In the beginning, there was Flow.
By Flow I mean the Flow Hive. Like many others I saw the videos advertising the Flow Hive and was entranced by it’s message. Honey on tap. Amazing! Bees. Amazing! and bees are on the decline so it’d be good if I helped, and I’m a gardener, so pollination and all that. The button had been pressed an I’d ordered a full Flow Hive.
Knowing it was going to be a while before it was delivered, I told a few people and started looking forward to it. In fact I was looking forward so much I’d almost forgotten about it by the time Christmas came around and I was gifted a beginners beekeeping course by my girlfriend. That course was fascinating. Every week I went along and learned that there was more to learn and that I really didn’t know anything. Not just about bees, but about how much they do and how their societies reflect a somewhat idealistic (in some ways), nihilistic (in other ways), and communistic (in many ways) version of our own.
The Surrey Beekeeping Society also gave me an opportunity to purchase my first bee colony. (Before that I had no clue how bees were even acquired and had visions of a package being posted through my letterbox by a terrified postman.) It was only when my bees were ready (around May) and my hive was populated with a nucleus of bees at the club apiary, that I realised how much anti Flow Hive sentiment was to shape my early beekeeping activities. Beginners were interested, and often fascinated. Longtime beekeepers were generally extremely sceptical, very opinionated and very vocal about how their new way would never work. Sometimes so much so that the Flow Hives would not only not work, but they might actually bring about beemageddon itself. The Dark Bee (or Bee Who Shall Not Bee Named) would arrive and destroy all the honey, making breakfast everywhere a bleak and hopeless meal.
I’m exaggerating, of course, but not by that much. The strong and very vocal opinions that the internet makes so easy to shout about seemed to be getting into the real world, leaving me with only one option… Take my bees home.
So my bees arrived in my back garden and have remained there ever since. It saves me a 45 minute drive to the training apiary, but also means that I have to work a lot of stuff out myself so I read a lot, online and in print, and do my best to understand rather than just taking an answer as gospel.
The old adage of ask ten people and you’ll get ten different answers doesn’t really apply to beekeepers. Often you only have to ask one beekeeper to get ten different answers.