Jan. 5, 2023

Beekeeping New Years Resolutions (107)

Beekeeping New Years Resolutions (107)

It’s the beginning of a new year and Jim and Kim are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Almost everybody makes a few Resolutions every January – even beekeepers, but many times resolutions are made and never achieved. Kim wants to do better...

It’s the beginning of a new year and Jim and Kim are thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Almost everybody makes a few Resolutions every January – even beekeepers, but many times resolutions are made and never achieved.

Kim wants to do better with the bees this season, take better care of the garden, and read a bee book a month this year. Jim also wants to do better with his bees, run fewer colonies, and be better at responding to email he gets from podcast listeners and readers of his journal articles.

On today’s episode, Kim and Jim discuss what you can do to actually hit your New Year’s resolutions and fulfill your beekeeping goals this season.

How are your resolutions for this year?

We hope you enjoyed today's episode. Please follow today and leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you!


Thanks to Betterbee for sponsoring today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com


Honey Bee Obscura is brought to you by Growing Planet Media, LLC, the home of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Music: Heart & Soul by Gyom, All We Know by Midway Music, original guitar music by Jeffrey Ott

Copyright © 2023 by Growing Planet Media, LLC


Honey Bee Obscura

Episode 107 – Beekeeping New Years Resolutions


Kim: Jim, I was listening to somebody on television the other day, and New Year's resolutions came into the discussion they were having.

Jim: Oh, no.

Kim: Do you make New Year's resolutions?

Jim: I knew you were going to ask me that. Oh, I make them every year, Kim. I make them every year. Where are you going to go with this topic? Because you're going to ask how often I keep them. Right?

Kim: Yes.

Hi, I'm Kim Flottum.

Jim: I'm Jim Tew.

Kim: Today we're going to talk about New Year's resolutions, keeping them, not keeping them, why, why not, all sorts of things that happen because of New Year's.

Introduction: You are listening to Honeybee Obscura brought to you by Growing Planet Media, the folks behind Beekeeping Today Podcast. Each week on Honeybee Obscura, host Kim Flottum and Jim Tew explore the complexities, the beauty, the fun, and the challenges of managing honeybees in today's world. Get ready for an engaging discussion to delight and inform all beekeepers. If you're a long-timer or just starting out, sit back and enjoy the next several minutes as Kim and Jim explore all things honeybees.

Jim: If you miss your New Year's, Kim, do you get to skip the whole year, or can you make resolutions at any time?

Kim: Listen to these people. They didn't talk about the kind of resolutions they were making, and they were talking about how people make them, why they make them, why they don't last, why they do. They came up with what I thought are some pretty good things. This time of year, it's easy to make the main resolution that I make every year, is I'm going to do better with my bees because right now I'm not doing anything with my bees. It's the middle of January.

Jim: I was thinking while you were talking, that a resolution can pertain specifically to beekeeping, or resolutions can pertain to other aspects of my life that affect my beekeeping. Yes, I will make the universal blanket resolution that I will try to do a better job with my bees. Now, that's just kind of a standard resolution that I make every year, and then every year I watch swarms leave, I watch Winter kills come by, and you think maybe next year.

My resolution across the board, if you're asking me that, will be to do a better job with my bees. Now, what do your people say about these resolutions once you begin the development?

Kim: That story got interesting. The first word at the top of the list was be realistic. Middle of January, it's real easy to be unrealistic about how much work I'm going to do with my bees, my garden, the plants on my deck, keeping the yard neat and trimmed and all of those things. It's real easy now. It's not realistic when it's 95 degrees in July and you can't move without breaking up and just way too much work when it's 95 degrees in July.

Jim: Yes. That would bring me to the point to ask, what's the difference in intentions and resolutions. I intend to take care of my bees, so I'll make a resolution that I will keep my bees better. It's exactly what you say. I've got a fixed amount of energy, and I can sit here and talk on this podcast about what a great guy I'm going to be in March and April, and when March and April rolls around, I'll still be almost 75 years old with no energy. If I'm not realistic, then I'm dead on delivery here. I'm done.

Kim: One of the things that they said, other than besides being realistic, is make yourself a contract. Say, okay, I can just say I'm going to do this in July, and July comes and I don't do it, and there's no penalty for not doing it. If I make myself a contract and I write it down and I say if in July I'm going to, and then July comes and goes with no contract, nobody cares. If I say if I don't do this in July, then I'm going to do something else that will make up for it, and I'll write it on the calendar, and when July comes and it's not done, then I will at least remember that I made a contract with myself and I didn't do it.

That calendar thing is important, I think.

