The Difference Between Having Bees and Keeping Bees

By The Beekeeper /

       The bee is domesticated, but not tamed. – William Longgood.

How curious are you? I find that if I really want to know something, I need to be diligent, curious and open to discovery. Some say that curiosity is a measure of intelligence. Doubtful – I’m always a tad anxious when I walk into the apiary. By the time I replace the crown cover after inspecting my bees, I have more questions than answers. We crave certainty, but beekeepers know all bets are off when walking into their bee yard. Are you curious about what’s happening in the apiary? If not, should you keep bees?

Bees are considered livestock. Specifically, bees are managed pollinators. As such, we can’t keep bees like pets. We keep them as we would any other beast of burden. This means checking each hive several times a month during the warmer months. Making sure they have enough space for the honey flow. Feeding them when they need extra resources for the winter. Being vigilant for mites, American Foul Brood (AFB) and small hive beetles. If you won’t manage even the simplest of schedules, or can’t be bothered with Integrated Pest Management (IPM), then you aren’t keeping bees. You have them as a novelty. This will only lead to frustration for you and worse, the collapse of your colonies.

We are approaching the holiday season. The bees are now entering their dormant period. Our hives should be strong, queen-right and have plenty of resources. No doubt, there will be dead-outs, but you should have been preparing your bees for this winter last spring. Were you diligent with the health and wellbeing of your livestock? If not, then maybe you shouldn’t be keeping bees. But if you managed and cared for them, if you were curious and filled with wonder every time you entered the hive, then your charges will educate you and reward your curiosity for a lifetime.

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