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Contrary Opinions in Beekeeping

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There is an old saying in beekeeping that has a few variations but it goes something like this: “Ask ten beekeepers, get twelve opinions.” Obviously beekeepers don’t always agree. But on some topics they get downright stubborn. You will find one group who adamantly insists that something can’t work and another group who say the exact opposite--that if you don’t do it the bees will all die.

Whenever you see contrary opinions about any issue in beekeeping, the odds are both sides are wrong. Especially if both are telling you there is no other way that works except theirs and they are doing opposite things. And especially if the beekeeping world is very divided on the issue. In other words there are a lot of people on both sides of the issue. People often get their deeply held opinions from their own experience and the results of their own experience is often very strongly influenced by the current conditions. For instance, if it was a flow or a dearth results would be very different. Most things seem to work in a flow. Most things seem to fail in a dearth. There is also just the luck of the draw. Many beekeepers when they start make the mistake of trying one thing with one hive and a different thing with the other hive and then coming to a conclusion that is based on something unrelated. Any beekeeper who has ever treated two hives identically knows that the results are not identical.

Logic says that there can’t be that many beekeepers with opposite views of something that both insist the other view cannot work at all. So if you’re trying to decide on one of these kinds of issues, think through the differences of the people with those opinions. What do the people on each side have in common? If the only thing they have in common is they are beekeepers, maybe it just doesn’t matter, but if most of one side are from a cold climate and most of the other side are not, you might want to consider that in your decision. The same for other differences. Maybe one side tend to be commercial and the other hobbyists. If you can’t find any difference, take your pick or experiment. But don’t lose too much sleep over it. If either of the two failed much of the time there wouldn’t be so many people advocating for that side.

Michael Bush

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Copyright 2001-2018 by Michael Bush

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