Now that Fall is here, honey is harvested and most of us are buttoning up our colonies for the winter, what is a beekeeper to do with all that new-found time?
There is lots you can do: Get caught up on all your reading by gather up your scattered beekeeping magazines/journals, maybe the book you impulsively bought and haven’t opened? Maybe you are a woodworker and you can set up for making next year’s equipment? Of course, you could finally get after all the household repairs and chores that were put off during the summer.
I suggest you consider one more activity. Check out your local bee club. Maybe even join it. If are already a member of a club, attend a meeting. A local beekeeping organization is a wonderful resource for beekeepers regardless of experience!
How is this so?
If you are a new beekeeper, you will meet other new beekeepers who have the exact same questions you have on what you saw and experienced this season. They are facing the winter with the same concerns. At the meeting, you will be able to ask your questions and receive an answer (or two) from more experienced beekeepers - and this is important - from your local area.
If you haven’t heard it before, all beekeeping is local. As you read that book or watch that YouTube video and listen to that beekeeper, look at and consider their surroundings. Do they live where you do? Are they located in the midwest and you are in the northeast? Are they in Florida and you in Oregon? Do their bees experience the world with identical weather, season after season?
Yes, you are both keeping bees in boxes… but the environment is different, timing is different. The small variances in management adaptations make a big difference on whether or not your bees survive the change of seasons or strong enough to produce surplus honey. I argue that a beekeeper who’s local to you and has kept their bees through multiple seasons is a more valuable resource to you as a beekeeper than any book or any YouTube video.
If you are an experienced beekeeper who hasn’t joined a club or joined one but doesn’t attend meetings… break out of your stasis and give back to other beekeepers. If you’ve been keeping bees for years and years, you have a wealth of experience that can help newer beekeepers! Share it!
I know, not every bee club works for every beekeeper. Check to see if there is another bee club nearby. You may consider joining the State beekeeping organization. There is a bee club that will be a good fit for you!
Oh! And one last benefit of a bee club, when it comes time to move a bee yard, you will know who you can call to help! Just be ready to lend your hand when they call you!