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Which beekeeper are you? Part 1 of 2

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jimbeekeeper 

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The Forceful Type

There is the forceful type of beekeeper who intends to move both heaven and earth in his attempt to do what he has set out to do, whether the bees like it or not. ?Smoke the blighters and get on with it? comes to mind is his motto, making his bees bad tempered at the expense of neighbour?s goodwill. In most cases he is overdressed for example with heavy leather gloves that a hedge layer would feel comfortable with, thus making a mockery of handling bees.


The Fussy Type

The fussy type comes next. This one looks at the sky to see if rain or thunder is about, looks at his watch to see if there is enough time to do what he wants to do, and then looks at the beehive. The job needn?t be done after all. Taking down a beehive, to him, is an event, which must only be undertaken when conditions are just right and the stars are propitious.

The Careless Type

Now for the careless type, ?Never mind, everything will be all right? is his maxim. He never thinks forward of his needs and requirements for the job in hand, but starts cheerfully with the minimum of preparation. If the smoker goes out at a critical moment, there?s plenty more fuel in the house. Queen excluder wanted? There?s one in the cellar. Smoker out again ? now where are those matches? The opened colony can give rise to excessive amounts of chilled brood, in addition, bees are apt to smart under manipulation of this kind ? and so might the chance visitor.

The Optimistic Type

Then there is the optimistic type. His bees are expected to work miracles. If half dozen bees are on the wing, on must go a super, with foundation instead of drawn comb, as this will give them that extra bit of encouragement. When other beekeepers are uniting or contracting their brood boxes with division boards, the optimist is all for more room and more honey. Five combs are covered with bees, and the hive is composed of two brood-boxes and two supers, foundation and all.
The Inventor Type

Now, what about the inventor type? Of all the hobbies, beekeeping lends itself best to the inventor type. Ideas flow like water from a spring, from special floor-boards, patent feeders, contraptions that will make swarms, stop swarms, catch swarms, gadgets that will work marvels during a honey flow, central heating systems for use during winter, twenty first century beekeeping with a vengeance! Yet deniably he finds that his honey yields do not or ever match his beekeeping inventiveness.

The Learned, Theoretical Type

The learned, theoretical type is the one who has read everything ever published and knows all the answers. He searches the Internet daily to keep abreast of beekeeping, to the annoyance of all the beekeepers he meets. And, yet he manages somehow to get someone else to do all his bee manipulations for him, for speak it softly, he is scared to death of real live bees.

The Quiet Type

The quiet type is the one who attends summer and winter meetings fairly regularly, seldom has much to say and seems to timid or somewhat nervous to ask questions or advice. But when you see his bees, what a sight! Bees, bees and plenty of them. No shortage of stores, grand stocks that can ?bring the nectar home in buckets? if the weather is good. He never has use of feeders, ?I let them have a shallow super of stores to winter on,? he tells you. You realise he doesn?t need advice, that all he wants is good weather. His quiet manner hides a store of really sound knowledge of his bees, their ways as well as a whole lot of confidence in his own methods which he has tried and tested and that in his view have stood the test of time.

The Assured Type

This is the type who can handle bees with little or no difficulty at all. They are at home over a beehive whether using smoke, a hand water spray or a veil-with-a-slot-for-a-pipe smoking beekeeper. They come prepared, sometimes with a sweatband or neckerchief to keep perspiration out of their eyes, they discard gloves and they like to feel that their fingers are free to sense the gentleness of dealing with the bees. They wash their hands regularly whilst handling the combs as the bees sense this and behave themselves. The odd sting is washed off before the pheromones permeate the air. He is deliberate in his actions, he seems calm and purposeful; he knows what he is looking for, he finds the queen with ease. Such beekeepers are not moued up with ponderous bee suits that at the best of times look like an invader from a foreign planet. These operators are sent from heaven, they are a picture to watch, and those who chance to see them, know that they are indeed like angels visits, very rare.

