The Horrors of Beekeeping Addiction
by Mike Immer
Hi. My name is Mike, and I’m addicted to beekeeping. (Hi Mike)
It all started a few years ago when my dad said he had always wanted bees.
I read and researched and learned what I could the year before we bought three colonies. And it’s been a growing obsession.
I grew from three to nine to twenty. It was starting to get out of control, but I hadn’t hit rock bottom yet.
Along the way I fell in with the wrong crowd… Other beekeepers.
They were so encouraging, and made it sound so great.
They even ‘helped’ me grow my numbers, learn faster, and even ‘allowed’ me to learn, in THEIR yards, with THEIR bees.
It turned out they were all part of the same gang. The gang was called the Mentors.
It was hard to get in at first. It took some persistence to even get a call back. I later learned that this was by design, and that a lot of newbies don’t want to be persistent, and don’t want to learn, or work hard.
They finally let me in, and although they didn’t call me this, I knew, as an inductee, or as a new member of the gang…I didn’t really have any status.
I had a good work ethic and an open mind. I…was called…a MENTEE!
Once I was in, I WAS IN!
I learned there were SO MANY MORE ways to do things, and more opinions than there were beekeepers!
I decided to keep to myself until on social media and in regards to helping other beekeepers until I had learned A LOT MORE.
Until had some ideas of what worked best for me, and a couple of years under my belt, I was going to keep my head down, and learn, learn, learn.
I didn’t want to embarrass myself by simply regurgitating what I read or watched online.
I wanted to share from a place of experience.
I barely made a peep about beekeeping in the Facebook groups I lurked in. Yet all the while…I was learning.
Randy Oliver’s site, www.scientificbeekeeping.com became one of my favorite sources.
Cruising youtube for information started to fade in favor of more legitimate and specific sources like Ian Steppler in Canada, as well as interaction from the Missouri State Beekeepers Association (www.mostatebeekeepers.org).
I began to want to attend local club meetings, but my schedule and my passion for MORE BEES interfered. So I didn’t really start out making the club rounds, either.
Day job, plus family, plus becoming more and more immersed in beekeeping on a large scale just made going to club meetings impossible, if not inconvenient, even though I still wanted to go.
But it seemed my near obsession had leapfrogged the hobby/home/starter beekeeping stage to sideliner/sideliner helper somehow!
It was super exciting! But to be sure, it wasn’t all fun and games.
It turned out that, to me, the Mentors were a bit like pushers and punishers at the same time.
The shear volume of work involved with managing hundreds of hives REQUIRED me to learn faster, to sweat more, and to become a better beekeeper.
It even turned out to be a great way to improve physical fitness. And while some would look at this and see ‘free labor’ and laugh about it…I didn’t.
I COULDN’T GET ENOUGH!!!
I was addicted.
The sights and sounds, and even the smells in the bee yard, with smokers puffing, bees buzzing, etc.
I LOVED IT…maybe too much…
I started to get a sense that I was sinking deeper into the darker side of beekeeping.
But I HAD to have MORE!
MORE BEES! MORE HIVES! MORE HONEY! MORE BEE TALK!
Sadly, I succumbed to the need for more.
I started spending more.
I started selling things.
It took more and more…time.