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Knowledge Bank

Seven types of beekeeping advice to avoid

Having trouble sorting through all the conflicting beekeeping information? Can’t tell fact from fiction? If so, you are not alone. Here is a list of criteria I use myself:

  1. Be wary of advice containing the words “always” or “never.” Very few things in life are so simple, especially beekeeping.
  2. Be wary of advice with an unknown origin. What works in the rainforest might not work in the desert. What works in Oklahoma might not work in Alberta. Remember, all beekeeping is local.
  3. Be wary of advice that includes the phrase, “Bees survived just fine by themselves for millions of years.” The statement is true as far as it goes, but bees are no longer “by themselves.” They now have us and all our trappings, including pollution, pesticides, agriculture, habitat loss, climate change, freeways, urban sprawl, monocultures, and congress.
  4. Be suspicious of advice that isn’t backed with a reason. There should be an explanation for why something works—or at least a theory of why it works. You can then evaluate the advice based on the reasoning behind it. “Just because” is not a reason . . . which leads me to the next point.
  5. Ignore advice when the reason is “My grandfather did it that way for 57 years and never lost a hive.” That is not a reason, that is a story. The world is changing. Your grandfather wrote with pen and ink for 57 years too, but that doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you.
  6. Be wary of curmudgeons, or let’s call them beemudgeons. These are people who give advice that contradicts whatever you are currently doing. They are know-it-alls who know nothing and get attention by saying the opposite. If you change, they change. They breed faster than mites and hang out in places where they can inflict the most damage.
  7. Be wary of advice that contradicts your instincts. Maybe it doesn’t feel right, maybe it makes you uncomfortable. If so, don’t jump in without more research. We all come into beekeeping with life experiences that influence what we know and what we believe. Trust yourself. If the advice doesn’t sit well, look for another solution. And remember, all beekeeping is personal.