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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Werning

Are you a Bee Haver or are you a BeeKeeper???

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

So are you a beekeeper or are you a bee haver? On a yearly basis especially this time of the year I sit back when I have a bit of free time and I read all of the posts in the various facebook groups for beekeepers in Wisconsin. It is quite entertaining but at the same time sad.

Its that time of year when I see the same folks posting “my bees died again“ or I only have two of 12 hives left I think the rest died from the cold and moisture. What’s your mite count? when did you trea? It’s no joke I have seen the same folks year in and year out making those posts along with the new bee enthusiast.

I feel like a new beekeeper is allowed to make those mistakes and ask those question. but what baffles me is the ones I see repeating this cycle year in and year out.

I have been keeping bees about 34 years now. I get it I understand it I was once where the bee havers were however I didn’t like losing I liked to win I liked seeing my bees actually flying in February March and April knowing they beat the odds.

How did I do this? it was allot of things. When I was 13 I read all the books and magazines. I surround myself with knowledgeable beekeeper. We didn’t have Facebook back then. We also took what we learned from books and knowledgeable beekeepers and applied it to our own practice and maybe even tweaked it a bit and learned something new.

The internet came along allowing us even more Resorces that we’re easily accessible. More good tools information super highway.

Then the explosion of social media it’s a great thing ya know? Well to social media I say yes and no. So Beekeepers create groups pages for others to socialize and share. Some of these page creators are great Beekeepers some are average beekeeper. Some created the platform to sell bees to others. And some are just novice or bee havers. Why do I say that you may ask?

The answer is simple.

Here’s a few example…..

1/ Social media beekeepers group created by Bee Haver. So what do you see in this kind of group or page. Typically the person who runs this group is a cut and paste. The majority of the posts in the group are taken from other pages where someone with knowledge actually created it. The base of the following to this group doesn’t interact because they either have already seen the article or have figured out the person who runs the group seldom or never actually shares things from his or her own personal operation. I’m not saying what was cut and pasted wasn’t worth the read. What I’m saying is with little or no actual pictures videos or information actually being posted by the creator of the group makes me question is this person actually a good beekeeper and am I learning anything or is this person someone who wishes they were and just really like to be the leader of a group that really dose not interact because they see the person running it isn’t all he or she try’s to be.

2/ ok this kind of group is a club group. Local people share with one another what’s happening during the season, when the next meeting is. These are wonderful groups in these groups there are some great Beekeepers with a wealth of knowledge. And also in these groups there are new members wanting to learn and harness that knowledge from those Beekeepers in the group with a wealth of knowledge. Last but not least there’s the “bee havers“ in the group. The bee havers are the ones who really do the most damage. They have read beekeeping for dummies and now they are self proclaimed experts. They jump to answer questions from the new folks trying to learn. they want to be The first to answer like a child playing trivial pursuit. And at the same time they too haven’t really figured out bees themselves. When this happens it creates a bad cycle. The new beekeepers feel that they got the right answer and make a drastic change in their own program. Then the next question is asked another bee haver answers the questions

the new novice makes another drastic change and once again sets their bees back.

So unfortunately the actual good knowledgeable beekeepers who would love to help and answer questions and teach those new folks and see them succeed didn’t even get a chance to share because 49 of the second and third year bee havers already put their two cents in on the conversation the novice who asked the question and got 20 different answers is now out in his bee yard making changes once again. Possibly dumping powder sugar and rhubarb leaves all over in the hive or misting them with some oil or whatever the case may be.

So congratulations the bee havers have successfully helped the new beekeepers bees abscond. Now they are back asking more questions like why did my bees leave or die. Well you all know the answer to that the bee havers will say did you treat for mites? What was your mite count. And the next thing you know those new beekeepers now are slowly transforming in to bee havers and they soon to will be helping answer questions to all the new folks. THIS IS CYCLE I see each and every year

only a few of those new people actually can see this and actually latch on or lean on to the seasoned beekeeper who put his two cents in the thread after the bee havers answered the question and the new beekeepers already made the novice change that probably didn’t help at all.

3/ page created by the beekeeper who truly only wants to sell you bees.

What will you find here? Well you will definitely see posts from November till May for bees for sale. what else will you see here? You will still see the bee havers answer questions like they know all the answers to beekeeping. You will still have the new beekeepers who came to learn which most will run and make changes recommend by bee haver. There will be a few of the new beekeepers who actually see knowledge in the seasoned beekeepers and they will be able to see the answers from beekeepers and bee havers and tell the difference. The small percentage that see the difference will be successful with the bees they have. Next some of the folks who created the page to sell bees want to see their customers succeed and others truly don’t care and would love to see you become a repeat customer. You will be able to see the difference it’s quite simple. The one who wants to see you succeed will show you how they succeed it’s really that simple if they truly don’t take the time to share be it video or photos from their own operation and how they are doing it and doing it good then they really don’t care they will be happy to sell you bees every year so you can support their business.

Folks I’m sorry if that sounds blunt but it is true. I know plenty of great Beekeepers mentors teachers out there if you raise or want to raise bees you definitely can be successful you just need to slow down and hone in on a beekeeper not a bee haver

I have been keeping Bees 34 years I have seen and tried many different approaches to raising bees and doing a good job of it.

Join groups even the bee haver groups read ask questions learn but in your bee adventures think things through don’t jump on every bandwagon. Take your time and hone in on the real beekeepers of those groups those are the people who will make you succeed when the bee havers and the bee haver followers all continue to repeat the yearly cycle.

We here at Werning Apiaries have been running a 100 % winter survival rate the past 5 seasons and previous to those 5 have historically done well. We have our way of running our bees and it has proven to be successful for us. And we are always happy to share with you how we do things. And want to see our fellow beekeepers succeed.

Feel free to join our Facebook Page: Sustainable Wisconsin Beekeeping

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