When we were just getting started here at Wildflower Meadows, an old-time beekeeper was retiring and eagerly sold us some of his equipment. As we were getting ready to drive away with our truckload of beekeeping gear, and our dreams for the future, he offered us a piece of immeasurable parting advice. He insisted that we understand that a skilled beekeeper always anticipates the upcoming, and never just reacts to what is happening in the now. In beekeeping, he said, reacting to the present conditions is always too late. He explained that his advice especially applied to the honey supers that we were purchasing. He wanted us to make sure that the supers were on the hives, in place, and ready to go before the honey flow so as not to miss the action. And then, he insisted that we should take them off right before the honey flow ends, well before the robbing starts so as to be less stressful on the bees.
Actually, his wise and priceless advice applies to almost all of beekeeping. It is true that the best beekeepers stay ahead of the conditions, and not just react to them. There is much to anticipate in beekeeping, and reacting is almost always too late. For example, when a colony is in danger of overcrowding, some sort of swarm control needs to be done before it is too late. When a queen is failing, she needs to be replaced before the hive declines precipitously. If there are neighbors nearby with swimming pools, the bees should be given a clean and reliable water source before trouble ensues, and so on . . .
Sadly, many of the supers that we purchased from this gentleman burned up in one of the too-many-to-count California wildfires that seem to strike every year. Yet, sometimes we still run into a few pieces of surviving equipment here and there, which always brings a smile. More importantly, however, this beekeeper’s sage advice – far more valuable – lives on. In our company, we take this advice to heart and always try our best to anticipate, and act, on what lies ahead.