A Little Beekeeping Rant

This week, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I left yet another Facebook beekeeping group because I could no longer take people’s complete idiocy (my Idiocracy tolerance is quite low). I tried to tolerate it mainly because i enjoy seeing pictures of people’s hives and bees, but the stupidity just got too high….especially the questions people were asking.

Now I can understand that odd things come up in beekeeping for which you may want input from a group – things like robbing and trouble with yellow jackets. But when you’re asking basic questions like why are my bees kicking other bees out of the hive or do I need to hose off my bees when it’s hot out, I have to wonder and shake my head at the fact that you clearly never bothered to learn ANYTHING about bees or beekeeping before you jumped onto this bandwagon as if it were a trend that was no more difficult than growing kale.

Yes, if you don’t keep bees or aren’t looking into keeping bees, it’s fine if you don’t know the answers to the above questions (which are below, if you’re curious). However, if you are keeping bees you should know the answers and you should know some basic bee biology before you ever set up your hive. Sure these are “just insects” but they are animals and you need to learn how to take care of them BEFORE you get into this. It’s not difficult, people. Read a book, take a class, get a mentor before you even think of setting up your hive.

These are animals, not your little whores

I also got fed up with people who have clearly only gotten into beekeeping to exploit the bees. Sure, I’m glad to take a little honey and wax from my bees and I understand people’s desire to make a bit of money from this fascinating hobby, but when you’re thinking nothing about ensuring your bees are healthy, when you’re taking ALL their honey for yourself so they have nothing left for the winter, and when you’ve lost sight of the need to do this for reasons other than your own gain, you are a bee pimp.

bee, beekeeping

“Please don’t pimp me out.”

When it’s only late August (or even early June) and you’re already asking how much sugar syrup you should be feeding your bees, your hive is very far out of any type of natural balance. Your bees should have plenty of honey in August. The only reason they wouldn’t have enough honey is because you have taken way too much from them.

Bees in the wild never need fed; neither should yours. Bees weren’t meant to eat sugar syrup; they were meant to eat honey (and pollen). Would you feed your kids straight syrup for six months of the year? No, it’s not healthy for humans and it’s not healthy for bees. They like it, it gives them energy, but it doesn’t provide the nutrition they need to stay in good form.

The other side of this exploitation is when people, because they HAVE to add more boxes (supers) to their hives to make sure their little whores have more places to do their business, will open the hive in cold or rainy weather. Bees don’t like this. You wouldn’t like someone ripping the roof off your house in that type of weather either. The bees come out stinging which not only means losing bees, but also risking the lives of the other bees in the hive by chilling them. Sigh….

Also, Facebook is not your doctor

The other annoying group issue I have goes something like this: “I’m breaking out in hives and the sting site is really swollen, am I having an allergic reaction?” or “I got stung and am having trouble breathing, do I need an EpiPen?”

Wait, what? You’re possibly going into anaphylactic shock and you’re going to sit around and wait for the other idiots in the group to respond to you? Facebook is NOT the place to seek medical advice. If you’re having a bad reaction, get to the freaking emergency room. And yes, if you’ve had trouble with stings in the past, you should have an EpiPen around even if you don’t keep bees. Duh.

Beekeeping is very rewarding, but it is not something to get into lightly. So please learn everything you can about bees, about their life cycle, about their needs, and about how to keep them healthy BEFORE you get your first hive.

Answers

Bees kicking out bees: Most of the time the hive is filled with girl bees – workers and the queen. However, in the summer (or late spring), boy bees (drones) hatch and loaf about the hive until they’re called upon to head out and knock up another queen. Other than this, drones have no purpose: they don’t forage, they don’t clean the hive, they don’t even feed themselves (insert man joke here). So, when resources start winding down in late summer, the girl bees need to kick out the boy bees. If they don’t, the hive will be overpopulated and won’t have enough food to make it through the winter.

Hot bees: In the summer bees get hot. To keep the hive cool, a bunch of bees will cluster outside of the hive (called bearding). Bearding does not mean your hive is overheated. Think about when you have a party and the room gets crowded – it gets hot, right? So you go outside to cool down (and maybe to chat someone up). The bees are doing the exact same thing. They also fan their wings to increase air circulation which regulates the hive temperature. You do not need to hose down the hive. The bees know what they are doing and they do it quite efficiently without your intervention. Also, wetting the bees can increase the moisture in the hive which can lead to mildew and other problems.

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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES, The first book in her fantasy series, The Osteria Chronicles, in which she brings Greek Myths to life. The Maze (book Three in the series) will be released November 2017.
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4 thoughts on “A Little Beekeeping Rant

  1. Joseph E Bird says:

    When I was growing up, I lived next door to my grandfather who was a beekeeper. I was ignorant of the art and science of beekeeping, only knowing that if I played barefoot in the yard, I would get stung. My grandfather’s confidence and calm demeanor around bees baffled me. He talked of the occassional bee sting as if they were mosquito bites. Somewhere I heard that when a honeybee stings, it imparts a substance that is actually good for people. An old wives tale? I don’t know. My grandfather lived to be 100. I always thought the bees had something to do with it.

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    • painterwrite says:

      There is some proof that bee stings can alleviate some health issues like arthritis and allergies, but the therapy works best if done by a trained naturopath…not by yanking open a beehive and waiting for the free medicine! And yes, beekeeping does teach you how to be very mellow around bees. Also, I walk barefoot in my yard all the time and have yet to be stung (although I do keep,careful watch of where I’m stepping). Thanks for reading my post.

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  2. David says:

    I don’t know much about bee keeping but those are some crazy questions. I think I would find out before I started. There are a few documentaries out about colony collapse disorder and bees being trucked across the country to polinate crops. When they were pouring corn syrup in the hives to feed the bees……WTF?????

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