If you were like me, yesterday you took a little time to check on your hives. Some of you may have just one or two while others in the hundreds. Regardless of the number of hives we all head out hoping for a particular sound while simultaneously dreading the possibility of the lack of that same sound.
What is that sound, that encouraging noise that we hope to hear? It’s the annoyed buzz that comes from the hive when the beekeeper taps on, wiggles, or rocks the hive. It’s a group response to an outside influence that imparts a sense of life and offers to the beekeeper a renewed hope that the bees are viable at this part of the season. It’s a happy sound and if you did not crack a smile or breathe a sigh of relief when you heard it then maybe the winter cold still finds you numb. In a way it is a validation of your skill as a beekeeper. It signifies that for a particular hive the bees were generally well prepared for winter. What about the other sound? That hollow sound that follows after a hive is tapped, wiggled, or rocked. Well, we know what that means, and for the bees it is not good. It is a discouraging silence suggesting a dead hive. Such a dichotomy, when a hive is alive we feel like we did a good job and when it’s dead……what does that mean? I say it means that we are not in total control but we can try to influence the outcome; that our best laid plans are at subject to the whims of nature. It means that we don’t give up, that we continue to seek the counsel of other beekeepers, attend workshops, and work to minimize loss.
As we head in to the 2013 Vermont beekeeping season keep in mind that there are many VBA beekeepers willing to help. This attitude is a hallmark of many VBA members. Have you thought about becoming a mentor? The VBA is actively seeking VBA members to participate in a VBA managed mentoring program. This is a compensated program that includes extensive training by some of the VBA’s best beekeepers. Would you consider using your years of beekeeping to assist those who need your help? Just think of the many happy sounds and sighs of relief that you might influence for many seasons to come.