Growing up on a farm in southeast Alabama I learned from a young age to work hard and also to respect farmers. They provide a necessary service for us all. Every year is a risk, especially if farming is their primary source of income. Some years are very successful while others are considered a failure. Crops can fail. Livestock can die. Natural disasters may occur. It takes a lot of faith to put it all on the line in hopes that things will go well. It takes even more faith to try again after a bad year.
Though there is great risk, many farmers wouldn’t have it any other way. Somehow they make it, year after year, through the good times and the bad. I’ve always been impressed by that.
Beekeeping is a lot like farming. I guess some might consider it a form of farming, like raising livestock. There are years of success, when things seem to go well and goals are reached with minimal loss. There are years of dearth when the harvest is small and it is difficult to keep the bees alive. Mites or hive beetles might get the upper hand, or colonies may die out because of disease or other unknown reasons. Sometimes the strongest colonies can crash unexpectedly. Some loss is inevitable whether it be a result of beekeeper error or simply an unavoidable event. It can be very discouraging. Through it all we keep going, trying to stay ahead of the challenges in order to prepare for the future. We learn from our mistakes and rebuild our stock as we hope for brighter days ahead.
Beekeeping, like farming, requires a lot of faith. Hard times should be expected. That is how we learn and grow. It is through failure and difficulty, and much trial and error, that we become better beekeepers and ultimately become successful.
A member of our local beekeeping association quoted a poem awhile back that I am going to share here. It helps us understand a little bit about the mindset of the farmer who keeps going regardless of circumstance. It briefly mentions bees, so I thought is was appropriate. I hope you enjoy it.
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
The summer winds is sniffin’ round the bloomin’ locus’ trees;
And the clover in the pastur is a big day fer the bees,
And they been a-swiggin’ honey, above board and on the sly,
Tel they stutter in theyr buzzin’ and stagger as they fly.
The flicker on the fence-rail ‘pears to jest spit on his wings
And roll up his feathers, by the sassy way he sings;
And the hoss-fly is a-whettin’-up his forelegs fer biz,
And the off-mare is a-switchin’ all of her tale they is.
You can hear the blackbirds jawin’ as they foller up the plow–
Oh, theyr bound to git theyr brekfast, and theyr not a-carin’ how;
So they quarrel in the furries, and they quarrel on the wing–
But theyr peaceabler in pot-pies than any other thing:
And it’s when I git my shotgun drawed up in stiddy rest,
She’s as full of tribbelation as a yeller-jacket’s nest;
And a few shots before dinner, when the sun’s a-shinin’ right,
Seems to kindo’-sorto’ sharpen up a feller’s appetite!
They’s been a heap o’ rain, but the sun’s out to-day,
And the clouds of the wet spell is all cleared away,
And the woods is all the greener, and the grass is greener still;
It may rain again to-morry, but I don’t think it will.
Some says the crops is ruined, and the corn’s drownded out,
And propha-sy the wheat will be a failure, without doubt;
But the kind Providence that has never failed us yet,
Will be on hands onc’t more at the ‘leventh hour, I bet!
Does the medder-lark complane, as he swims high and dry
Through the waves of the wind and the blue of the sky?
Does the quail set up and whissel in a disappinted way,
Er hang his head in silunce, and sorrow all the day?
Is the chipmuck’s health a-failin’?–Does he walk, er does he run?
Don’t the buzzards ooze around up thare jest like they’ve allus done?
Is they anything the matter with the rooster’s lungs er voice?
Ort a mortul be complanin’ when dumb animals rejoice?
Then let us, one and all, be contentud with our lot;
The June is here this mornin’, and the sun is shining hot.
Oh! let us fill our harts up with the glory of the day,
And banish ev’ry doubt and care and sorrow fur away!
Whatever be our station, with Providence fer guide,
Sich fine circumstances ort to make us satisfied;
Fer the world is full of roses, and the roses full of dew,
And the dew is full of heavenly love that drips fer me and you.