Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Irony of the Day

Custom Wood Kits International, a manufacturer of top bar hive kits, recently emailed an announcement advertising the creation of their new business on many of the major beekeeping email lists. As part of their marketing scheme, Custom Wood Kits criticized a number of other approaches to bee management (e.g. small cell) in order to show the benefits of top bar hives. As might be expected, a number of the list members on the "Organic" beekeeping list took exception to their criticism of "small cell" foundation. Some list members thought it would be better for them not to take such a negative approach in their advertising, especially about something "they know very little about", but remain, instead, positive about their own product. As a skeptical outsider who reads the Organic Beekeeping list I found this request a bit ironic, if not downright hypocritical. The "Organic Beekeeping" list's stock-in-trade is to negatively cut down anyone who uses bee medications on their bees and doesn't use small cell foundation, no matter what the scientific research might say. (Didn't they go through a week of negatively criticizing Bee Culture magazine?)

To be truthful, I am often critical of the way laypeople and non-reflexive scientists use (and abuse) scientific research, so I have always been sympathetic to the small cell people. Scientific results are always probabilistic, nothing is 100% certain, especially when you examine honeybees in a holistic, ecological fashion. But to not extend to the "Custom Wood kit" folks the same "rhetorical leniency" to speak negatively against other management philosophies, as the "Organic" beekeepers do on their list, is hypocritical.

Natural beekeeping is such a contested concept.


nicty95 said...

Call us hypocritical if you wish. But to say we are speaking of something we know nothing about is not true! We have been at this for quite a while. I criticize and will continue to criticize the continued methods and equipment that got Honey bees in the situation theyare in today. What I find funny is that your a Hero when you are expousing the beliefs of a large group and your a condemed when you discover that the big groups methods can't be applied like a blanket!

Things like foundation and folower boards have no place in natural beekeeping methods. I say methods because unless you keep bee gums in your yard to watch you will never truly be "natural' beehives are man made!

Lets take a good hard look at “Natural Beekeeping” In reality there is nothing about beekeeping that can be considered 100% natural, beehives are man made. So what’s beekeeping all about, simply it’s farming on all scales from commercial to hobby. So what’s farming? Farming is producing a harvest. In beekeeping the main goal is to produce a honey harvest.

I want to have healthier bees and preserve a species in trouble. I want to be a “natural” beekeeper? Can I be a natural beekeeper and have a harvest at the same time? No, you can’t! it’s impossible, there is nothing natural about harvesting honey or what you have to do to get it.

Natural beekeeping is about balancing the colony and it’s needs against your own desired outcome. Most any beekeepers goal is the honey harvest, no matter how great or small it’s the ultimate sign of success for a beekeeper. A natural beekeeper if truly professing to be natural has a different goal, our success is in the survival of the colony season after season. The honey harvest, if any is secondary.

What is success in truly natural beekeeping? Success simply returns to the harvest. To get there the road starts with finding the balance between the Varroa Mite and the Honey Bee. This is where “natural” beekeeping comes into play. The natural nest has proven to be an effective weapon against disease epidemics transmitted by the Varroa Mite. Ok shift gears to reverse! We now need to back up and establish that natural nest before we can find the balance between mites and bees! Here we are now establishing a natural nest in the colony. How do we go about this task? We apply common sense and go back to the Honey Bee’s “natural” home the tree cavity. What are we going to do here? We are going to do the best we can to reproduce this environment!

GaryJ Piantanida
Custom Wood Kits Int.

Abelisto said...

I must reread my post. I was not calling you hypocritical but the people on Organic

nicty95 said...

Then you have my sincear apologies sir, I have mis interpreted the wrtten word which so often happens in the abscence of face to face conversation. I have been reading your blog and will add it to it my list of daily reading, truly interesting things here. Good luck with your Queen rearing attempts. If you ever need someone to brain storm an issue with feel free to contact me!
Gary J Piantanida