Beehooligans Advice: Don’t Give Advice

The internet, beekeeping clubs and associations are full of advice for beekeepers.  ESPECIALLY new beekeepers.  I do not, nor do I, as a general matter, recommend that Beehooligans engage in offering public advice.

Now, having several posts on social media, websites and videos in which I do offer advice on beekeeping, you might wonder what the heck I’m talking about.  Good question.  I have been teaching and training beekeepers and the public about bees for many years now.  There are generalities that I have shared over the years much as many others have.

However, one aspect of Beehooliganism I have learned over the years is that in teaching beekeeping as an individualized activity, I do not want to add to the confusion of newbees nor to the general mass “cloud” of of confusion that has become beekeeping online.

Beekeeping does indeed have shared general equipment, techniques, purposes and experiences that are important to know about.  However, knowing that information in the wrong context can ruin a beekeeper.  Perspective, context is EVERYTHING.

Beekeeping is individual.  Your beekeeping experience is up to you as you work to determine your purpose and reason for beekeeping,  As you set your own goals and objectives to meet while beekeeping.  You are using common equipment and methods but you are implementing them in ways to make your beekeeping successful in ways that make the most success for you, your bees and the environment in which you have your bees and do your beekeeping.

So now, I no longer participate in the online flood of general advice giving.  I wait, I watch, and I observe.  If someone asks me specifically for advice, I will ask them to discuss it one to one, not in public.  I will ask many questions before I answer the person’s question so that I understand the context and perspective of the beekeeper and the beekeeping experience in which the question comes from.  One question ould have theoretically dozens of possible correct answers depending on that perspective and context.  I want to help you get the best answer I can based on your experience.

I teach my apprentices and helpers, the Beehooligans, the same approach.  Answer the individual’s question, not the quesition in general.  The goal in Beehooliganism is ALWAYS to help improve the individual’s beekeeping.

Beehooligans definitely believe in sharing the beekeeping experience.  It makes beekeping more interesting and fun.  It’s awesome to have other people who do the same kinds of things you do, like playing with flying, stinging, insects.  However, it’s important to never forget that their beekeeping is their beekeeping and your beekeeping is your beekeeping, they are not, nor should they necessarily be the same thing.

Beehooliganism Rule # 2

The first rule of Beehooliganism is that bees are crazy.

The second rule that we are talking about today is….

“If your beekeeping isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong.”

Beekeeping should be enjoyable.  It should provide you with insight, food-for-thought, inspiration, enjoyable moments, relaxation and even outright jocularity at times.  In short, fun.

Outside of commercial beekeeping, which can certainly have it’s fun moments, can have other times where it’s just a job, sideline and hobbyist beekeeping is voluntary and should be engaged in with the mindset of it being an overall enjoyable, positive experience.  If it’s not, then something is wrong.

For most people not finding it fun, it’s mostly because they’re not seeing themselves as successful.  Having observable, measurable objectives and goals helps to mark progress and see success rather than scrabbling about in the proverbial “dark”.

What objectives?  Whose goals?  Yours.  Nobody else’s, only yours.  If you have no goals, if you don’t have anything identifiable as to what makes you engage with ornery, oblivious to us, sometimes downright pissy, flying, stinging, insects then why are you doing it?  No wonder your not having fun and seeing what you’re doing as successful.

Beekeeping should be fun, if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.

#1: Bees Are Crazy

I’ve always said that the first thing to know and remember about bees, especially honey bees, is that bees are crazy.  Just when we think we have a decent understanding on their biology and behavior, a dozen people will come up with a hundred examples that don’t match up to what we think we know to outright defy logic.

For example, why do honey bees “washboard”?  Washboarding is a behavior that looks somewhat as if the bees are line dancing by the thousands on the outside of the hive.  Why?  We don’t really understand it yet.  The only explanation I can offer is that bees are crazy.

Washboarding at nite in red light flashlight

All of this to say that while it is very important to learn and know as much as we can about bee colony behavior and bee anatomy and physiology, it is not in our best interest to say we can be truly expert on bees as long as they can seemingly defy everything we think we “know” in the blink of an eye.

So relax, don’t get too caught up on being a bee “expert” or on worrying that you don’t know enough.  None of us knows “enough” because I’m convinced that the bees don’t even know what they’re going to do in many cases, until they do it.

Because really, bees are crazy.