December 19

#1 Way To Guarantee A Bad Start To Your Beekeeping Season

Let’s face it.

Beekeeping is hard.


It’s difficult trying to keep your bees alive, healthy, and producing at the rate you want. The uncertainties brought about with each season don’t really help things either.

Top that off with exotic diseases, weather challenges, increasing costs, rising thefts & vandalism, etc. and you’ve created the perfect storm of unpredictability. It’s enough to get anyone’s spirits down.

If that wasn’t hard enough, you might be shooting yourself in the foot without even realizing it.

So let me ask you two things: 

  1. 1
    Are you doing the #1 thing that will get your season off to a bad start?
  2. 2
    Did you know that you can fix this season killer in 10 minutes or less?

More...

How To Kill Your Beekeeping Success Before You Even Get Started

Whenever we talk about the #1 thing that can (quite literally) ruin your beekeeping season, most people expect our answer to be disease or weather related.

Certainly, these factors can (and often do) throw a wrench into things for many beekeepers.

However, we observed one thing, more than any other, that puts new beekeepers behind the 8-ball.

Ironically, it has absolutely nothing to do with bees or beekeeping whatsoever. Instead, it has everything to do with the beekeeper.

The one thing you must avoid at all costs will very likely surprise you and it is…

…PROCRASTINATION

Procrastination Will Kill Your Beekeeping Season

You are asking for disaster to strike if you wait too long to order your supplies, install your bees, perform inspections, or other critical beekeeping activities. 

The Domino Effect

Now, most people tend to scoff and say that we’re barking up the wrong tree.

Surely, there must be something more pertinent to the actual care of honey bees that’s more damaging to a beekeeper’s season. Varroa mites? Colony Collapse Disorder? Frigid temperatures? Global warming on the distant moons of Neptune?

In our experience, these things don’t come even close to the effects of procrastination.

Waiting too long to order supplies, inspect your beehives, administer treatments to your colony, winter your bees, and other critical activities is basically an invitation for your bees to up and die on you.

The bite of procrastination usually hits before the season has even started and creates a domino effect that ripples throughout the remainder of the year.

Procrastination Has A Domino Effect

If you procrastinate early on, it's much more likely that you will procrastinate other important activities down the line.

On the flip side, if you can beat the procrastination right at the start, it makes it much easier to beat it when future tasks roll around.

The Biggest Culprits

Now putting off one or two things here and there may seem fairly harmless but you’d be amazed at how easy it is to suddenly procrastinate everything

Admittedly, it’s troubling for us to see so many beekeepers (new and experienced) get caught up in this snare and not even realize it.

It has given us ample opportunities to identify the two biggest culprits that start this domino effect so that we can help you avoid them:

  1. 1
    Waiting too long to pre-order woodenware
  2. 2
    Waiting too long to order other beekeeping supplies

This might surprise you but it actually takes a lot more time to get these critical supplies sourced, shipped, built, painted (where applicable), and ready to deliver than you would expect.

Without enough lead time, even the most efficient beekeeping supply vendors can’t do much for you.

If you wait too long on either of these, you’re already given yourself a 50/50 chance (at best) to have a failing season.

We’ve seen this phenomenon many times and (unfortunately) have even committed the very things we’re now telling you not to do.

I implore you to learn from our early mistakes.

Two Important Observations From 2020

Let’s build on this idea a little bit more with some real examples we saw earlier this year.

It’s no secret that 2020 hasn’t been the best of years for most people due to the global pandemic, civil unrest, and other challenges.

It wasn’t the best of years for the beekeeping supply chain either.

There are two major challenges we observed that relate perfectly to today’s topic of avoiding procrastination:

Lumber Shortages

During the early part of 2020, we saw a drastic increase in the demand for beekeeping supplies (particularly woodenware).

In general, lumber demand quickly outpaced the available supply as well as the projected supply.

Several markets (including ours) faced sizable lumber shortages. Nearly overnight, the price of lumber shot through the roof and became very difficult to source.

