I realize most of what I write is often a little on the negative side, or so I am told, by my wife, family, friends, customers, strangers on the street, etc., so, I thought, if I can help others see and hear what I see and hear, maybe we will have a little better understanding of one another – or not. I plan here to present questions asked of me, and not so much my response to those thoughts, but just questions asked of me, so if my frustration shows, I apologize ahead of time. These questions are most often presented to me by novice beekeepers told to them by mentors/experts/fellow beekeepers/books/internet/Facebook, etc.
- A very pregnant lady was informed that her keeping bees at this time may not be a good idea because of her hormone imbalance?
- I need a replacement queen for my package of bees, what happened to the last queen? I don’t know, she is not in the hive? How did you introduce her? My mentor said I should just let her go because she has been with the package of bees for several days now, so I just released her!
- I have a problem? What is that? My bees are drawing comb in a very strange way. How’s that? It’s not in the frames at all but rather all over, I can’t even open the hive. Did you use foundation? No, the internet said I did not have to use foundation!
- I picked up a nuc last night and today the bees are not flying, what could be wrong? Did you open the entrance?
- First statement: “I want to start beekeeping”! First question, how much is an extractor?
- Statement by a very experienced beekeeper: The biggest problem with package bees today is all these artificially inseminated queens in these packages.
- Fall question, my bees are dead! What happened? I don’t know? Ten questions later, did you treat for Varroa? No, because I wanted to go all natural. “I answered; it is all natural for diseased, neglected bees to die!”
- I’m just getting into beekeeping because I heard honey bees were in trouble – Now, we have two problems!
- Hi, I need a queen. Why? What’s-up? My bees swarmed and my mentor said my new queen will not mate with the drones from my own colony!
- This one is often heard, my bees swarmed, so I need a new queen!
- This question was asked in August. Something happened to my queen? What makes you think that? She is not laying and there is no brood. After ten minutes of back and forth, how many boxes does this colony consist of? What do you mean? I only have one hive? How many boxes are on this “one hive”? One! Problem solved!
- This question was asked in June after customer purchased a package in April. Something is wrong with my queen? What makes you think so? She is not laying! Have you seen the queen? Yes. Is she still in the hive? Yes. Some time passes and many more questions??? When did she stop laying? She never did lay! Where is this queen in the hive, and does she appear injured? She is in the cage she came in!
- Customer came to pick up a package of bees 16 days after the arrival notification and very astutely noticed, “these bees are dead!” Yes, that is why we have a mandatory three-day pick up time frame, after arrival notification. Customer states she wanted her money back. “No, you violated a written contract.” I will take this to the Better Business Bureau, she did. The BBB and I had a good laugh!
- Customer, I am starting beekeeping and I need a beginner kit. The kit was set-up in front of her and casual conservation ensued, did you take a course? No! Do you belong to an organization? No! Where are you getting your bees from? I am buying a queen from you. ??? You know it takes more than a queen to start a colony of bees, right? Well, just put a few additional bees with her and I will pay extra.
- I had a beekeeper put $600.00 worth of queens in a refrigerator because they appeared hot. It did have a cooling effect on the queens; second replacement order was placed a week later!
- I did everything my mentor said and my bees still died! I answered, “advice without cost is often cheap advice,” this has nothing to do with payment, but everything to do with not having any skin in the game. I am often chided for my bluntness, but I am blunt so that you do not misunderstand and (many) people are insulted by my matter of fact approach, when they should be indignant at the hundreds of words spoken, when a simple “no” would suffice.
- Or this one, my bees all died, are you going to replace them? NO! I don’t understand I did everything my buddies said and my bees still died? Then tell your buddies to replace your bees! I have often wondered if the above was standard practice, that if bad information resulted in dead colonies, the person giving that information had to replace the bees and how this would affect information given?
- I need another queen. Didn’t you get a queen with your package? Customer answers, yes, but I’m getting to add another box, so I will need a queen for that box, too.
How do you answer such a constant barrage, or on slot, without sounding like a know-it-all, or insulting the person that the above beekeepers hold in such high regard? Like many, I find all of the above very frustrating. I would like to suggest that all new beekeepers taking a class, sign a waiver stating if they ask a question on Facebook, log onto a Q & A session anywhere on the internet, that their membership be revoked, I know this is not realistic, I just said I would “like to.” I could go on for some time with these, but I think you get the message. Plus, some organizations give some very bad instructions to new/inexperienced wannabes, and I say this respectfully of the newbie because they are not beekeepers and will not be for some time – if ever! What do these kinds of questions, practices indicate?
Next year is a new year, we should all do better, try harder.