The Bee-Farmer Type

Then there is the bee-farmer type who is not the man whose principle income comes from beekeeping, as they are usually in class of their own as their livelihood is at stake. No, it is the man with lots of stock. Strange, but he is usually regarded as the one who never gets into difficulties and whose methods must be more than usually reliable. This of course may not be entirely true and, while the many-hive man with his large outfit has more scope than the small man, and his beekeeping methods can be more flexible, when he gets into trouble, it can be most often big trouble. Good beekeeping bears no relationship to the size of an apiary.

Give me-any-sort-of-livestock Type

This is the type who has kept everything in his time, hens, rabbits, goats, geese, and pigs who adds bees to the list with a ?they won?t get the better of me? attitude and approach. More often as not, he is the sort of person who comes by his bees easily; the gift of an unwanted swarm or a cheap buy from a beekeeper leaving the district. His knowledge of bees is at best nil, but his ever-cocksureness makes up for it. In essence he is a person with no real interest in bees. He needs watching, for until such time as the bees do really get the better of him and he reverts to his more larger and amenable forms of livestock, he is likely to encourage both annoyance and disease. However, there are those amongst us who have or did have other livestock, and they are the exception; they are true stockmen with animal husbandry that is second nature to them, as most of them know the physiology of their bees to the same extent as their other farm stock.

The Anxious and the Contented Type

Every season we meet the anxious type of beekeeper, the type who cannot rest, and will not let his bees rest either. He is continually disturbing his colonies, anxious about their stores, whether to give fondant / candy, their queen, their brood and anxious about signs of swarming.
In essence he is anxious about everything. To be sure his bees will give him cause for anxiety just as long as he continues to worry over them. In contrast we have the contented type who has done all he can at the right time and can do no more; who sees that feeding is completed in the early autumn, who knows how many combs his bees cover, knows the age of the queen and knows that she is still there. He knows he can forget about them for the time being. Problems are studied as they arise; solutions are calmly worked out and put into practice. Manipulations are carried out when, and only when they are called for, and beekeeping is regarded as a serene and tranquil pastime.
 

jimbeekeeper 

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Part 2

The Type who has a system that he can?t simply lose

We are almost forgetting the type, who like racing enthusiasts (the horse type) has a system, which simply can?t-lose. Beekeeping systems for him are concerned with getting honey, with rearing queens and with stopping swarming. He very often comes unstuck. You can be sure that this type of beekeeper will try any and every system that he hears and comes across, and is in practice, just the opposite of systematic.

The Fisherman?s Tale Type

This is the one who holds forth at association meetings, drawing an audience of new and inexperienced beekeepers with ?fishermen?s tales? of his honey-takes, irrespective of the season, or the area where he keeps his bees and so forth. Some are theatrical types, whilst others have a natural knack of being listened to as great saviours of beekeeping. When most beekeepers have a moderate season, this type of beekeeper throws modesty to the wind! They have extracted ten supers per hive (without the hives having left the apiary) and two supers from the heather (all without extra management), and whilst you deal in pounds harvested, they deal in tonnes. Yet when the local association calls for honey to support a local event, they have none to spare; they have to supply shops at premium prices, as it would be foolish to sell in a market at a reduced rate. ?We?re not daft you know?. To all intents and purposes, they fool some newcomers part of the time, but never the whole time. Very often the request from a newcomer to-go-a-beekeeping with them, to learn from these erudite members of the association, is met with excuses that would leave most politicians speechless.

The ?Know-All? at the Association?s Lecture Meeting

Then there is the type who cannot resist undermining the visiting lecturer at an association?s meeting. This he does by pulling apart the lecturer?s topic in front of an audience of mixed abilities and knowledge. Such behaviour is an embarrassment to the chairman of the meeting. Having experienced this behaviour myself, it is no wonder that people are no longer prepared to give lectures, to turn out on dark, cold, wet evenings, having probably travelled a long distance and returning home almost at midnight. They often find, that having given up an evening, no doubt in much cosier surroundings, having spent a couple of evenings preparing for the discourse, that the meeting is poorly attended.

