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Beekeeping Systems

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"...avoid the mistake of attempting to follow several leaders or systems. Much confusion and annoyance will be saved if he adopts the teachings, methods, and appliances of some one successful beekeeper. He may make the mistake of not choosing the best system, but better this than a mixture of several systems."--W.Z. Hutchinson, Advanced Bee Culture


One of the problems in giving beekeeping advice is that we beekeepers tend to give advice based on our system of beekeeping. In other words the advice, by our experience, works in our system of beekeeping. The problem is that this assumes that it will work just as well out of that context and in the context of someone else's system. Sometimes it does. But often it does not.


For example, if my system is to use both upper and lower entrances and a queen excluder and I tell you to wait until you have some bees working the supers to put the excluder on, and your system is to have only a bottom entrance, and you do this, you'll trap a lot of drones in the supers and plug up the excluder with dead drones trying to get out.

Another obvious example would be if I run all the same sized frames and you run deeps for brood and shallows for supers. I tell you the way to get bees working the supers is to bait them up with a frame of brood. Except your brood frames won't fit. Or I tell you to top off their stores by putting some frames of honey in the brood boxes, except your frames of honey are all in shallows and your brood are all deeps.


Local also plays an important role in your system. Click here for more on "Locality".


These are simple and obvious but there are many less obvious ones. The fact is that picking and choosing beekeeping techniques from several systems can lead to problems. There is nothing wrong with developing your own system of beekeeping eventually but you need to make sure you learn and understand a system first and know why you are doing what you are doing and then tweak it to meet your needs and your philosophy a little at a time.

Michael Bush

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Copyright 2009 by Michael Bush

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