Saturday, September 17, 2016

Freshman Beekeepers Dispensing Advice

There is something I've been thinking about lately.
I recently had to boot somebody from my Treatment-Free Beekeeping group who kept making incessant mentions of the fact that one might do something about one's problems, but one couldn't mention it because this is the treatment-free group. That's trolling.
At any rate, he (or maybe she) complained once booted that he/she had followed the rules, "I answer the questions on the page correctly when people ask about how you accomplish your mission, by brood breaks and selective breeding etc."
Here are the issue I have with this sentiment:
1. If you do not practice what you preach, then you are not answering correctly, unless you put with your statement a disclaimer that you actually don't know what you're talking about.
2. By advancing ideas that you do not practice, you are subtly introducing error into these ideas. You don't know what you're talking about so you don't know when you are in error.
3. Others will undoubtedly see these pronouncements and take them to heart, not knowing that they are actually forming an unknowing link in a game of Telephone.
4. The end result is that people go forth with ideas that are not quite correct and may end up with failing results.
You can see that as an educator who focuses on new beekeepers, this is absolutely the last thing that I want, people going forth with incomplete or erroneous information and having a bad time beekeeping. I don't want your hives after you've given up after one season of unsuccessful beekeeping (especially if they are 8-frame).
The fact is, I do not accomplish my treatment-free beekeeping practice through brood breaks. I just don't. It's not part of my program. And while I believe it can be very helpful for many beginning beekeepers, it should not be considered a long term strategy. The long term strategy should be building up hive numbers (either as an individual or as a collective) so that when losses come, they will push you back to a number you're more comfortable with rather than drag you back to a number from which is hard to recover.
When you listen to my podcasts, you may notice that I am very careful to buttress my remarks on topbar hives with disclaimers that I do not keep topbar hives and that the information I am passing on is gleaned from more knowledgeable and experienced beekeepers in that area. And this is incredibly important. It is vital that experienced beekeepers pass on accurate information to new beekeepers.
So when a treating beekeeper offers advice like this to this group, realize that they are just as inexperienced as any other freshman beekeeper. They are not qualified to dispense information. And I ask those of you that are new beekeepers and just learning this stuff, please do not offer advice to those asking if you have not likewise already done the things you are talking about. I know you are eager to share what you have learned, but please please, be eager instead to share what you have done.
I have seen countless examples of first year beekeepers trying to tell seasoned commercial beekeepers that they are doing it wrong. This is unfathomably counter productive. Please don't do it. It really puts our movement in a very bad light, and galvanizes opponents to our cause.
Thank you for your time,

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