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When asking five beekeepers a question about bees or beekeeping you often get five different answers. And all of them have their reasoning to support them.

And not one of the answers has ever been confirmed by bees!

We cannot ask bees a question in a way they understand, nor do we understand what they are telling us. All our knowledge about bees is based on experience, observations, conclusions, assumptions.

Last but not least, all answers, advice and actions are influenced by motivation.

What do we know about Bees?
An element of speculation has historically been part of our knowledge about bees and always will be. Through observation and research our knowledge is evolving over time. What we nowadays know about bees is different to what it was hundred years ago, and in hundred years from now our knowledge about bees will be better again.

It could also be wrong drawing the conclusion that the knowledge of a beekeeper who has kept bees for over fifty years is better, compared with someone who is into it for only a few years. Whilst the practical experience plays an important part, it also depends how much time and effort you invest to update your knowledge, along with an open mind to accept new discoveries by others.

A beekeeper with 2,000 or more beehives who makes a living from his/her hives has a different perspective on beekeeping as a hobby beekeeper with two hives in the backyard. What motivates one beekeeper might be irrelevant for another and is not necessarily relevant for the bees.

When for example, a big commercial beekeeper recommends the prophylactic use of antibiotics as part of winter preparation it might be the right answer from his/her perspective, but is not necessarily the right answer for the hobby beekeeper, and probably not the answer the bees are looking for.

Whatever the motivation is for keeping bees, beekeeping can only be sustainable when it has benefits for both, the bees and the beekeeper.

Commercial gain can be a motivation; although when maximising honey yield, the approach to beekeeping is different as when maximising pollination contracts, and different again when rearing and selling queen bees. Some beekeepers might keep a few hives in an apple orchard to improve crop yield as the main objective but don't interact with the bees otherwise. Some others might keep a beehive in the backyard with the aim to harvest some honey at the end of the season without any further interaction with the bees. Someone might want to keep a hive of very friendly bees in the backyard to introduce his/her kids or grandkids to the wonders of nature, watching and observing them regularly and closely, outside and inside the hive and maybe getting some honey every now and then as a bonus.

Our motivation is driven by our fascination for these amazing little creatures, interacting with and caring for each of our hives and providing them with a healthy environment in which they can grow and prosper, supporting them with the best of our abilities in their challenge to survive our "modern way of life".

Bees are adaptable and whatever we do interacting with bees can either help or work against them.

Bees survive despite what we sometimes do to them.

The difference between bees and humans:
Bees are trying to adapt to the environment.
We humans are trying to change our environment to suit us.

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