’s quality places to set up and maintain an apiary.
  6. Buy from a local beekeeper.
    1. Whether it’s honey, beeswax items, or any of the hundreds of delicious and awesome things made from honey and other hive products, supporting local beekeepers means supporting local bee conservation.
    2. Check your local Farmers Markets.  Not only are beekeepers there selling their stuff but all kinds of local growers whose crops got help from pollinating bees are too.
  7. Implement an IPM plan in your lawn care and gardening activity.
    1. Integrated Pest Management is perhaps the best way to prevent our beneficial pollinators from being unnecessarily exposed to toxic pesticides.
    2. The Label Is The Law!  Mix and apply ANY pesticides you use exactly as the label describes.  Not more, not different.  You don’t need to dump a gallon of weed killer on a single dandelion.
  8. Bee an advocate for bees and beekeeping in your community.
    1. There are many cities and towns that don’t appreciate, understand or “get” all the benefits to bees and beekeeping locally.  Even if you don’t intend to have your own hives, you CAN bee a proponent for bees and beekeeping at town council meetings, neighborhood associations, city, county and state elections, etc…

So, this list above is a good start.

Whatever you do, DON’T just be someone who talks about environmental and bee conservation issues but doesn’t actually do anything about it.  The world is full of fakes and phonies.  We and the bees need you to Bee Real.

Technically Speaking…

I am a technician.  In multiple, various ways.  Professionally, I actually am a certified computer network technician.  I was a licensed and registered pesticide applicator.  Personally, I consider myself an “amateur” scientist in that I don’t get paid to engage in research but I am actively involved in R & D and testing various methodologies, techniques, and products as related to beekeeping.

So I generally approach everything from a technician point of view.  It’s just how I roll.  Below is a pretty general and common definition of a technician, at least by Google standards.

I happen to fall into all three of these.  I maintain and operate professional equipment, I have been specifically educated and trained to apply information, techniques and concepts based on scientific research, and yes, I am a beekeeper which does indeed count as an art and a craft and yes, does require skill to be successful.

When I talk about bees and beekeeping in presentations, classes, online, or pretty much anywhere, I come at it from a technician mindset.  We employ the scientific process all the time as beekeepers, especially when including Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in our operating plan.

After spending many years as a professional technician in other fields, I come to beekeeping almost instinctively at this point using the same mindset.

As a contributor to Bee Smart beekeeping project here, I have a few purposes driving my participation.  One, I beelieve that beekeeping is generally a hobby for the vast majority of people and it should be enjoyable.  Beekeeping should bee fun.  By trying to include some entertainment, even at my own expense, I hope to help others have fun and remember some of the things we share here more because of the association of being amused while learning.

Two, I want to encourage and foster a “next step” in professional apiarist careers and services.  Time and technology marches on and as they do, so must beekeeping.  Hobby beekeeping will always be around I think but making a primary living at it must evolve.

This is where JPtheBeeman, myself and others have taken our directions to involve ourselves professionally in beekeeping but not in the conventional role as a migratory pollinator or in substantial honey production.

We encourage some folks to take some risks, bee adventurous, and do something unique that helps make everyone involved a winner.  I want to help people take that step and so have built my business on live removal and relocation services combined with skills training and education as a coach and instructor.

So, whether read my articles, posts and watch my videos and hear me on the podcasts, that’s the point where I’m coming from, a technician with a passion for bees.

The Bee Smart Beekeeping Seasonal Calendar

Honey bee colonies have seasons.  They are the same seasons we observe in general, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  The bees observe the timing and changing of the seasons a bit differently though than we do.

We talk about certain beekeeping tasks and chores that should done seasonally.  The first Spring inspection, the last Fall inspection.  Treatments for various environmental issues and potential pest problems, etc…

When is Spring for Bees though?  When does it actually beeginning?  Is it a date on the calendar?  In my experience,  I would like to suggest that it starts when the bees sense it and act upon it.  More of observing certain environmental conditions and the innate responses that are triggered in the colony in response to those conditions.

For me, Spring doesn’t really start until colonies get serious about drone production.  During the Winter and what I call “pre-Spring” there are good weather conditions to get inspections done to check on brood production, feed stores and colony buildup.  Spring isn’t actually kicked in though until we see the colony make a serious effort at drone production.

When the first batch of drones are capped I can fairly reasonably say that Spring is here and in about 2 weeks swarms might get started and virgin queens will be able to begin mating.

Swarms don’t usually leave until virgin queens are about to emerge.  Virgin queens can’t get mated until there is an abundance of drones.  “Abundant” being a relative term depending on an area’s population density of colonies.

So, first drones, then virgin queens, then swarms.  Spring has sprung indeed.  Our hive inspections,  manipulations and activities fall in somewhere among these beehaviors.

That’s the beeginning of the year for me.  To go to the opposite end, Fall, what do the bees tell me about that?

Once again, the colony tells me when Fall arrives with drones.  The colony stops or dramatically reduces drone brood production and actively starts culling the drone population.  Fall has slipped up on us.

No more drones means no more queen rearing (unless something goes awry).  The active beekeeping year has come to it’s eventual winding down.  Once again, those timely inspections, manipulations and control measures will be fit in among the bees drawing down the colony population and makeup.

Somewhere in between Bee Spring and bee Fall is bee Summer.  How do the bees indicate that Summer has begun?  Good question.  The most obvious indicators of Summer in a bee hive are the colony teaching it’s population peak and switching the focus from primarily brood buildup to foraging and honey production\stores.

