Can Beekeeping Be Stressful?

Reader Contribution by The Surrey Beekeeper

Sometimes there can be periods of reflection while beekeeping. As I look out of the window to yet another wet May morning (continuing on from the wettest April on record here in the UK!) this question has been nagging away at me for a while. When I started beekeeping I had these idealistic notions was of beautiful sunny afternoons up at the hive tending the colonies and don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of this but there are other times when I personally find beekeeping quite stressful.  

When I started my Beekeeping blog it was all a bit of fun, I wanted to get one jar of honey in my first year but very quickly I became obsessed by the subject at hand and needed to know everything I could about it. Having a certain level of responsibility for many thousand bees meant that you felt accountable for them.

There are certain aspects of this hobby that I know I find a little stressful. Despite all of my activities in the beekeeping world and all the books and exams I have taken, the bees will still do things that surprise me. I find it slightly stressful that I cannot understand what they are telling me. This is especially apparent with disease. Taking only visual cues is really tough and not knowing a definitive answer I find really difficult – this is especially apparent as beekeeping is now as much as managing disease as it the bees themselves.

There is another thing that I have found recently. We have come out of the warmest March in decades quickly followed by the wettest April on record. This has caused havoc in the hives – a very quick expansion in the brood as they revelled in the warmth and they have now been cooped up for well over 5 weeks as the rain keeps pouring. This means two things. Stores have been running low (resulting in many inspectors sending out warnings to make sure people feed the bees) and my prediction that there will be a big swarm season about to erupt when good weather returns.

Beekeeping is the most wonderful hobby to undertake but it does not come without its stressors (another one for me is the finger crossing throughout the winter as you are hoping the little ones are okay!). I suppose having this feeling is a good thing though as it means I care about them. This is one thing they certainly need at the moment….a bit of TLC.

Should you be interested you can now buy my book about my first year of beekeeping on Amazon – click here.

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