Jim: That calendar thing is important at all aspects of my life, and as I become more forgetful, more isolated, I don't have any kind of staff or assistance anymore. I depend on that calendar telling me when I'm due at the doctor, telling me when an article is due, and telling me that you were supposed to do something with my bees today. Yes, that calendar's become very critical.

Kim: When I was working, I had one of those calendars that hung on the wall that was the whole year. I could see the whole year. That made it easier to plan. I could look at that calendar and look at, say, okay, I got six weeks to get this contract done. I don't have that anymore. I don't have wall space anymore to hang one of those up. I got to look at each page. I'll tell you something else that works really well. Have a determined spouse.

Jim: Okay. My spouse is actually in the room here, so I want to keep my comments more confidential. You talk about your spouse, go ahead. [laughs]

Kim: Okay. A determined spouse, somebody who's just always saying, not always, just every once in a while says, "Hey, weren't you going to get this done this year? Get the garage clean, get the bee equipment moved, get the grass mowed, all of these things." Somebody that does that without getting in the way is really beneficial. You can be that person with your spouse, or your spouse can be that person with you, or both.

Jim: I was thinking it had to be both, wouldn't it, because even a determined spouse is going to need nudging in their deficit areas too, so should be given take, right?

Kim: I fully agree with that one.

Jim: We're getting in the deep end of the pool here. We probably should move back to resolutions.


Kim: Another thing that came up was, they were talking about make realistic resolutions, and kind of a subset of realistic is don't underestimate or overestimate your ability to carry that out. I guess I'm thinking like I'm going to harvest honey three times this year. I'm going to get the June flow and the August flow and the October flow, and I'm going to make a ton of honey this year with three colonies. That tends to be overestimating, A, my ability to get things done, and, B, what will happen if I do.

Jim: Oh, I'm an overestimater, Kim. I will lay out a plan for the day that is completely unrealistic, but that doesn't stop me from laying it out. Then when the day is over, I lie in bed not thinking, "I didn't get that done at all." Those are the kind of things that resolutions need to address, is when are you overshooting the mark based on your physical ability and your energy level ability?

Is there a point where we should make resolutions and say what they are? Is this like a personal thing we're doing and people are eavesdropping?

Kim: If we do, somebody's going to hold us to them.

Jim: I know that. I am going to try, Kim, to do a better job with my bees, but now here's the truth. Every year, I try with fewer colonies. At one time, my brothers and I had 400 hives, and then I routinely kept 40 for several years. I'm thinking that three to five hives, Kim. I need enough hives for enjoyment, I need enough hives for photographic work, and I need enough hives to produce some honey. Anything beyond that is getting to be real overkill work that I really probably won't be able to do. My realistic resolution is to do a better job with probably a bit fewer colonies.

Kim: I dropped to that fewer colonies quite a few years ago, and I look at every year, about this time of year, and kind of think of what I'm going to do. I've got good equipment for three colonies, and a nuke, and I think that's probably what I'm going to do, is three colonies and a nuke. I got the nuke in case something goes wrong. If it doesn't go wrong, then I probably will give it to somebody come fall.

Jim: That's a good way to go. That's pretty much where I am. You mentioned good equipment, and that inspired me to realize that we need to take a break and hear from somebody who can provide you good equipment if you need it.


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Kim: I think I mentioned it before, but the other thing to do, using that calendar, is challenge yourself a little bit. Make some contract that says if I can do this, then I'm going to reward myself by doing that. Something else, I'm going to take a weekend off and go visit friends down the southern part of the state or something, something that's a reward if I accomplish a task.

Here's the other side of that. What if you don't, do you give yourself a punishment?

Jim: Do you call your friends and explain that indeed you won't be coming because you blew it back in the bee yard.

Kim: Yes, probably. I've tried that, making myself a contract, and then I mark it on the calendar, and it says-- Now I'm thinking about it, and you just mentioned it, it's easier to make that contract when you've got that calendar hanging on the wall and you can see it every day you look at the calendar. It reminds you that there is a goal here, and that goal is getting closer to that goal. I think I'm going to have to go back and look at that wall calendar and find myself a space here.

Jim: You talked a lot about resolutions, Kim, but you just will not make one. Go ahead, let me hear you make a resolution that you'll be contracting and that you'll be called to task for this time of year from now. Go ahead. Here's Kim Flottum resolution number one. Go.

Kim: I'm going to read a bee book a month. It may be a 40-page book, it may be a 400-paged book, but I'm going to read a bee book a month this year.

Jim: I guess I didn't see that coming. You're pausing now like it's my turn.


Kim: Yes, and?