As you can imagine, this made it very difficult for us to be able to build and deliver woodenware to our beekeepers. It took several weeks longer than normal to get the same amount of supplies that we had done in previous years.

Lumber Shortages Impact The Ability To Source & Deliver Woodenware

In early 2020, our market (and many others) experienced alarming shortages of lumber.


When that happens, it makes it more difficult to source the wood needed to build beehives, frames, etc. for our beekeepers. 


It also dramatically increases the amount of lead time needed to deliver the final product on time. 

We had people calling/emailing/begging/etc. on a near daily basis for far more woodenware than we had in stock or could source.

Unfortunately, we had to turn away beekeepers on many occasions because, despite our best efforts, we simply couldn’t get access to the needed supplies.

But the most difficult part of this whole situation was that it was not an isolated incident.

This happened to almost all beekeeping suppliers in the entire state of Utah.

Overall Supply Chain Disruptions

However, it doesn’t stop there.

COVID-19 wrecked havoc on many aspects of normal life. Priorities dramatically shifted as the focus landed on critical supplies needed to address the pandemic. Non-critical supplies became a (temporary) casualty.

The beekeeping supply chain was one of those casualties.

In essence, this supply chain was disrupted in a way never seen before in the history of modern beekeeping.

Interruptions To The Beekeeping Supply Chain

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on every day life. 


As the world reeled from the impact of the pandemic, the focus rightfully turned to ensuring critical supplies reached their destinations as quickly as possible. 


What that did, however, was further increase the lead time needed to secure beekeeping supplies (non-essential products in the face of a pandemic).


With supplies already being delayed, the backyard beekeeping supply chain suffered even more by this unexpected setback.

Supplies for backyard beekeepers don’t exactly fit the bill of critical supplies so they went to the back burner as the focus went to more important things.

It became a lot more difficult and took several additional weeks to acquire things like bee suits, hive tools, smokers, and more that are critical to successfully being a beekeeper.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a thing we (or anybody else) could do to speed things up. We just had to wait it out and hope for the best.

Another unfortunate thing is that with the current state of the world, we anticipate that 2021 will face similar issues.

Due to the government’s recent announcement of Coronavirus vaccines being shipped, it’s possible (and even likely) that beekeeping supplies will once again face delays as the world attends to something even more important.

How To Beat The Beekeeping Procrastination Juggernaut

To bring everything full circle, these two observations from the 2020 season made the propensity for procrastinating a whole lot more complicated.

We don’t want you to have to endure anything like that ever again and today, I’m outlining the surprisingly easy way to beat your procrastination in 10 minutes or less.

In fact, it’s so easy that you might be tempted to dismiss it outright.

But I urge you to take note. Read on to discover the very easy fix:

The 10-Minute Fix

Demand for beekeeping supplies is fairly cyclical.

In early January, people begin purchasing bee packages in anticipation of being beekeepers for the upcoming season.

However, most people wait until bee packages are nearly ready to be delivered before they order their woodenware, suits, gloves, hive tools, etc. 

This makes it very difficult for your vendor to ensure they can actually deliver the needed supplies to you on time (i.e. by the time you pickup your bee packages). 

The Problem

Ordering your supplies at the last minute puts your vendor in a really tight spot. 

Vendors need several weeks of lead time in order to deliver your products to you.

If you don't leave them enough time, all bets are off as to whether your vendor can get your supplies to you.


The Solution

The good news is that there is a very simple way to fix this problem. The solution is simple to:

ORDER YOUR SUPPLIES EARLIER

Rather than waiting till the week before bee packages arrive, we have always encouraged our beekeepers to order beekeeping supplies by March 15th at the latest.

With the way we saw 2020 unfold, we are now updating that guidance to the middle of February.

Our Recommendation

Order your supplies by mid-February to ensure your vendor has enough lead time to get your products to you

This extra lead time will allow your vendor to ensure they can source the products you need in time to deliver them to you.


