One part of beekeeping that is appealing for some is that the adapting never stops. A lot of data is accessible to you on the web and that substance is ever extending.
Learning Together and Forever
Be that as it may, any online substance is extremely only there to launch and increase what you really gain from your honey bees. Every one of your colonies, regardless of whether your first or you’re hundredth, will have its subtleties and sporadically send you the famous curveball.
Now and again these are minor things that you have never observed and are basically an oddity. A model may be the settlement that chooses to make brush outside and underneath the hive. It’s uncommon, yet it can occur.
At the other extraordinary are calamitous occasions that could clear out a hive or considerably more. Whatever the circumstance and regardless of how critical, there is a chance to learn.
Quite a bit of what you find out about beekeeping is neighbourhood. This isn’t just an announcement of geographic area. Indeed, even inside a solitary nursery, beekeepers can encounter very various things with their honey bees.
Perhaps the most intelligent response to this mission for information in an ever-changing condition comes through beekeeping clubs and tutors.
Why Have a Mentor?
Having a mentor is complimentary to join a beekeeping club. Indeed, joining a club is an excellent way to find a mentor, though not the only way.
You can think of a mentor as a “personalized, one man/woman beekeeping club”! His or her expertise will be very valuable, but being able to physically view your own hives and ask specific questions can’t be beaten. This allows your mentor to consider the situation and make suggestions in an entirely contextual way, specific to your beehives.
Where to Find a Mentor?
The obvious channel is through a beekeeping club. Just make friends and identify someone who seems experienced, who’s the company you find enjoyable and who seems eager to help in any way he or she can.
Depending on your area, another way to find a great mentor is to strike up a conversation with a beekeeping neighbour. If you know the neighbour, get along well and trust his or her judgment you are basically there – just ask if s/he can help you and guide you. If you don’t know the person you should probably start with a simple opening question, just to gauge the level of experience, communication skills and willingness to help.
What to Look For in a Mentor
Different mentors offer different perspectives. For example, your mentor might be someone with experience managing a small number of hives. That person will emphasize certain aspects of beekeeping over others. For example, with a small number of hives s/he might have an interest in the aesthetic appeal of the hive, which some address by painting their hives.
Another choice of mentor might have a gift for managing a large number of hives. That mentor is likely to value factors like efficiency and speed.
Both of these mentors add value and you will need to decide, to some extent, which way you would like to take your beekeeping, to help with your choice of mentor.
A good mentor might be interested in the occasional shared project. Club members, of course, might have an interest in this too, but working one-on-one with a mentor who has close up experience of your own hives is great fun!
What is a Beekeeping Club?
With any side interest or side interest, it’s normal for similar people to meet up. Beekeeping is the same and there are countless clubs all through the nation, huge numbers of them very entrenched and a few decades old. Clubs, for the most part, have a particular territory in their title, a governing body and perceive other hierarchical posts, practically like a little organization.
The primary targets of most beekeeping clubs are to energize and bolster enthusiasm for beekeeping in the zone, just as to give a channel through which individuals can help one another. Contingent upon the sort of club, the club may well offer the periodic get-together as well.
How Can You Benefit from a Beekeeping Club?
In short – applied local knowledge. Much of what you learn as a beekeeper is generic and common across all beekeepers. That knowledge is very important. But some of the more valuable and essential information is local in nature. Examples include:
Understanding of local weather conditions
Expectations for the ebb-and-flow of a hive across a typical year
Local suppliers of bees
Access to locally bred bees
Swarm capture services (to potentially provide a swarm or as a way to register yourself to be alerted to swarms)
Zoning and other legal restrictions
Regional pest and pesticide issues
These are just some of the benefits associated with a local club. There are also obvious benefits from being around beekeepers with a wide range of experience, sometimes measured decades, in the local area. This can be invaluable and regular meetings can be a fun opportunity to engage with such esteemed beekeeping company.
Where Do You Find Beekeeping Clubs?
People often ask us how to find a local club. This is easier than you might imagine since there are so many around the country.
