When asked to describe what beekeeping is like I would usually liken it to specialized detective work. I would approach the colony and look for external signs of distress or disease, and the amount and appearance of any dead bees. I would also watch for the level of colony activity, and whether or not I could see any workers returning with pollen in their corbicula. I would then remove the lid and crack the inner cover, and immediately smell for any sign of disease within the hive (American and European Foulbrood has a very distinct odour). I could go on and on about all the troubleshooting and deductions a good beekeeper can do when they’re diagnosing a situation inside an ailing beehive. It feels like very rewarding detective work, so it’s no wonder that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had his Sherlock Holmes retire to become a beekeeper; a fact that stays consistent in several versions of Holmes’ later years.
Sherlock Holmes and Beekeeping