In this day and age, consumers have the expectations that words like “quick and easy” and the ones to look for when purchasing anything. After all, “quick and easy” mean that less time and effort need to be expended by them to hopefully achieve the desired results.
Traditionally it is no different in the beekeeping world. An online or catalog consumer can shop at numerous beekeeping supply companies and see many options for purchasing hives and bees ranging from cheap to very expensive. And the majority of these catalog companies are up front in their efforts to inform the public what is involved with getting started with the hobby to the extent that they wouldn’t want to dissuade you from making a purchase.
But beekeeping IS one of those hobbies where quick, easy, and cheap solutions DON’T really exist and eventually turn more people away then draw people in. It probably used to be that easy but the world’s changed. Bees started dying and what was once a rewarding hobby and side business quicly became a thankless task.
Many consumers enter the hobby by purchasing a package of bees and a queen and then an inexpensive “nuc” (short for nuclear. a smaller 5 frame starter transport hive), or smaller single Deep hive to break into the hobby in a cost effective way to see if they like it. Heck, even a local grocery chain started offering nucs last year in our area. The excited buyer will receive basic instructions on what to do to introduce the bees into the nuc, place it in their yard or garden, and then watch their bees go to work. And be happy. For about five weeks.
Bees being what they are, they’ll get to work pollinating, collecting nectar to bring back to the hive and the Queen will start laying brood to replace the bees that die from natural attrition. But! Within a few short weeks of laying several thousand eggs a day, that little five-frame nuc is out of space. The bees realize this and look for a residence with more space or just die off. Please see our Swarm page HERE. The budding beekeeper comes out one day and finds that they have no bees and a loss of their investment.
Why’d this happen? Because they didn’t have the education to realize that bees need space, bees multiply just a tad faster than humans, and consumers aren’t really tuned to reading small print explanations in catalogs (if offered) about what they’ll need in reality to make their hives a success.
What has happened here is that, because a bee supply company sold you a small hive and some bees to make some profit, the beekeeping world has just lost several thousand bees and the interest of a novice beekeeper who, chances are, won’t repeat the investment and try again learning from their mistakes. It sure does seem like all we talk about are the tragedies of the bee world, huh? Not in defense of those companies but, because of climate change, beekeeping has changed to where how you do it depends on where you live and and can vary county to county.
The simple fact is that beekeeping is not easy and doesn’t respond well at all to shortcuts. It is a hobby that needs to be approached seriously with some dedication on the part of the consumer. While there are products out there that make enjoying our hobby easier, and the bee supply companies are offering very valuable services in supplying quality equipment quickly and easily, consumers need to realize that there is no $200 one time expense to break into the hobby and be successful.
O.K. Now Some Good News! Here at Eco Honeybees, we also believe in things like cheap and easy. But we approach it to the extent that we exist to help make a client’s hive flourish over the long term by working hard to supply the right equipment up front and offer to assist with proper maintenance over the course of the season. Doing things right the first time simply prevents a consumer from having to do everything all over again once or even two to three times before they get it right.
We’re very up front with our clients in telling them not only what is going to be needed up front but also what they’re going to need over the course of the season as their hive grows. With the proper support and advice in hand, the price of becoming a successful hive owner comes back down to reality simply because costly mistakes are avoided, and more novice hive owners are brought into the fold as opposed to being scared away by the daunting task of creating and maintaining a successful hive.
That is what is so very different about the direction Eco Honeybees is taking in the Washington, DC area beekeeping world. We’re less interested in selling bees and hives but more intensely focused on making the hives we supply flourish for their owners and benefit the whole area. Neither the environment nor the consumer benefits from a hive that will survive for only a month or two. The joy of beekeeping and the repair of our ecosystem depend entirely on creating beehives that survive over the long run.
This is the revolution we've started in the Metro DC area. Our clients have found an easy way to get the beehive they want without the costs and time involved in making mistakes. The local environment gets the bees it so desperately needs. And the bees themselves get the best care and nurturing that they so rightfully deserve. Everybody wins!