So with bees as with with everything else, “to all things there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven…”

When planning those beekeeping activities, Maybee consider is it time for it based on a date or by the bees?  Could bee that the bees will have something to tell us about that.



Grant Gillard Scheduled For the Hive Talkin Podcast

I just got off the phone with beekeeping author Grant Gillard.   Through sheer good will and being a good sport, he took my out  of the blue sky phone call and agreed to be on the “Hive Talkin” podcast.


Of course, for all 4 of you that have actually listened to the Hive Talkin podcast, you know that it is a laid back and sometimes zany chat between a guest (or guests as in the case of Gary and Margaret from Kiwimana to be released this coming Sunday) and myself.

It’s good that beekeepers are so often nice and good people.  If it weren’t for that, I’d never get past the odd looks and seemingly inevitable question of, “Did you fall out of the tree one too many times boy?” by those I talk to.

So, look forward to a cool chat with Grant Gillard, the beekeeping author and swarm catcher from Missouri on Sunday, May 7th.

Visit his Amazon book page to see the books he has written you might have already read or might want to read before his episode.

Who You Gonna Call?

I live in Omaha, NE. I make most of my own equipment.  When I do but beekeeping equipment I always, ALWAYS, make my first call to Jim Raders at Dadant Bee Supply in Sioux City, IA.

If he doesn’t have it or know what I need, he makes the effort to find out. That’s what it’s all about, helping beekeepers to Bee Successful.

However, in the off hand situation that Jim just doesn’t have what I’m looking for, I have decided to make Mann Lake the designated backup.

Why is this? Partly because I really, really liked the customer service experience I had on the phone with them and partly because they ship via my preferred shipper, SpeeDed Delivery.

BTW, Dadant Bee Supply in Sioux City, IA also will ship via Speedee Delivery. In both places, you have to specifically ask for that shipping service via a call in order. Which is my preferred method of ordering anyway.

Making Bee Smart The Best It Can Bee

How much do we charge people to listen to the podcasts, access the website, watch the videos and chat with us at the Bee Smart beekeeping project?  0.  Nada, Nothing.

I have to tell you, this project is an experiment in more than just getting adventurous rascal type beekeepers to do a podcast.  It is an experiment in “alternative” fundraising.

I am pretty libertarian in my personal philosophy.  All that means here is that I want to provide a quality information/entertainment community and experience without charging people for it upfront so that everyone, regardless of income can benefit and gain something from it, even if it’s what not to do.

So if I don’t implement a “Pay To Play” setup like the vast majority of content providers do, how then do I make this happen?  I thought, “let’s try to get people to voluntarily “buy in” to help everyone get something useful.  In other words, if you really like what I and the Beehooligans are doing here and you beelieve it’s worth pushing onward, you’ll support the project.

There are a great number of costs that go into the project.    On the website, there is hosting as the primary cost and the more traffic that comes in, the more it costs for hosting.  We want to reach literally thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, of people.

For the podcasting there is recording equipment, computers, software, and yes, more hosting with podcast audio hosts like iTunes, Spreaker and others for which there is a cost for those services but gives us a better product for our listeners.

Ditto the videos.  Equipment alone is costly.  At least we don’t have the ongoing cost of tape anymore.

Perhaps the greatest cost of all in this endeavor though is time.  Someone has to spend the time to do it and do it right.  There are tens of hours each week that go into maintaining web sites, recording, editing, coordinating, keeping up with social media, etc…

All of that time is time away from running businesses and going to jbs to get bills paid otherwise.  I’m taking the risk and putting in the hours of work without pay, obtaining equipment as I am able to, learning and mproving skills that I had of some and am having to learn of others.

Will my risk pay off?  Will it bee worth it to put out what I intend to be an informative, useful and entertaining cross-media beekeeping community that will facilitate success for the people who listen, read, watch and interact with us?  I certainly hope so, but it will only work if YOU beelieve that it is good enough.

I don’t want every patron to pay a lot of money to help this project bee successful.  I want to get literally thousands of Patrons, you, your friends, your associates, t come in and put in maybe 1 or 2 dollars a month.  With enough people putting in a buck or two each month, that will go a long way to helping this project improve and bee it’s best.

How can you help?  You can become a Patron.  The next most important thing you can do to help is to encourage everyone you know to come in and bee a Patron also.  Not a lot, just 1 or 2 dollars a month.

How many people have you heard say they wish they could help bees if they could without becoming a beekeeper?  This is a sure way to help bees by helping us to educate, inform and motivate beekeepers to help our bees survive and thrive.

How else can you help here?  Bee a participant.  Ask questions here.  Make suggestions, tell me what you think works and isn’t working.  Go to the Bee Smart forum page, register and participate in the discussion there.  Don’t just loiter in the background, Bee involved.

Bee Smart Podcast Episode 6; Beekeeping Books with Dean Stiglitz

This week the Bee Smart crew had Dean Stiglitz, Co-Author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Beekeeping” (Hey, I resemble that remark!) with Laurie Herboldsheimer, sit in on the podcast to chat about all things beekeeping books.  We covered everything front print books to Audio books and beeing who we are, also get sidetracked.  That’s what we do.

Listen to “Episode 6 -Bee Books Special Guest Dean Stiglitz” on Spreaker.