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Hymenoptera of desire

A really great book called the Botany of Desire caused me to think quite a bit about beekeeping. The book was a whimsical hypothesis with surprising clarity and well a well thought out argument supporting the theory that plants have consciousness, and utilized the humans to carry out their plan of migration to new worlds as humans were on the go and settling new areas. The case for four plants was discussed and, in my mind is a valid thesis.

It caused me to wonder about my own journey in beekeeping, and those backyard hobbyists I see at the clubs and conferences. What is this thing that is happening over the last 15 years, the allure of the bees, the desire to help and participate? All the CCD coverage has brought the hobbyist out in droves, even becoming a tres sheik avant-garde endeavor. This has quickly rebounded the number of hives back to 20 million or so nationwide. Not without consequence.
So now we have a crew of new beekeepers who want to rewrite the way we take care of bees without understanding any biology, readers of the rehash in the books suited to their policies, we have a demand such as rarely seen for new bees with a very small percentage who can actually make and raise new bees. The demand has mostly bypassed any standard of quality, and as they say, there just aren't any bees for sale. so you best get a package of bees and you better get it as soon as you can.  Ahhhh the best sales technique the fear and scarcity pitch...............Just what am I supposed to do with a package of toxic bees fresh off the almond pollination run at the end of March here in the Hudson Valley? The store folks lining their pockets with package profits for their bottom line, never have any issues with these, no varroa, no disease no problem man, the queens banked, with nowhere to lay until these mongrels build some comb go further into ovary recline, if you let em get a tad bit cold there's aways the chance her spermatheca filled with new bees is lost from cold. But Hey, this is how ya do it, right?

So you get a package from far away like I did, maybe they lived, but likely not. Your in for three hundred dollars in equipment per hive,  so you try again next season. You attended your bee clubs and know the local go to guru who surely has the best and you took notes and records and are so ready for the next time out. Sooner or later, you realize you cant import bees as they tend to be a bad investment. Sooner or later you realize that the bee clubs really don't teach you anything that matters save some basic and minor maintenance, a great place for fish stories and the 200 lb honey crop off one hive. A great place to profess your cheapness like a badge of honor as you gleefully share your slum lord mentality with others bright-eyed beginners who think you are a God-given saint among men in the mellifera mysterium.

The part of our mind and body that is earthen recognizes like an undefinable shadow the quiet uneasy whisper that hearkens to a dark and grim reality. The Earth, or at least this rendition of it, is dying. The mechanism of how we got here is well told. Wherein the modern ways of agriculture and medicine have given us our model. The revolution of the non vaccinated, organic foodies, fringe survivalists, and indigos, now include beekeepers.

What is this thing, this desire, this calling, that for those afflicted with the fever of having bees? I believe it to be the bees themselves broadcasting an SOS. Just as plants make an audible sound when parched to attract the rain, I think the bees are beaming out the help us please frequency. So good on you for hearing this and participating. I bet you had no idea what a vertical learning curve you embarked upon.
My wish for you hobbyists is a big box full of healthy bees, honey for your tea, some stings for your maladies, and the absolute joy of the things only a beekeeper sees and hears and tastes and feels and senses.
My caution to you is to avoid arrogance and ignorance. The hive will humble you.  You don't learn much outside the hive, so choose your teacher or mentor wisely, but rely on the bees first.
My hope is that you educate yourself, do not bring to the table your personal policies, your ideologies which do not apply here, and take this endeavor more seriously than perhaps anything else you have done. The stakes are enormous and require our very best effort right now anything less is allowing the darkness to creep in further.

Lastly, it is time for everyone to try to get along, commercial folks, side liners, hobbyists, farmers, chemical companies, the whole spectrum has to come together to work out solutions that are sustainable. I am kinda tired of hearing how the commercial operations are so bad from 3 yr experts and, likewise tired (however true) of the hobbyist bashing from the side liners and commercial), we all actually have so much to share with each other. The innovative nature of beekeepers will prevail in the end with a Lil help from above, but we're gonna have to earn it.


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