Beekeeping is applied bee biology. This signifies that the honey bee is not domesticated. Rather humans have learned to live with bees by using knowledge of their natural biology. Beekeepers apply aspects of this biological knowledge to manage colonies, encouraging colonies to follow their natural instincts. It is possible to manage colonies efficiently in areas of bee biology where our knowledge is detailed. Colony management is less effective where we lack critical information and detail.
Beekeeping can also be characterized as anticipation not reaction. Ideally, beekeepers should be ahead of the bees, rather than the other way around. Knowledge of bee biology permits beekeepers to anticipate bee behaviors. When a beekeeper’s management only reacts to what bees do, the beekeeper is being managed by the bees! By skillfully applying biological facts about bees, it is possible to develop a progressive beekeeping system.
Beekeeping is also colony population management. Since the honey bee is a social organism which lives in a large colony, bees increase their population in a predictable seasonal pattern. Colonies do this with or without beekeeper intervention. Skillful colony management is directed toward building populous colonies timed to anticipate the nectar flow or developing colonies strong enough to meet pollination needs. Experienced beekeepers took for and attempt to correct colony problems before they arise.
There is a lot of “science” in beekeeping, yet good beekeepers are also practiced in their “art.” Skillful beekeepers are knowledgeable about bee biology, bee-flower interactions, and natural history It is the application of this knowledge that becomes the art of beekeeping.
Experience can be one of the best teachers for beekeepers. Honey bee colonies are not uniform bottles of ketchup, each one the exact replica of the last. Bees. are a natural creationand new and experienced beekeepers alike ponder over the things bees do. Honey bee colonies do not always respond to management in the same way, or as the beekeeper plans!
Beekeepers cannot learn all they need to know about bee management and colony care in one season and then become bored or disinterested in honey bees after exposure to them. Beekeeping is expansive and captivating. Enter the world of the honey bee-it will entertain, enrich and fascinate for many years.