I've spent the last few days reading the book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. I am a New York Mets' fan and, with their hiring of Sandy Alderson as General Manager, I thought it might be interesting to read up on his background and others he has recently hired. The book describes the history of the Oakland A's from the late 80s until 2004 or so. The A's are a small-market team with a limited budget that, nonetheless, were able to field teams that were quite competitive. To my surprise, I've discovered a book that has implications beyond baseball, and is applicable to all areas of life, including beekeeping.
I feel many readers might miss the message of this book. This really isn't a book about doing more with less but about being a critical thinker. The management of the Oakland A's were, overall, "outsiders" to baseball. They had not internalized generations of "baseball wisdom" about what produced a winning ball club. They were willing to question orthodoxy, and, more importantly, answer these questions in a rational way. Nothing in baseball "orthodoxy" was sacred to them! This approach led the team to take a different approach to judging talent and building a roster, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of many baseball insiders on their scouting staff.
There is a lesson in this book that applies to other facets of life, even beekeeping. Are we willing to question conventional beekeeping wisdom and ask ourselves why? Where's the evidence? How do we know this? This is a tough thing to do, especially, when facing the laughter and mocking of other beeks with years more experience and a ton more respect in the community. Much of what I do as a beekeeper is to test ideas out over time. Some ideas are failures and they are jettisoned, others that seem to work are retested and critically examined. I do listen to and respect more experience beekeepers but always with a critical ear. How did they arrive at this idea? Is the advice they give based on what's more economically efficient for the beekeeper or what is best for the bees in the long-term? What are the trade-offs? This critical approach does mean more work because it's easier just to accept and do whatever conventional wisdom says to do. But I think in the long-term, the critical approach will be more successful and, therefore, satisfying.