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Sustainable Beekeeping

Sustainable beekeeping has become a topic of discussion in recent years, and rightfully so. Beekeeping used to be much easier and worry free, but times and our environment have drastically changed. Now we have plenty to worry about; mites, small hive beetles, pesticide exposure, and starvation from reduced forage. These worries motivate us to examine what makes a beekeeping operation sustainable. After a quick google search, I determined the definition of sustainable to be "capable of being sustained" or "the capacity to endure." What makes a beekeeping operation sustainable? The first thought that comes to my mind for larger operations is profitability. If they are not able to yield an income to fund their operation and yield a profit for their efforts, they will at some point cease to exist. For smaller operations money is also a factor, but can be a non issue for many hobbyists. What made my operation sustainable? What factor shifted my beekeeping from an expensive hobby, to profitable side gig? I distilled it down to one concentrated answer. Queen rearing. The ability to rear my own quality queens from mite and disease resistant stock was THE game changer. It changed my operation in ways I hadn't foreseen outside of saving money by not purchasing production queens. I stopped coddling poor under performing queens. Instead of pondering ways to medicate the colony, I swiftly changed out upper level management with a fresh face. This simple change made all the difference. My colonies started looking healthier and more robust than in a matter of months. I also managed to sell a few queens to yield more capital to reinvest in beekeeping equipment...of course. If I could make one recommendation that would allow beekeepers to take it to the next level and control an invaluable piece of their operation; it would undoubtedly be to learn to raise their own queens from top performing stock. You will NOT regret it.

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