Whenever someone says they want to help save the bees by becoming a beekeeper, I feel discouraged. That statement usually means they are about to buy a box of unrelated honey bees shipped from the south with a factory queen and all the optional extras, including mites and viruses. Hard work and sound judgment may turn that jumble into a viable colony, but will it help save the bees? I dont think so. Adding more and more colonies into an already stressed environment doesnt solve the problem.
When I think of saving bees, my thoughts embrace all 20,000+ species, not just honey bees. But in fact, I dont believe bees need saving. What needs to be saved is their environment and their food supply. In a proper environment, the bees can take care of themselves.
No matter what kind of beekeeping magic you perform, no matter how skilled your technique, it will be for naught if we dont provide bees with a healthful environment which includes a balanced and plentiful diet. For that reason, every beekeeper should also be a grower, filling fields and flowerpots with life-giving blossoms.
As consumers, we worry about the health of our charges. A pet owner scours the fine print on a bag of dog food or the container of goldfish flakes. A livestock owner obsesses over the ingredients in the layer ration or hog builder. And owners of children scrutinize packages of oatmeal and cornflakes. The bottom line in all cases is nutrition.
Image courtesy of honeybeesuite.com