Tuesday evening, the Gwinnett Beekeepers Club had an open forum meeting. That meant there wasn’t a regular speaker. Instead, the club president, Tommy Bailey, who served as a mentor to me when I was starting as a beekeeper, answered questions.
Tommy considers himself a “natural” beekeeper. He doesn’t medicate his bees, since he’s convinced that ultimately weakens the entire bee population. His policy has always been -- if a hive is strong, that’s great; if a hive is weak, that’s too bad. His tendency, he told us, has been to let the weak hives die off.
But now, he’s learned a lesson from another beekeeper. It makes so much sense. Here it is:
The strength of a hive depends primarily on the genes of the queen. If she’s a good layer, then the hive is more likely to survive. If her genes create bees that are capable of fighting off the varroa mite (a major killer of honey bees), then the eggs she lays will hatch into bees that know how to distinguish between larvae that have the varroa mite and ones that don’t host the mite. If those bees know what they’re doing, they’ll kill off the infected larvae, and the hive will thrive.
So -- and here’s the reasoning that makes so much sense -- if a beekeeper has a weak hive, instead of letting it die off, cleaning out the varroa-riddled comb, and introducing a brand new package of bees -- instead of that, just put a new, stronger queen in there. Within six weeks, every bee from the old, weak strain will have died off, and all the remaining bees will be from the new genetic strain. They will clean out the larvae that are infected. Voila! a saved hive.
Just goes to show you, even after years of beekeeping, it’s possible to learn earth-shaking new ways. Even after years of being afraid of horses, it’s possible to do some re-thinking. Even after years of resentment or anger, it’s possible to forgive.
Take your pick. We can all learn something new.
BEEattitude for Day #491:
Blessed are those who provide us with good houses, for they shall have honey in abundance.
The teeny details:
my books: http://www.franstewart.com Please buy them from an independent bookstore or directly from my website.
my eBooks for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Fran+Stewart