The other day, EAS 2012 Vermont President Bill Mares asked me how my bees were doing. Sheepishly, I answered “Don’t know”. “What!” Bill exclaimed. “I’ve been feeding my nucs for a week. “ I felt guilty and embarrassed.  But as I thought the scene through I realized one important fact. I have a full time non -beekeeping job and this job commands and demands my time.

Last year this challenging method, of keeping bees coupled with a demanding job, was made palpably evident as I had many hives swarm.  The genesis of this was a combination of “regular” daytime work and weather.  When it was raining I had the time away from work, when it was sunny work became more demanding? It seemed that both weather and work were conspiring against me.

I was recently speaking with beekeepers in Vermont and New Jersey and I find the lament is the same, how to manage bees while keeping the daytime job?   The Bible warns of divided interests especially with spiritual matters, Matthew 6:24 (New American Standard Bible )"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and wealth.   However, on the earthly plane we can manage (albeit not always well) divided interests. But, the warning in Matthew is applicable because competing divided interests may lead to frustration and possibly contempt.

I certainly don’t want to lose my job because of the bees and I don’t want to be a poor beekeeper because of work.  So what is a beekeeper to do? It takes attention.  

Since we have taken on this role of beekeeper we are called to manage the bees. At the cost of our day job, probably not. However, greater effort is required despite how we are feeling on a particular day or given weather conditions. Yes, if it is raining and the regular daytime work will allow for inspection or management then it must occur. Wrangling bees in the rain is not fun but neither are swarming colonies. Being tired and not wanting to move supers/hive bodies can be frustrating but nothing compared to excess mite loads or missing the signs of a failing queen. The cost of the effort will most certainly be less than the cost of mismanaged hives.

So, as we head into the 2012 Vermont beekeeping season be aware when opportunity appears get up, put the veil on, grab the hive tool, light the smoker and work those bees.

Published: 26 February 2012 26 February 2012