Over the past few years I have seen what some would call an attitude problem towards bee keeping; personally I call it unacceptable and if you talk to most people who are involved with bees they will call these people GRUBS. Bees are a living creature and need to be taken care of just like any other creature on the planet. Some people just get into bee keeping because of a status symbol and others get into bee keeping so they can get free honey. If your main intention of becoming a bee keeper is to get honey, please don’t. Personally I would advise you to either become friends with a bee keeper so you know you’re getting real honey with no added crap in it and you will also know it’s RAW. The second choice – from time to time bee keepers like myself will be after sites and if you have a property that is suitable you will be compensated with honey. I have been around bees most my life, Native and European, and not a day goes past where I skip the chance to go outside and sit with these amazing creatures – every animal on the planet depends on them for their survival.
Every day I am amazed by watching a new bee get born or in the afternoon watching the young bees learn to fly out the front of the hives. I have attached a few photos of a hive which was closed up and as you can see there are NO Bees, NO Food and even the wax has been chewed on. This hive belonged to what people in the industry call a GRUB. Tens of thousands of bees starved to death due to the bee keeper not opening the hive entrance after they moved it. It is also apparent that they did not check on the hive in the weeks, possibly months, which passed after the entrance was closed. This is not how you treat any animal, especially bees
which life depends on. Albert Einstein stated that if we lose our bees, life would last around four years on the planet. This is only the tip of the iceberg which I have come across over the past few years on the Coast. Keeping bees isn’t just placing them in a hive and robbing out the honey for your own enjoyment, there is a lot of work which goes into keeping an apiary site healthy. If you do not have the experience to understand and detect pests and disease, know the appropriate steps to firstly prevent and secondly how to manage problems when they arise then one should get assistance until they are confident. Even to this day I still ring up my peers and ask for advice, confirm something I might not be sure about or to get a second opinion on something. A well established bee club with experienced members can also be a valuable resource to amateur / novice bee keepers.
Below is a photo previously posted on our Facebook page of a hive with hundreds of Small Hive Beetles. This pest is easily controlled with the use of traps and bottom boards, to have this many in a hive is also unacceptable practice. Luckily for this hive I got to it in time and rehoused it into a Langstroth hive and within a few months it was producing large amounts of surplus honey. To this day I am still perplexed as to how some hessian was going to control the small hive beetle. Now some people might be asking what is so bad about this beetle. Well, in a nut shell, if they are able to have large numbers congregate in a hive and they start laying eggs the larva – which looks like a maggot – will eat its way through all the honey and brood (Bee eggs and larva) and you will lose your hive. This is what we call a slime out. The big problem for other bee keepers is when the maggots crawl out of the hive they hit the dirt and turn into new beetles which can fly up to 15 km looking for a new hive. As you can see if a bee keeper does not do the right thing and control these beetles they impact on other bee keepers.
Leaving out honey, feeding birds with honey, dropping wax on the ground and leaving hive gear out is another unacceptable practice and is also against the Apiary Act. As seen in this photo the person here decided that they would leave out the frames and other bee equipment so the bees would clean up the honey for them. AFB (American Foul Brood) is a death sentence to your bees and this is a sure fire way to spread it. AFB can not move itself, either robbing bees or cross contamination from the bee keeper will spread it from one hive to the next. They say you’re not a bee keeper till you get AFB and trust me when you get it and you have to poison your bees to stop the spread of it, it is totally gut wrenching. We were talking to a DPI apiary officer earlier this year and we were informed that AFB is running rank this year in Queensland. AFB is detected in the brood and if a bee keeper is doing regular disease checks then such a massive outbreak can easily be avoided. Unfortunately I have come across a Real GRUB of a person who I would not even consider as a bee keeper now who knew he had hives infected with AFB or EFB and they had done nothing about it. Basically they said they firstly did not want to kill the bees yet because they could not afford to get new ones and they were still getting honey from them. Secondly they were annoyed with everyone else and started the blame game for getting Foul Brood so they were hoping that others in the neighborhood would also get AFB. I was shocked being told this after giving them a hand with their hives and mentioning to them that they had some form of Foul Brood. Luckily the hives have been dealt with and are no longer a source of possible contamination. Just by looking at honey you can not tell if it has Foul Brood there for leaving out honey, feeding birds with it in the open where bees can get to it or dropping wax or other hive material on the ground where bees can rob this material is unacceptable practice.
In conclusion, if you’re new to bee keeping get help, talk to your peers, get a mentor to help you out. Get into this exhilarating hobby for the bees, don’t chase the honey. If you have the mentality of chasing the honey you will fail time and time again. If you take care of these precious creatures and they are happy the honey will come eventually. If you know of someone who treats their bees like this speak up, we’re still losing bees way to fast on this planet, all the poisons, loss of habitat and food certainly does not help. Mono culture is not healthy for any pollinating insect. Then you have Mother Nature throwing drought after drought at them then floods. As you can see they are having a damn hard time and they do not need GRUBS who want a status symbol or a free feed of honey to add to the problem.