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
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!
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