Once in a while, someone writes something you just have to preserve for others to see. This is one of those. This student's words mean more than any promotional material I might write myself. Mo from Louisville, has been one of my more "engaged" students. That is, Mo fully participates within ability and availability. Mo was not a first year beekeeper in 2012, but was a relatively new beek.
Concerning your request for feedback about the mentor program, I must emphasize that I loved the hands on events. I wish I could have done more. The hands on was priceless to me. If I was remote it would be worth it to have you available to answer specific questions and for the ‘lessons’ you provided. But the hands-on really helped me a lot. I also loved working with the other students.
I would have given up my hive if I hadn’t met you. My first year, beekeeping alone, reading and scouring the internet for info was a disaster for me. I learn by seeing then doing. So, I found myself going back and reading your lessons after we ‘did’ them and it would make sense then.
I think you should really stress in your literature and website how different your program is compared to a classroom. People spend as much on a class beekeeping experience as yours and they never see, much less touch a hive, much less multiple hives. I would stress that a mentee can have as much hands on experience as their time allows. You make yourself totally available for that. I think you should say something on your website about what hiring you looks like; be very specific. Like, ‘Not sure if you should split a hive or not? Not sure even what splitting a hive means? Don can come to your hive(s) and explain, do, show you how it’s done” or “ need help installing a new package’? or “ not sure how to checkerboard’ (that might be dumb, but you get what I mean right?).
I have to tell you a story. I met woman in South Boulder. She was getting rid of some chickens and I was taking them and I saw she had a Warre hive in her yard. This was the very end of September. She said she hadn’t harvested honey yet and I said it was getting really late. She said she was scared of her bees but she knew she had to face them (this is how I felt before I met you). I told her I don’t know anything about Warre hives but I would morally support her if she wanted. A few days later I got a panic phone call from her. She opened the hive to harvest and I think she put the bee excluder in backwards or something but the bees weren’t where they were supposed to be in the hive. Like I said I don’t know anything about Warre so I couldn’t tell her what to do. She said the bees were stinging her and the neighbors. I couldn’t get to her home for an hour or so and she called me again in that time very upset, I begged her to go inside and just wait for me. She asked me to hurry and said she wants the hive out of her yard and please will I take them….anyway. I went over there. Put the hive together, washed the honey off the lawn where bees were gathering and they all flew in the hive…all was well.
She still wanted me to take the hive. I told her I would, but I said she had to come to my house and help care for them, at least for a while. I didn’t want her to give up on them or herself. She agreed to that.
So Don. This would never had happened without you, your program or your support. Each one teach one. I wouldn’t have any of my three hives and this woman wouldn’t have hers.
I just can’t stress enough what makes your program different is the hands on. Beekeeping is a great idea in a classroom in January. You can read and understand the life cycle of the bees and how the hive maintenance works. But, until you are standing alone in your bee suit in your backyard and open a hive to a swarm of mad bees, or start breaking comb and killing bees, or inspecting your hive and your smoker goes out….nothing you read about or was told in a classroom will help you. You need a mentor and you need experience. That’s what makes you different. And you’re really nice.
Mo ... Louisville, Colorado
Not exactly polished material from some fancy marketing firm, but I love it. Thanks, Mo!
Read more about the mentor program here.