Many times New Beekeepers focus on failures. Many beekeepers in their second and third year also experience failure. And to be truthful, all Beekeeper‘s experience failures. It’s part of the job. It’s part of the hobby. And it’s part of life!
In this article I would like to explore Beekeeping in a different way. Perhaps in a way that will offer encouragement and reduce the amount of discouragement. So let’s start with the five primary successes in Beekeeping.
And no, I don’t want to go as far as saying “successfully killing a hive” or anything like that.
Of course there are many successes large and small in Beekeeping and certainly there will be variations on the theme. But I think you’ll get the idea pretty quickly.
I just wanted to distill it down to some of the most core elements.
I’ll list what I’ve come up with and elaborate on them next. Certainly add to this list in the comments if you’d like!
Success number one: comb. That’s it! Your first success as a beekeeper comes in drawing comb. If all of your bees die then certainly that’s a failure. But it’s not a complete failure. Why? Because you have comb. The bees have drawn beautiful valuable comb. Comb…is gold. It should be protected and preserved even if the bees die. No, I’m not going into how at this time. But preseeving
Success number two: survival.
This seems obvious and is often the number one focus for a new Beekeeper. But it’s actually secondary to successfully drawing comb. However, it is a great feeling to come out of winter with a hive that is growing, brooding up, and getting ready to be productive, or swarm, or both! Overwintering bees successfully presents its own set of challenges and requires some management that we won’t go into this article.
Success number three: splitting, for replacement or growth. This means replacing losses (because we all have them) in order to maintain your intended number of hives/colonies, or increasing the number of hives/colonies to support your goals. This requires learning and understanding splits and swarms and swarming and swarm cells. Again, not something we’ll go into detail on here.
Success number four: Harvest. That’s right, harvesting honey. Honey production. This is something that doesn’t normally occur in a beekeeper’s first year. This is another reasons why the comb is so important. When the bees don’t have to expend as much energy and resources to draw out comb, it becomes easier for them to produce an excess of honey, This is what most new beekeepers think of as the reward and as the ultimate success! But there are many many things that go into growing a colony and managing it successfully to be able to harvest honey without detriment to the colony. Having enough honey to taste, versus crush and strain, versus hand extract, versus uncapper and powered extraction etc. are all notable levels of success number four.
Success number five: value - in commerce/outreach. What do I mean by this?
Isn’t this kind of a three in one item?
Ok, yes. But I named the article the five successes, so I’m sticking with that!
So I’ll continue by lumping together several aspects of beekeeping that bring value.
Imagine trading some of your harvested honey for some other goods, products, or money!
Imagine being able to do so knowing that your honey is dry enough that it won’t ferment.
Imagine cracking open a bottle of your own honey six months or a year later and understanding it enough to gently warm the Honey to return it to its liquid state if it crystallized.
Imagine utilizing honey to make other products such as mead!
What about the wax?
What about being able to make enough bees to replenish your Apiary next year?
What about being able to make enough bees to be able to help somebody else get started in Beekeeping?
How about equipment?
Building and assembling frames?
There’s lots of ways to contribute to Beekeeping and offset some of your costs. You can really get creative here!
It’s not always a stand at the local farmers market.
And you might enjoy introducing a class of third graders at a local school to Beekeeping.
Once again this is not an exhaustive article or list of the successes and Beekeeping. There are so many little things and big things as well as your own personal goals and achievements that define success. It can be different for everyone.
For example, it’s funny to me that the typical reward for successful Beekeeping (the Honey) is actually the least interesting part for me!
I actually enjoy making more bees as well as tinkering and trying new methods, techniques, and products.
I also love continued education in what is a life long learning process!
And I love helping people get started and providing support and education and even a helping hand at every level of Beekeeping from the backyard hobbyist all the way through sideline and commercial Apiary‘s!
What are some of the things you would add?
What are some of the successes that you find in Beekeeping?
What part of Beekeeping do you find the most rewarding?
Mike @ BeeResQ.com