The yin yang is a symbol of of the concept of dualism; the delicate dance of opposites
that we are all familiar with. In our apiary we have me, the determined and creative force
and the forever optimistic dreamer, and Joe, the rational, doubting, critical and
analytically unbiased specimen of a scientist, my husband and partner. We joined forces
last year and he has certainly added ‘that which was lacking that I had no idea even of its
importance’ to the apiary. I suppose being a hydrogeologist has its positive points. Once
a scientist always a scientist they say. We look at things in a very different manner. Often
this leads to heated debate (very loud and passionate heated debate). It always leads to a
more productive apiary and informed bee keeper.
For the past few years, in his spare time, Joe has been a driving force pushing us to do
more in the apiary, to sell honey, to become more scientific and data oriented, to think
outside the typical backyard beekeeper box. I like to say he just desires to ‘trick out
hives’ but in reality, he tries to streamline beekeeping with graphs, charts, and
spreadsheets that help him and other scientifically minded beekeepers understand
honeybees and the environment a bit more. I suppose I should give more credit than that, they bring much more valuable information to beekeeping that my individual
observations ever could.
Thanks to Joe, and our mentor and friend Ray Walker from Walker’s Apiary, we were
introduced to a product called Broodminder. This is exactly the language of Joe (and I
presume what lured him in to bee keeping in the first place.) These are gages and gadgets for beekeeping used to monitor temperature, humidity, and weight of a hive. The data is then uploaded to a platform to share with anyone around the world. I think that is the most exciting aspect of it all; the sharing of data!
Now, thanks to these simple additions to the hives, we can be less invasive, which means
reduced stress to the bees. We can monitor them with these implements and draw
correlations with what we see recorded and what we observe in nature. It literally opens
up a whole new chapter of beekeeping (I am an avid note taker).
Joe has also been the voice of our apiary. He is an avid nature photographer and has so
many images of honeybees to share and loves talking about them (as well as anything
related to geology). Our instagram posts are often of his photos. At markets and events, he really enjoys conversing with folks about our practices, new connections he finds
between the environment and the bees’ habits, honey, color, flavor, and production. Somehow water always takes center stage and he reminds folks often ‘if you want to do
something nice for bees give them some drinking water during hot summer months’.