First, let me explain the title, it is a Beekeeping article after all, and as a result someone will have to explain the contents, everyone will be familiar with this subject material to varying degrees. Overtime the number of items sold to beekeepers as the end all for whatever the current problem in their beekeeping world is, is actually staggering; for example, smokers – over time the bellows have been on top, bottom, sides, different shapes, sizes, materials, different pumping mechanisms or varying distances from the smoker. Now, for the smoker itself, tin, stainless, copper, and again various shapes, sizes, bottom air reservoir, top screen, and different nozzles and let’s never forget the battery operated and propane models. Here is another one just for kicks – foundation: Aluminum, plastic, fully drawn plastic, wax-coated plastic, Duragilt, wax, black, yellow, white, green, 4.9 cell size, 5.3 cell size and drone comb. In brief, other items as well include hive tools, bottles or jars, boxes sizes, top bar, long hive, hive materials. Victorian, many shapes and size boxes, veils, gloves, hive carriers, various screens, double, bottom, moving, entrance reducers, feeders, top, entrance, inside, feeder materials, feeding products – these are all turnips, items you have been convinced you cannot live without. I have to stop here or else this will turn into a book, especially if I include description and usage of all items.
Entrepreneurs are the turnip producers who devise and develop ideas and make ideas a reality, people with great intellect and innovative powers. These are the people who know how things work, people that make things that you and I look at, and say, why didn’t I think of that. Of course, we are the turnip buyers, awed at the bright new shinny thing that will make beekeeping so easy. The turnip truck drivers are the marketers and the cars salesman. They stage the item, put it in an appropriate place in the catalog, list all its attributes, rehearse the sales pitch, and when they see you look at the shiny new toy, they pounce.
A beekeeper’s skill is often rated by onlookers via external criteria, the one with the most colonies, the one with the most years, the one with the most toys, the one with the most turnips. This should never be criteria for evaluating a beekeeper of the year. The trash heap of dull unused toys in beekeeping can be quite large. Remember the Polar Express movie; it had a car where all the broken, unused toys were stored; a dank, dark kind of a spooky place, toys that were going back to The North Pole to be refurbished. Most long time beekeepers have a storage area much like this, which no one ever sees. The reason for this article is to keep you from having such an area, by being an educated buyer, beekeeper. Turnips are okay in their place, I do like them, but just not in this context.
Right now every beekeeping supply business in the good old USA is readying a catalog with varying degrees of turnips, prominently placed for your admiration and consumption. As a potential turnip buyer, I urge you to be an educated turnip connoisseur, know turnips. Do not be the first to purchase a new product. Let someone else be the guinea pig and see if the shiny toy works as advertised or ends up in the railroad car going north. Every few years QRC is asked to evaluate new products coming onto the market at various events. I ended one such talk with, if you are the first to purchase a new product, you may not be the smartest beekeeper in the club, I keep telling myself it went over well.
One more turnip before I finish here – race of bee. I was here before all the hoopla about bees that can run faster than a speeding bullet, leap buildings in a single bound and so on. The Carniolan was supposed to be that bee, it was not; however, it is a great race of bee and is still being crossed with many of the best bees in the world. It improved the honey bee race stock measurably. Russians are coming. They did – and they left, and they left Varroa still intact without a measurable dent in its wake. Ankle bitters, many beekeepers were bitten with this bug and didn’t even leave a mark. And now for the grand finale. We have a new bee in town, we will call it a race of bee, and it’s not, but a great bee nonetheless – Saskatraz. It has all the attributes and makings of a bee that will change beekeeping for years to come. I really like this bee. Can it do all we expected the Carniolan to do – No. Are beekeepers’ expectations that it will – Yes. And that is my problem here. When you donned that bee suit, it has no special powers, no matter the color. And that hive tool is not a wand, even if the end is hooked. And that veil is not a crown, whether zip up or pull over. You do not automatically become a super all-knowing beekeeper; no x-ray vision that allows you to see into colonies without opening the same. Turnips do not make the beekeeper, but a beekeeper can make a great turnip soup out of turnips be they Golden Ball or Manchester, and turnip greens are a tasty side dish.
Consider this a turnip awareness message!
I have a sister article to this one coming, it’s called critical thinking and I think it fits this generation of beekeepers!
Photo By thebittenword.com