honey_bees How can you make your honey bees build comb, move up into the supers, store honey, raise brood? In other words, how can you make your bees do what you want them to do? The answer is you cant, at least not without consequences. And the consequences are usually not good.

Managing honey bees is not like teaching a dog to roll over or coaxing a dolphin to jump through a hoop. Honey bees have their own agenda and you, the beekeeper, are not part of it. They are not going to learn from you; you have to learn from them. That is why good beekeepers evolve instead of emerging fully formed from the beekeeping supply store.

For example, many people want to know how to force their bees to store honey in the supers. Well, there are ways to coerce that behavior, some of which Ive written about. But then, if the beekeeper says, Now I can harvest honey because they put it in the supers! he can easily end up starving his bees.

By forcing the bees to move into the supers prematurely, you may have prevented them from storing enough in the brood boxes. An unthinking beekeeper can easily make the mistake of not looking for winter stores before taking honey for himself and, later, wondering why his bees died.

The members of a honey bees colony communicate among themselves incessantly, and they know what needs to be done and when to do it. They respond to pheromones, the weather, the available forage, and dangers in the environment. They know about the seasons and they know things we dont.

A good beekeeper works with the bees, not against them. Any parent can tell you that you cant force a child to learn, but you can encourage them to learn by providing them with a healthful environment and plenty of resources. Children learn best when they are healthy and given toys, drawing materials, and building blocks. Similarly, a honey bee colony is most productive in a healthful environment with plenty of resources, such as flowers for nectar and pollen, water, and a hive safe from predators and poisons.

Image courtesy of honeybeesuite.com