Jim: It is related to beekeeping. Kim and listeners, here's the truth. I'm celebrating, is that the right word? I'm having my 15th consecutive year beekeeping this year. After a while, you've just done it over and over again. How many more times do you want to install packages, and do you want to bring down swarms? I want to do that, but it's just not what it used to be 46, 47 times ago. What I'd like to do is make commitments that I'll do things like respond better to listeners and readers who correspond with me. I'm very tardy about getting back, and Google Mail really helps with that because just after a day, that message that just came in is now buried and out of sight.

One of the resolutions I'd like to make to myself is that I'm going to do a better job of organizing my electronic mail and my written mail, I don't get much anymore, and responding to it in a more timely way than what I've done in the past. That's a huge resolution, Kim.

Kim: It's a noble one, certainly.

Jim: I hope it's noble, but seems to be just civilly and societally polite the right thing to do. I promise you that once the weekend passes, once you go visit family and you come back and you're five days behind, there's messages buried in all that email litter from people who should have been addressed and I didn't address them. I'm going to try to do better, Kim.

Kim: I like that. I think I should probably add that to my list. I'm going to answer emails, can I say it this way, in a more timely manner as opposed to by.

Jim: Someone who's listen is going to write us now to test us, and right off the bat, we're going blow this because we'll be getting text messages to see how quickly you respond now. Glad you brought it up.

Another thing I want to do, you mentioned read a book. I would like to read more books too, but I would like to learn to use more modern day equipment better. One of my resolutions would be like this podcast, to try to improve what I'm doing here, my understanding of it, because, Kim, you and I are competing with people of fourth our age who are profoundly literate in this technology.

I don't have enough life left to become proficient at it, but I'd like to try to be better at it. Now, none of this means I'm going to not be eager to control swarming, and to install packages, but I want to improve my electronic tools that I use to deliver information and to talk about those kind of beekeeping events.

Kim: That other podcast that I'm involved in with Jeff, we routinely interview people who are developing these electronic monitoring devices and all of the things that you just mentioned. I talk about them and ask questions and get answers, and then I close the book and I don't own any of those things. That's another good one I think I may try and adopt, is get out of the 1950s beekeeping and maybe into the 2020s beekeeping.

Jim: As much as I can, Kim, I will always be limited. Every time I pick up my phone, it's not even a phone, really, it's a computer that I can stick in my pocket, I'm stunned that there's yet one more thing that little gadget would do or has done that I wouldn't know it would do. This electronic thing is just an endless learning curve. Then right when you get it where you can handle it a little bit, there'll be an app update and they'll change everything. Now I'm off the subject. I'm complaining.

You mentioned reading a book, and I would read books too, but you have access to far more books than I do. What I should read is more of the technical literature. I used to read it a lot. I used to stay informed, and then I lost radio access to the library system. I need to go back, as a resolution, and learn what avenues are open to me to university library systems to stay current in the technical literature. I don't do that as well as I should. I don't stay technologically updated and beekeeping well enough with who's doing what outside of the normal bee world. Someone who's doing something with electricity, or someone who's doing some genomic study or whatever.

Now, my understanding of those topics is limited, but that doesn't mean that I should just stop reading and just spend time having swarms. I should stay informed. Right?

Kim: Right. I used to read the scientific literature, not nearly with the determination that you did, but I was aware of mostly things that were going on, and I probably should get back to that because the books that I read are pretty much how to or why to on bees and beekeeping, rather than the results of a four-year study on queen breeding.

Jim: I want you and the listeners both now to keep this in perspective. I'm on the downhill side here now. I'm not trying to be the end all information source, but it's just like you said, I don't have to understand, but I have to be informed.

I got this thing on my mind about electricity because I stumbled into an article yesterday. I don't know anything about the finer points of electrical conductivity and swarms generating electrical charges when they fly, but it was really intriguing to try to read it and understand that as a swarm flies, it produces an electric potential that can be measured.

I'd like to read more about things like that just to stay abreast of what the marvelous things that bees, insects, birds, all animals can do if you just spent time enough with them.

Kim: There you go. The cue here is spend enough time with them. I think we're running out of time here today, but you've come up with some realistic ideas on things you want to accomplish this year. I know you've got a determined spouse who will help you do those.

Jim: I do.

Kim: You've got a calendar you can make a contract on.

Jim: On my phone.

Kim: I've got the same here. A year from now, if we're both still here, let's take a look and see what we did, and if anything at all worked.

Jim: I would really appreciate it if listeners would not call in and evaluate me and point out my failings and shortcomings. I can do a superb job of that to myself.

Kim, anyway, happy 2023. Here we go again making podcasts throughout yet another year.

Kim: Good luck and have a good one. See you next time.

Jim: All right. Same to you. Bye-Bye.

[00:19:44] [END OF AUDIO]