Ordering earlier is hands down the best way to beat the procrastination juggernaut that plagues many of today's backyard beekeepers.

It’s such a simple answer that it’s almost laughable.

Think about it though. If you order your supplies (especially your woodenware) even 4-6 weeks earlier than you normally would, you’ve got that much more time to deal with unforeseen situations like lumber shortages or supply chain disruptions.

In most cases, it should give your vendor plenty of time to be able to get everything ready to go before you pickup your bee packages.

Ordering your supplies earlier also has the added benefit of giving you a mental jumpstart on all of the other things you’re not going to procrastinate throughout the season 😉

In other words, getting a head start on this has a great tendency to remove most (if not all) of the domino effect for the rest of your season.

You can’t lose in this scenario.

I know that you probably don’t want any homework right before the holidays but I’m going to give you a very quick assignment that will take 10 minutes or less:

Your Assignment

Create a reminder/task/calendar item/etc. to remind you to pre-order your supplies by mid-February

Go do this right now and you’ll have already beat your procrastination before you even reach the end of this article.

Now, if you really want to get a handle on your procrastination, go a step further and pre-order those supplies right now.

Do it before you have a chance to be distracted by something else and it'll be off your plate.

Even Better: Beat Procrastination Right Now

Go order your beekeeping supplies right now before you get distracted by something else

For The New Beekeeper: Supplies You Need To Order

If you’re brand new to beekeeping, there are several supplies you’ll need to make sure you purchase in order to be successful.

At a bare minimum, you need to make sure you purchase all of the items included as part of a standard Starter Kit.

Starter Kit

All of the necessary tools you need for beekeeping

Includes:

  • Bee suit & veil
  • Beekeeping gloves
  • Hive tool
  • Bee smoke
  • Fully assembled beehive

You can always purchase each item separately but you’ll save money by buying them as a kit. Since you need all of these supplies anyway, we recommend you just invest in the kit to begin with.

Note: You can learn more about Starter Kits in this free online course

In addition to Starter Kit items, you may want to consider these few extras:

  1. 1
    Hive tool (2-3 extra) — fundamental tool used all the time and they always seem to disappear
  2. 2
    Bee brush (1-2 extra) — very handy to have extras during inspections 
  3. 3
    Full-body bee suit (1 for every person that participates)
  4. 4
    Beekeeping gloves (1 set for every person that participates)

As long as you have the Starter Kit items and perhaps some of these extras, you’ll be well covered for the season.

Just make sure to submit your order as soon as possible so that you avoid the time crunch of the procrastinators.

Ordering Beekeeping Supplies For The Holidays

On the other hand, if you are ordering beekeeping supplies as a gift for a beekeeping friend or family member, now is the perfect time to order those supplies (or even an entire Starter Kit) for them.

Help your beekeeping friend or loved one beat their procrastination by removing that hurdle entirely and allow them to just focus on the bees this upcoming year.

In a year as trying as this one, purchasing beekeeping supplies for someone else is a perfect way to bring some light to the end of their 2020.

What Will You Do To Beat Your Procrastination?

That outlines our very simple 10-minute fix to get your beekeeping season off to a better start.

It’s deceptively easy but it also works every single time. I promise you won’t be disappointed if you make this a habit each year.

With that, what do you think? Do you agree with our 10-minute fix? Disagree? Have you ever been put in a hard spot by waiting too long to your submit your pre-orders? Or perhaps seen benefits by getting it done ahead of time?

I’ve want to hear your stories so please share them with us in the comments section below. I look forward to learning from you!

Bryce MacCabe

About the author

Bryce MacCabe

Bryce is the CEO/CMO of Bear Country Bees and is in charge of marketing, strategy, and innovation. When he isn't obsessing over creating the best possible experience for backyard beekeepers, he loves reading Star Wars, visiting new places, studying and launching rockets, and spending time with his family. He also sells weather and astronomy equipment and loves observing clouds, lightning, and storms.

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