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Musings 312

How much intervention in the hive is enough? Some beekeepers do lots of management, entering their hives at least weekly, if not more. Others are minimalists with little or no inspections. Every beekeeper has their own unique situation that dictates their management.

In their zealousness, some new beekeepers always want to get into their hives to see what is happening. They are overly enthusiastic with this new endeavor and want to do inspections a couple times a week. And then there are other beekeepers who do minimalist management, letting the bees do what they know how to do with infrequent intervention. And sometimes it becomes very infrequent or even nonexistent.

So, is more management better? Is less acceptable? My guess is many beekeepers will say there’s a point when the beekeeper will overdo their inspections. But this debate could also be about whether the beekeeper does not do enough inspections.

I consider myself a minimalist when it comes to the management of my top bar hives. Often, I put little effort into checking them and managing them. It sometimes reaches the point where a person can consider me more of a bee-haver instead of beekeeper. I don’t even touch some of hives except to harvest them.

For example, one of my apiaries is in the mountains of Honduras on a coffee farm. I don’t get up there very frequently. The last hives in the line get the least attention. Time runs out and the truck is ready to take the workers back down to town. This is a Saturday and they work only until noon. I must go with it (or take a couple hours and walk down the mountain which is not likely after spending all morning in the hives). These are the hives that I only enter to harvest.

But minimal management works for me in my situation. I want honey from them but I don’t do beekeeping as my primary income source. I’m an elementary school teacher and bees have become a secondary income (unfortunately). They give me what they want for effort I put into their management. I accept that and I’m grateful for it.

Read the full article with lots of great pictures here: Musings on Beekeeping