A good way to start is to search online for a statewide beekeeping club – like this. This example finds clubs in Texas and the very first one listed just happens to be The Texas Beekeepers Association. Browse around that site and you will soon find a list of Local Beekeepers Associations. That’s pretty straightforward and it is just as easy for other states.
Ways to Find A Good Beekeeping Mentor
If you’re just getting started with keeping bees, you’ll want someone to show you the ropes. It’s always wise to read up as much as you can before actually handling bees—learn about their social structure, hive dynamics, workers’ roles and everything the queen does. But as much as we love geeking out on our bee books, they can’t stand with us, watching our first hive inspections and lending a guiding set of eyes, ears or hands. For this, the new, aspiring beekeeper needs a mentor.
A beekeeping mentor is a seasoned beekeeper who has the time and availability to guide you, hands-on, through your first beekeeping season. Ideally, this person has been in the field long enough to feel comfortable with standard beekeeping practices and knows the domestic honeybee really, really well. If we’re making our beekeeping mentor wish list, you’d also want to find someone you connect with and jive with—someone who understands you respects you and will guide you through your chosen beekeeping practices, philosophically and physically.
1. Keep an Open Mind
Beekeeping mentors come in many forms and most of us will have the good fortune to have more than one throughout our beekeeping careers. Some may be older than you, others younger. You will meet some in person. Others you may encounter online. Some may move in and out of your life like a breeze with a single anecdote or piece of advice that changes beekeeping for you. Others have the potential to become a reliable part of your network of friends over time. All have value to new and experienced beekeepers able to keep an open mind.
2. Determine Compatibility
When meeting with a possible mentor, don’t evaluate them by experience alone. You should also consider what kind of beekeeper they are. What is their beekeeping philosophy? What are their goals? Are they focused on commercial aspects like honey production, pollination work or queen breeding? Or are they in it for love of the bees alone? Are they making an income from their beekeeping work or are they, hobbyists? What hive styles do work with? Are they open to beekeeping styles other than their own? Finding out the answers to questions like these may help you determine how compatible you are with your mentor and help you have a smoother, more enjoyable experience together.
3. Find a Peer Group to Help
In the absence of experienced mentors, a peer group can provide an excellent source of support for people just starting beekeeping. Consider starting a beekeeping book club with an eye toward building a mutual support community where nearby beekeepers can get to know each other over time. Seeking hands-on advice? Try organizing a local hive tour or series of roving inspections where a small group of beekeepers visits each others’ apiaries to observe different setups and hive handling techniques. Events like these provide invaluable opportunities to observe a range of situations, see who is thriving, who is struggling, and with the help of others, try to determine why. While expert advice from experienced beekeepers is often the most valuable input you can receive, when that is not available, try putting heads together with your peers to brainstorm solutions to your beekeeping problems. As your group matures and gains in experience, each individual participant has the potential to become a mentor moving forward, providing beekeeping guidance and support to those who come up after. Also, working side by side with other beekeepers to solve mutually interesting problems is a rewarding way to build relationships that can serve you over time.
4. Read A Book First
Before you begin the search for a mentor, you need to do a little work yourself. Your first step should be to read a book or take a class or both. It’s important that you have a basic understanding of beekeeping when you meet with potential mentors for a couple of different reasons. The first is that it will help you to communicate more clearly with your mentor and give you a better understanding of whatever arrangement the two of you come to. The second reason is that you do not want want to start out your beekeeping experience by relying 100% on your mentor. There are many ways to do things in beekeeping. You should find out what interests you and discuss this with anyone who might mentor you so you can find the best match. You can also use apps.
5. Join a Beekeeping Organization
A first step toward finding a beekeeping mentor is to check out your local beekeeping organization. If your area doesn’t have a local club, find a state or regional beekeeping organization to connect with. Most beekeeping groups offer some kind of organized mentoring for people starting beekeeping whether it is a workshop, conference, social media site, or online forum where you can ask questions and get answers. These organized, group opportunities are not only terrific sources of information, but they are also the places where you get to meet the people who may eventually become your mentors. Get out, attend events, ask questions and volunteer to get the most out of these meet-and-greet opportunities. And while you are there, pay attention to the more experienced beekeepers who respond to your questions. People who respond helpfully to your inquiries in a group setting are already mentoring you.
