THE PLIGHT OF THE HONEY BEE

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!
~Isaac Watts, “Divine Songs”

We are happy to report that all of our “homestead honey bee colonies” made it through what was one of the colder winters we’ve had here in So Cal.  This is good and blessed news to our ears, especially since the bee situation is so dire here in California.  The amount of hives lost by fellow bee keepers this winter is staggering!

Mysterious and worrisome bee losses have been on the radar since 2006, but this winter was especially hard on hives, and some experts, like UC Davis entomologist Eric Mussen, predict 2013 could end up as one of the worst honey production years on record.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says beekeepers have been losing approximately 30 percent of their honey bees each year. But word of hive losses in the 70-90 percent range are being reported this winter

Why California Is in Desperate Need of Bees

Vanishing Honey Bee Colonies May Impact California’s Almond Production

I remember when growing up, hive losses were few.  Actually,  it was a matter of having too many hives!   Sure, you’d lose a hive or two and, sometimes, the whole lot (by foul brood); but now it seems like beekeepers are crossing their fingers every winter because of  heavy hive losses.   What’s changed?  The winter’s not (really) changed – cold is cold.  But I wonder if the bees aren’t as strong, thanks to all the unnatural anomalies that now we are dealing with in a weak genetic generation of bees.

If you do have hives, come fall, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with abundant honey and a large bee population.  A few years back, we learned that lesson the hard way.  During the annual fall hive check, the colony looked healthy and there were LOADS of honey.  We thought, “Looks like they’ll make it through winter OK” and let them be (pun intended).   That year we experienced a high hive casualty so, what killed them ?  Not sure, they just upped and disappeared.   That was a strange, almost “twilight zone,” experience.

So, now we check in on the hives at least once a month  — even in winter!

Golden Delicious

Don’t forget to pick up jars of honey at the FRONT PORCH FARM STAND (open Sun – Fri 8 am – 8 pm)  Local honey is great for allergies

 

 

Comments(5)

  1. Tom says:

    What are some of the theories on bee colony declines you guys at Homestead.org put the most weight in? I’ve heard pesticides, cell phone towers, zombie flies, viruses, . . . .

  2. Tom says:

    I’ve seen on the internet that some folks drill holes in pieces of wood to encourage native solitary bees, such as the leaf-cutter or carpenter bees. Have you or anyone else reading this blog tried it with success?

  3. Tracy says:

    Bees forage about 2 miles from their hive, and so it is impossible to control their environment. So many people spray their yards and flowers with chemicals which knock down the bees immune systems, leaving them compromised and unable to fight off verroa mites, tracheal mites and viruses. Genetically inbreeding queens causes them to pass on weak genetics to the next generation of larvae. It doesn’t help that beekeepers also make their bees travel to groves, when they should be staying on one spot, and then feeding them powdered sugar with antibiotics, weakens their natural systems further. It is not one thing that is destroying the bee, it is a combination of several factors that come together that create the perfect storm. A storm that create low crop yields, and the byproduct: high food prices.

  4. Lori says:

    Glad to hear your bees are doing well. We are very new to bee keeping. Haven’t had our bees a yr yet. Still learning here. Hubby checked on them about 3 weeks ago and all looked well so we are hoping & praying this yr we will be able to get a little honey from them. Nothing quite like honey on a hot, fresh piece of bread 🙂 Good luck to everyone & God bless all the bees

  5. Michelle Steen says:

    We live in town 🙁 We are the only people on our street that don’t spray our lawn to kill weeds, so we have lots of clover growing in our lawn. I always see lots of honey bees in our lawn which helps my little garden. I’ve read that GMO fields kill off whole colonies of bees.

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