The Politician Type

This is the type whose skills are anything but beekeeping; they are the ones who attend the association?s annual general meeting by chance and become members on the spot. By his very nature, he is essentially a committeeman and politician. Quick to his feet, with an instant answer to any argument, unrelenting in his pursuit of an opponent, his forcefulness of character allows him to have a ready speech and a readiness to circumvent regulations. By their temperament, they quickly tire of parochial interests to become big shots in beekeeping affairs at county and national levels. They are the type who has endless quantities of time and energy, a driving force, which thrives on opposition with a tremendous urge to succeed. His forceful personality quite often holds back the timorous, those members who are quite happy to help out, who are content to be involved with little or no ambition to be leaders. It can be the quiet type that really makes an association tick.

The Widow?s Comforter Type

Then there is the widow?s comforter type. This is the type who (he seems to know just when to arrive) calls in at the most appropriate time to relieve a grieving widow of her cares and worries in respect of the disposal her departed husband?s beekeeping wares. This he does by selecting the best stuff for himself and disposing the rest at a mere fraction of its true value. Fortunately, the beekeeping auction assists in the disposal of departed beekeepers? merchandise, whether the equipment is good or indifferent. Such events serve everyone, the seller gets the market price, the buyer is generally satisfied and the association gets a welcome commission to boost its funds, with those who knew the beekeeper feeling satisfied that his family has been justly served.

The ?Leave Alone? Type

Fortunately the leave-alone type is a beekeeper of the pre-varroa age, a beekeeper of the past. The possible only virtue for the arrival of the varroa mite is the passing of the ?leave-alone? type of beekeeper. In the days before the arrival of the parasitic mite, this beekeeper was a menace; he rarely if ever looked at his bees below the queen excluder from one year to the next and he never undertook an annual change-of-comb regime of brood combs, so the combs became cemented into the hive runners, making it nigh impossible to get combs out without breaking the lugs, and thus getting the bees upset in the process. The swarming and casting of his bees created a nuisance to an unsuspecting public, who at best are ignorant of a bee?s natural habits of reproduction. These swarms come out and hang in places like chimney stacks, the roof under drawing or as easy finds for youngsters to throw bricks at; and as the weather changes, they still hang around, getting hungry and becoming bad tempered. Fortunately swarms are no longer as prevalent as they were a decade or more ago, so the nuisance factor has almost disappeared.

The Rarest Type

This beekeeper is in the main the lone type. Most beekeepers I have come across over the years, although different in many respects are alike in one. They are neighbourly folk and eager to help one another. Fired by a common interest, which in most cases is enthusiasm, something I have found infectious, they mix easily. There is little room for the one who will not fit into the community.

The Lady Beekeeper

We must not overlook our opposites in the gender stakes, what about the ladies? It has to be said that all the beekeeping types mentioned previously are presumed to be male beekeepers. My great aunt Alice was a great beekeeper, and neither bee nor man ever got the better of her . I witnessed this first hand. In the main they are as a rule gentler than their male counterparts, as they manipulate with great care. It may be of course that they have greater fear of the effects of a severe stinging, therefore keeping rather more than the usual half-eye upon a troublesome bee. However, I can truthfully say, all the female beekeepers that I have encountered are / were of the very best . Like lots of lady beekeepers, they believed that there were very few men who could teach them much about the craft . In respect of the economical side of beekeeping, it is a certainty that women do have a more practical outlook than men, and they are more likely to balance their time and money spent against the return of honey and wax. As aunty Alice?s husband warned me at a tender age, rightly in his case, ?Wives are always right, that?s why we cherish them so much.?

The Writer Type
And, finally, there is the writer type?whose bees are mainly in his bonnet, but who cares, anyhow?
 

Jenxy 

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I have really enjoyed reading that... very observational and entertaining... must have taken ages to write.
 

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