The responsibilities of a beekeeper

Jim Tew’s presentations to the Blount County Beekeepers Association meeting on Monday provoked my thinking about the responsibilities we take on when we call ourselves beekeepers.

So just what are those responsibilities?

A honeybee on a buckwheat bloom
A honeybee on a buckwheat bloom

To my mind, there are three:

Providing a home for the bees . . .

. . . as long as they will accept it. We should do everything possible to help them do what they are built to do. We should do it as gently and as naturally as possible. One of the main things we can do is provide them with an immediate environment that is clean and abundant with healthy sources of nutrition and material for hive building.


Learning all we can . . .

. . . about these fascinating creatures. We have placed the label on bees of “superorganism,” and indeed that’s what a bee is. We have begun to unlock a few of their secrets, but as Jim Tew pointed out on Monday, there are many things we do not know. Bees have been around for millions of years. They have survived pests, climate changes and even human interventions. Honeybees have built social systems that are complex and adaptable. How have these little creatures done all that? As beekeepers, we should continue to seek answers and support those who do.


Advocating for bees . . .

. . . and other pollinators. Today’s environment is difficult for them, and we should be doing everything we can to serve them just as they serve us.

Even is someone is not committed to the first of these responsibilities — providing a home for the bees — that person can be a beekeeper in a true sense by undertaking the second and third.


Key words: Jim Tew, Blount County Beekeepers Association, responsibilities of beekeepers, beekeeping, advocating for bees, superorganism, pollinators, difficult environment for bees

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