Origin of my beekeeping blog

We all make mistakes. And if you think you don’t, you’re a liar, ignorant, delusional or all three.

In fact, if we’re honest with ourselves, we make lots of them, especially when we’re new at something.

It’s not whether you’ll make a mistake; it’s when. You can let it disillusion you, or you can learn from it. I choose the latter.

That’s why I started my beekeeping blog – to log all my errors and mistakes and learn from them.

You might even say this Blog of Blunders is my gateway to success.

My blog is called The Hive Mind. I called it that because of the obvious connection between bees, hives and working together as a team, and also as a nod to Star Trek, since I’m a hardcore fan.

The address is beehivemind.com because hivemind was taken.

Why a beekeeping blog

Why did I decide to do a blog in the first place?

First, my initial reason was as a place to keep my hive inspection logbook. Paper gets lost, and I wanted a platform that I could access from anywhere.

Second, I like new stuff, electronic stuff, social media stuff, etc., and I like learning about them. So why not combine them. In addition, I really need to have more than a passing knowledge about social media as part of my day job, and the blog provided me a way to learn more.

Third, I’ve never been real disciplined when it comes to keeping a journal. I knew my intensions were good to keep regular beekeeping notes and blog them regularly. I also knew my track record didn’t necessarily indicate future success. Frankly, I thought long periods of inactivity looked bad. Still do.

Fourth, even though I initially thought of this blog as a place to document my hive inspections, it turned out I was more interested in learning new things. I wanted to talk about that, too.

Yesterday also marks the first day I attached my name to my blog. Before, I was always simply “beehivemind.”

Why the change? Mostly because I’m going to a WordPress conference at the end of the October. I also signed up for an online blogging fundamentals workshop from WordPress’ Blogging University, both of which required a name.

Past blog subjects

As indicated, my blog soon became an eclectic mix of beekeeping subjects ranging from how my hives were doing on a particular inspection, to a book review, to how I dealt with finding out I was deathly allergic to bees.

My posts have been pretty varied.

They’ve also been pretty infrequent. The main reason is that I write for a living. By the time I get home, I’m all written out, and there are plenty of things I need to be doing around the house.

Subject and audience for future posts

I’d like to continue presenting a mix of materials that interest me as a relatively new beekeeper. The more I know, the more I have to learn. I suppose many other beekeepers – novice and experienced alike – are the same.

In addition to myself, this blog is for them.

Beekeeping is as much art as it is science. As such, there are multiple opinions on how to do any one thing, depending on who you ask. Personally, I like seeing different opinions and learning enough about them to pick the one I think will be most effective for my situation.

In return, I want to connect with other beekeepers to learn from their inevitable mistakes. If they’re anything like me, I’ll be learning LOTS from them.

Book Review: Garden Plants for Honey Bees by Peter Lindtner


Not all plants are created equal. Forsythia bush by http://www.plantright.org

This year I started keeping a calendar of flowering plants. My purpose was to see what was blooming when so I could plant a variety of pollen- and nectar-producing, bee-friendly flowers, bushes and trees around my house.

Spring comes early in eastern Washington. And one of the first on my blooming calendar was the Forsythia with its bright yellow blossoms. It’s always a sure sign spring is here.

For me, it’s also been a sure sign my bees are getting a good supply of pollen and nectar.

How wrong I was.

The pollen and nectar may have been flowing, but not from Forsythia. As pretty as it is, it has no pollen and no nectar.

Bees totally ignore Forsythia and many other flowering plants – a fact I didn’t know before reading Garden Plants for Honey Bees by Peter Lindner.

I assumed most, if not all, flowering vegetation provided pollen and nectar for bees. Unlike me, Lindtner observed that no bees were buzzing around his Forsythia. That’s when he realized not all plants are created equally.

Garden Plants for Honey Bees by Peter Lindtner

Garden Plants for Honey Bees by Peter Lindtner

His new book (2014 Wicwas Press) is a month-by-month, alphabetical listing of bee-friendly plants. It’s richly illustrated with plant and pollen photographs, including scanning electron microscope images of pollen.

In addition to providing photos in each plant description, Lindtner has evaluated each plant by its nectar and pollen resource – one star (*) being the least resourceful and five stars (*****) being the most resourceful.

Plants not listed may still be a source for honey bees and bumble bees, but they are considered of lesser value. According to Lindtner, “their flowers produce nectar with less sugar or they don’t secrete nectar at all, like Forsythia. Or they produce pollen poor in proteins, like grasses and evergreens. Even attractive plants with big colorful petals, like the Magnolia soulangeana, can be useless.”

As beekeepers, we need to ensure our bees have access to adequate supplies. I realize the limits of what one can do if living in the city on a quarter-acre lot. But be aware of what’s in your neighborhood and what you can recommend to people who want to plant bee-friendly flowers, shrubs and trees or should be planting them.

Fortunately, I have the room to plant bee-friendly plants. Unfortunately, I need to replace dozens of old, dying poplar trees. Fortunately, I discovered Garden Plants for Honey Bees and can dispense with my own calendar. It’s an excellent source of the best of what blooms when. It’s also a good resource for beekeeping clubs and personal libraries.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen is a list of plants to specifically avoid. But that hardly detracts from the book’s value.

I purchased my copy at Ruhl Bee Supply in Gladstone, Oregon, for $34.It lists for $47, but it’s available from the Wicwas Press, Amazon.com and, I’m sure, other book retailers and bee supply companies for $34 or less.

Oh, and Wicwas says it’s “suitable for the coffee table.”

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