Knowing Nothing

He might teach you something.

When I wrote my book Bad Beekeeping, the title came to me as a response to meeting a pompous, self-absorbed beekeeper. You know the sort – the person with a year or two experience who has an undeservedly inflated ego. Such a fellow is likely to write a book about his idea of brilliant beekeeping. But if he persists at keeping bees, he may eventually discover that he doesn’t really know very much. My favourite beekeeping adage is “Beekeeping is an activity where you start out knowing everything and as the years pass, you figure out you know less and less. Eventually, you realize that you don’t know anything at all.” The next time you meet a beekeeper who confidently has all the answers, remind yourself of that adage. Then slowly back away from that expert’s fountain of wisdom.

If you would like to avoid the pitfalls of knowing everything, there are two things that might fix you. (1) You can keep blundering along with an attitude of smarty-pants-ness and after enough years, your confidence will break and you will become a better beekeeper. Or (2) you can seek out a local beekeeper who seems to have a humble demeanor and years of experience. Marry him/her. If that’s not to your liking, see if you can be adopted. Whatever it takes, stick around like granulated honey. Offer to carry a hive tool. Smoke her bees. There is really no better or faster way to learn to be a beekeeper. Our local bee club has a mentor program. Perhaps yours does, too. You can hook up with someone who needs help and offers training. Good luck with your education. May you one day discover that you know nothing. And that’s not such a bad thing. It keeps beekeeping interesting.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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