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Thread: How long?

  1. #1
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    Default How long?

    I have two questions, both are causing some discord in my BKA.

    How many years experience should a beekeeper have before before being allowed to take their Basic Assessment? I'm not sure if there's an equivalent assessment in Scotland.

    How many years experience should a beekeeper have before being allowed anywhere near beginners? (As a mentor, bee buddy or a bee friend.)

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    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Personally I can't see any problem with a beginner taking the basic during their first year of having bees, if they can do it, fair play. I see no need to stifle someone's enthusiasm by telling them that they need to wait for a couple of years. We should always remember that beginners often have transferable experience which helps with one or other aspect of beekeeping, I think that the idea that all beginners are equal really isn't very helpful.

    Mind, I reckon that it might be nice to offer an alternative route where the same certificate can be issued on the presentation of an 'experience diary' counter signed by a recognized mentor or association apiary manager.

    As for the mentor issue: a few disjointed thoughts...

    I don't really think that it matters how long a person has had bees as much as what abilities they're able to bring to the craft.

    My other hobby is guided more often than not by teachers who are there due to time invested but when it comes down to it a lot (no percentages, just personal experience) of them can't TEACH for toffee. All they do is repeat what their own teacher -who couldn't TEACH, showed them. Every so often I come across a person who while they may not have several decades under their belt, can take a technique apart and EXPLAIN not only how but WHY it works; those guys are worth their weight in gold. NO different with bees, it's so easy to bluff your way through by bamboozling a beginner with clever sounding excuses; bees do nothing invariably!

    It's just too easy for a beginner to get spoon fed a version of beekeeping for years on end without ever really learning anything. The thing is, this is an unusual hobby in the sense that most people don't get to clock up that many hours of actual 'hands on' during the course of any twelve month period so they really do need to actually do it for themselves and to have the drive to search for information. This is so much more important than relying on the local guru who irrespective of beekeeping experience may simply not have the right attitude or ability to teach.
    Last edited by prakel; 20-06-2014 at 08:54 AM.

  3. #3

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    Completely agree Prakel. Since putting myself out there into the beekeeping world in the last 5 years or so it has amazed me how many beekeepers are dependent on someone coming to their rescue if a situation arises that they don't understand. I have a different way of operating and prefer to source the necessary information myself - whether from books, magazines, this forum or my own experience. The people who seem to me the most natural beekeepers and who keep it going for a period of years seem to be similarly independent minded.

    Some of the people who have mentored others for decades scare me by how little they actually know. Just the other day someone was telling me that someone like that had mentored him for ten years and "kept him right". He is no longer a beekeeper after all his bees died with the arrival of varroa.

    As to the Basic Beemaster there are people I know who would have managed quite easily to perform well in it in their first year as a beekeeper, others with a number of years under their belts who would still struggle. So Bumble I guess my answer would be it depends on who's doing the asking whether they should be put forward for the exam.

    As to tutoring beginners again I don't think it's dependent on the length of your experience. A sensible, thinking beekeeper can be that from very early on in their beekeeping career and those are the sort which you want to let loose on beginners.

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    It was ever thus. Some will be queen rearing in year 2, some will still be failing to understand the life cycle. Some will comprehend and others will not.

    It has often surprised me how many people live on rote learning but who never really understand what they are doing, and this does not only apply to beekeeping. Then some will have a talent for teaching and others not. The worst case is the incomprehending rote learner with a talentless enthusiasm for teaching.....

    All this depends on who is assessing the teacher as well. One chap I know is a self appointed expert in everything who is pedantic in the extreme about how bees should be handled. Often he is wrong, but as a keen wearer of the anorak of enthusiasm, he dominates his local BKA - but personally I wouldn't let the guy anywhere near a beginner, keeper or teacher.

    Our best teacher locally is an ex primary school teacher - she keeps it to single syllables which is good for me, and she imparts great knowledge in depth without ever being didactic or patronising. Like all good teachers she claims to be always learning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by prakel View Post
    The thing is, this is an unusual hobby in the sense that most people don't get to clock up that many hours of actual 'hands on' during the course of any twelve month period so they really do need to actually do it for themselves and to have the drive to search for information.
    And that's another thing. Some will immerse themselves in a subject. research and rehearse "what if" scenarios, develop disaster management strategies and generally think ahead.

    Others will just call their (by now exhausted) mentor when the inevitable swarm occurs.

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    Senior Member HJBee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drumgerry View Post
    As to the Basic Beemaster there are people I know who would have managed quite easily to perform well in it in their first year as a beekeeper, others with a number of years under their belts who would still struggle. So Bumble I guess my answer would be it depends on who's doing the asking whether they should be put forward for the exam.

    As to tutoring beginners again I don't think it's dependent on the length of your experience. A sensible, thinking beekeeper can be that from very early on in their beekeeping career and those are the sort which you want to let loose on beginners.
    I took my Basic Beemaster 3 years into my decision to get into beekeeping, a year of which was purely info gathering, education and observation first. The rest hands on. I still feel like a beginner, I know at least with this passed I am a semi competent one.

    In terms or learning, I personally have always faired best in the practical rather then theory / written approach, and we need to recognise we are all different. So each to their own in that respect and I don't have an opinion either way as long as the output/result is a positive one. I'm not above asking for help and do tend to learn from my mistakes.

    Mentoring, I've had a very positive experience of this. I have however, heard less positive outcomes from some and usually the realisation that the mentoring was not always rounded and open to changes or modernisation (where a good thing) makes me appreciate what experience I've had even more so. Do I think i could or should mentor anyone, personally no. I still think I am a bit rough around the edges, but could I help out others or show a few interested folk a few things to get them started? Yes, and I will.

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    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Castor View Post
    And that's another thing. Some will immerse themselves in a subject. research and rehearse "what if" scenarios, develop disaster management strategies and generally think ahead.

    Others will just call their (by now exhausted) mentor when the inevitable swarm occurs.
    Rehearsing scenarios isn't my way but I can see how it might be helpful, the problem is, to use the analogy of my other hobby again, you can go through the scenario a thousand times in the friendly environment of the dojo but still be totally unprepared when it happens for real, the only way that I believe scenario based training ever works is if you pressure-test yourself in real time. Far better where bees are concerned, to learn to stand back and not rush into decisions which may cost an entire year's honey crop -or the colony itself.

    I'd like to see mentors who are capable of inspiring their charges to think for themselves; to actively build a bank of knowledge (and a library) which they can draw on first.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prakel View Post
    the only way that I believe scenario based training ever works is if you pressure-test yourself in real time.
    Same logic applies to stuff such as practicing clipping on drones.
    No pressure there so no problem but give a guy a 50 queen and ask him to clip it and he will get nervous.

    There are lots of second and third year beekeepers who are better than the old hands, especially with regard to understanding of the bee life cycle and how a colony functions.

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    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    There are lots of second and third year beekeepers who are better than the old hands, especially with regard to understanding of the bee life cycle and how a colony functions.
    Without doubt.

    But we're all different and need to play to our own skills (or develop some ). This must surely open the door to what might be the most important skill a mentor can have; the ability to tailor the training to suit the student rather than expecting the beginning beekeeper to become a carbon copy of what's gone before.
    Last edited by prakel; 20-06-2014 at 11:02 AM.

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    Senior Member HJBee's Avatar
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    I agree Prakel

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