6. Word Of Mouth
Never underestimate the power of the word of mouth! If none of the above options has worked for you, you may have some good old-fashioned legwork to do. Ask around to anyone you may know who is connected in the farming community or who may know beekeepers. Visit your local homesteading supply stores, and ask there; they may even allow you to post to a bulletin board (so retro, I know).
Whatever you do, don’t give up. To be the best beekeeper you can mean getting started on the right foot. Having a mentor as you kick off that journey with offers you an unparalleled opportunity to learn the art of beekeeping in a very special way—together, with someone who knows and communes with bees.
7. Do Some Research
Videos, online forums, books, and articles offer a range of perspectives from the instructional to the more personal. Use these resources to get a feel for whether starting beekeeping and attending to its seasonal tasks is a good fit for you. You can make yourself more appealing to a potential mentor by acquiring a baseline of beekeeping knowledge and vocabulary. This will give you a better understanding of what you are asking more experienced beekeepers to do for you when you reach out to them for support.
8. Social Media
We are more connected than ever thanks to social media. As you get started with keeping bees, follow beekeepers on social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter, and, most importantly, join a local beekeeping group on Facebook. You can quickly and easily post that you’re in search of a mentor and be able to talk extensively with potential candidates before even meeting. Facebook’s chat and messenger option are great for real-time conversations in between real-time meetings with your mentor.
9. Set Expectations
It’s also important to set expectations. If you are paying your mentor, make sure you communicate what your goals are. If you are not paying your mentor, be sure to find out what they expect of you. It may be that a beekeeper is willing to teach you in exchange for help in their bee yard with no money changing hands, but what kind of help do they want? New beekeepers sometimes try to cherry-pick the best learning experiences, while skipping out on the more labour-intensive activities. For example, they may be eager to shadow during inspections but won’t make themselves available for an afternoon of building honey supers. This kind of behaviour can create resentment between you and your mentor. It’s best to know upfront what kind of work is expected of you in exchange for this learning experience.
10. Your County Extension Office
If your municipality doesn’t have a club but there’s a beekeeping chapter at your county extension office, start there. This free service is invaluable to beekeepers and gardeners alike. Visit or call their offices and ask them to spread the word; they may be able to share your information in a number of ways, such as those listed above. They may even have the names and contact information on file of available beekeepers who have offered to mentor newbies.
11. Vet Potential Mentors
It can be difficult to find any mentor at all so, if the opportunity arises, many new beekeepers enthusiastically accept the guidance without asking the proper questions. Not all beekeeping mentors have the same level or type of experience and it can be useful to know this background information from the start. Find out how long your potential mentor has been keeping bees and ask how many hives they manage. It’s also useful to know if they’ve ever mentored anyone before. If they have worked with other new beekeepers in the past, you may want to talk to them about their experience.
12. Establish A Clear Agreement
Don’t assume that an experienced beekeeper is willing to mentor you for nothing in exchange. There is an array of agreements that happen between new beekeepers and their mentors. Some charge hourly or monthly while others work in the trade or offer their knowledge for free. Find out the specifics of what your mentor is willing to offer. How often will you meet? Can you text them when you have questions? Will they sell you a colony in the spring? Whatever agreement you come to, make sure you both understand it before it starts. You may even want to put it in writing.
13. Your Local Beekeeping Club
If your town, city or neighbourhood has a beekeeping club, it’s your best bet for finding a good mentor. Local clubs usually hold meetings monthly, discussing pertinent topics as they relate to both local and global issues. For local issues, think things like current weather patterns and long stretches without food sources for your bees, and more. For global issues, think about the spread of Varroa destructor or new finds in honeybee research.
Beekeeping clubs are a great place to find members that are engaged, care about bees and want to see the next generation of beekeepers succeed. Speak to one of the board members about your search for a mentor, and they can make announcements at the meetings, on the club’s website or Facebook page, or send your contact information through the club’s email address books. There are so many ways to connect here!