All beekeepers will develop their own management methods from the time they receive their first colony of bees. In the early years it is their teacher or mentor who may have the greatest influence and if they are good will continue to be so. If the new beekeeper is a fast learner and they realise their teacher isn’t very good they will probably seek ideas from elsewhere. Most beekeepers methods are someone elses, or modifications of them.
Depending on the level of understanding and ability to learn, most beekeepers modify their methods on an ongoing basis, based on experience and learning from others – it’s called evolution. The “basics” need to be learnt at an early stage and they will help you to manage your colonies in the best way to suit you and your bees. There are far too many beekeepers who seem to think that after a year or two with a couple of colonies, or having passed an exam or two they know it all. It’s these people who often get into influential positions and “advise” other beekeepers. Owing to their own lack of experience or knowledge they dismiss or discredit manipulations or methods others have used successfully for years – often because they don’t know anything about them. There is a lot in beekeeping that you won’t find in books, so I would advise anyone to think through the method you have been told and make your own mind up.
Manipulations are usually done for specific reasons and are part of an overall management system, but there is no point performing them without understanding what is trying to be achieved.
In future blogs I will explain some manipulations that are fairly commonplace. They may not be totally suitable for your purposes or your situation, but providing you know enough to understand what the bees reaction will be there is no harm in modifying them. There is little new in beekeepeing – most of what we have has been around a long time and probably modified from something else.
There is no guarantee any method will work for you, but with a bit of thought and perhaps modification it might. It’s better to think about it and do it. If you don’t you will never know.