Navigate / search

Seven types of beekeeping advice to avoid

Hive by Lori Leaumont.

Having trouble sorting through all the conflicting beekeeping information? Can’t tell fact from fiction? If so, you are not alone. Here is a list of criteria I use myself:

  1. Be wary of advice containing the words “always” or “never.” Very few things in life are so simple, especially beekeeping.
  2. Be wary of advice with an unknown origin. What works in the rainforest might not work in the desert. What works in Oklahoma might not work in Alberta. Remember, all beekeeping is local.
  3. Be wary of advice that includes the phrase, “Bees survived just fine without us for millions of years.” The statement is true as far as it goes, but bees are no longer “without us.” They now have us and all our trappings, including pollution, pesticides, agriculture, habitat loss, climate change, freeways, urban sprawl, monocultures, and congress. It is not the same world they evolved in.
  4. Be suspicious of advice that isn’t backed with a reason. There should be an explanation for why something works—or at least a theory of why it works. You can then evaluate the advice based on the reasoning behind it. “Just because” is not a reason . . . which leads me to the next point.
  5. Ignore advice when the reason is “My grandfather did it that way for 57 years and never lost a hive.” That is not a reason, that is a story. The world is changing. Your grandfather wrote with pen and ink for 57 years too, but that doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you.
  6. Be wary of curmudgeons, or let’s call them beemudgeons. These are people who give advice that contradicts whatever you are currently doing. They are know-it-alls who know nothing and get attention by saying the opposite. If you change, they change. They breed faster than mites and hang out in places where they can inflict the most damage (like bee clubs).
  7. Be wary of advice that contradicts your instincts. Maybe it doesn’t feel right, maybe it makes you uncomfortable. If so, don’t jump in without more research. We all come into beekeeping with life experiences that influence what we know and what we believe. Trust yourself. If the advice doesn’t sit well, look for another solution. And remember, all beekeeping is personal.




And a piece of advice that stands me in good stead: ‘You should always know why you are opening your hive’. It is easy to get into the habit of doing so. Opening a hive can cause problems as well as avoid some. It can interfere with the bees work setting them back I believe up to 36 hours. Regular observation outside the hive provides extra clues – and I love my polycarbonate quilts which can allow a quick peak to check whether fondant has been used up or just to get a quick snapshot across the top of the brood or super to assess number of bees and volume of activity.

Carry on the good work. Your comments are always thought provoking.


Hi Rusty,

Today I have found the queen from a colony dead outside the hive. She is intact and appears in good condition. Do you think, she has just died, and they have removed her, or, could it be she was superseded late last year and they have waited to see how the new queen is performing?

I haven’t looked inside the hive, as it was late in the day and the temperature dropping here in the north of England.

Many thanks for your response.


Hey Cathy,

I don’t think honey bees do A/B product testing on their queens, although it’s not a bad idea. My guess it that the queen you found died recently. Next time you get a chance, look for a queen, queen cells, or eggs and try to figure out what is going on. The bees may try to raise a queen, but of course you will need drones flying if she is to mate. If not, you may have to buy a queen.

Leave a comment


email* (not published)