Feature Article

Silly Stupid by Hawley Prindle

I learned beekeeping working for my dad and uncle. I don’t know how many times I was called a “dumb ass”. My dad especially got on my case even though I was still too young to pick up a heavy deep full of honey. I remember the frame building, wiring frames, installing wax foundation – all done according to the rules laid out by dad. In fact, there was no chance to do anything my way. So little by little, I had someone to guide me in the correct way to do things – like pinch the head off a queen bee. Dad did not like welfare hives. He taught that a welfare hive took too much effort to mess with. A hive led by a good queen was worth far more than 100 welfare hives. So I guess I am heartless when it comes time to examine a poorly preforming hive.

But I am giving you all this is background for what I saw just the other day at a nearby store selling bee supplies. This store sells garden supplies as well as bee equipment – [Complete bee hive with box, frames, bottom and top cover, inner cover, feeder, hive tool and smoker plus a few other things like a frame grabber and prepared smoker fuel.] I was looking for some wire to wire frames prior to placing foundation in the frames. They didn’t handle it.

But this lady – nicely dressed about 40 – asked the clerk who was all of 18 how she might get into beekeeping? The clerk directed her to the shelves with the beginner complete outfit. Everything was nicely packaged and the lady indicated she needed one. From what I overheard, she had seen on television that bees were dying off and she wanted to help save them. She had a lot of flowers in her yard that could feed the bees. Then she said something about spending about $700.00 for the veterinary services to give her two dogs their annual check-up and teeth cleaning. I watched as she wrote a check for the starter package and headed out the door – the clerk carried the starter kit to her car.
Wow, that blew my mind. I wanted so badly to say something but I managed a little more self-control than my dad would have. I love dogs mind you, but teeth cleaning? My dad would have called this “SILLY-STUPID”. Now thinking about that silly-stupid comment and beekeeping, I just wonder how many people out there have the same thoughts as that the lady in the store that I observed. The clerk did not say anything about getting bees to put in the hive. The business sold bee equipment and to my knowledge the package bee season was over.

Who was going to be around to help this lady put the equipment together and properly? Was she going to put the hive together and set it in her backyard expecting some bees to find it and decide to move in? And did she buy a book—not that I was aware of! I GUESS YOU CAN FIND ANYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW TODAY ON THE INTERNET.

He never knew a rich beekeeper!

I just read in the paper yesterday about a 23 year old person who is building a for profit beekeeping business after study at a university taking something called nonprofit studies. The business plan is to place complete bee hives on the property of various business – they pay a fee. The bee operator and a partner will manage the bees. The hosting company gets their logo painted on the hives and a lot of good PR. Something like going Green. According to the article “Companies helping save honeybee population” are helping rebuild the honeybee population. This start-up company has installed and maintains more than 100 hives at 40 companies. Beekeepers, there is a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end of it! One other comment: you should see those hives! Painted bright colors artistically designed and eye catching. Something like elephants leading a circus parade. This idea should catch on and every community with major business should be an opportunity in waiting for an enterprising beekeeper. Silly-Stupid is not so stupid. And back to that nonprofit studies program, I know a lot about nonprofit. I have kept bees for a long time and as my dad always preached, “He never knew a rich beekeeper!” He didn’t believe in a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow either.