tagged w/ apiaries
"Better stay back. They're getting mad!" Jeremy Jelinek hollers over the angry buzzing of his beehives.
Jelinek, a Michigan beekeeper, has been stung more times than he can count. On this day, he is shipping his bees to Wisconsin where they will pollinate late blooming crops. The disruption has upset the bees, and to calm them, he wafts smoke over the hives as he loads them on the truck. That helps, but only a little.
Jelinek owns Jelinek Apiaries, a family business that provides honey bees to farmers to pollinate crops like cherries, apples, alfalfa and almonds. A single acre of sweet cherries requires roughly 140,000 bees.
In the past, farmers could rely on feral bees to do the job. But the number of bees in the United States has declined in recent years due to disease and colony collapse disorder. As a result, apiarists like Jelinek must transport their bees as far as California to get the work done.
It's been a bad season for the bees. During a typical year, Jelinek's bees work in the South until April or May before he ships them north. But in Michigan this year, fruit trees bloomed unseasonably early, prompting Jelinek to ship them in March instead. But upon arrival, a series of frosts killed 200 of his hives, each of which contained 70,000 bees. The bees that did survive found the weather too cool and windy to fly, so the remaining blossoms weren't well pollinated. Frozen blossoms also meant there was less food for Jelinek's bees, so he had to find other food for them.
Honey bees prefer warm temperatures and calm winds to gather nectar and pollinate. Nikki Rothwell, district horticulturist for Michigan State University, said weather is key to pollination; without mild weather, the honey bees won't fly. If bad weather kills blossoms, the bees have nothing to pollinate, and they starve. Entomologists fear that if spring continues arriving early, bees may not wake from hibernation in time to pollinate and feed on the spring blossoms. A study from Cornell University in 2011 said that while bees have been keeping up with earlier springs so far, they may not be able to do so forever.
Those changes are hard on apiarists, like Nancy Adams in Kentucky, who says she's been struggling to save her hives as weather patterns shift.
Nancy Adams in Kentucky struggles to save her small apiary. Courtesy: Nancy Adams via Public Insight Network.
"My bees stayed active throughout the record breaking warm winter and I lost two-thirds of my hives to starvation related to this," Adams said. "I am losing many of my hardwood trees to blight. Flooding has damaged my farm infrastructure. I have lived here for 25 years and have not experienced anything like this prior to the last three years. I really can't anticipate any reliable profit and cannot generate a business plan related to expansion. I need support."
But while Michigan state has provided some relief to farmers who lost their orchards this spring, there is no disaster relief for apiarists. The Farm Service Agency disaster relief program, a part of the 2008 Farm Bill that offered emergency assistance to livestock owners, including beekeepers, expired September 30, 2011.
"These programs were a lifeline to a lot of livestock producers out there and they no longer exist," said USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick.
As the drought across the United States threatens other livestock, there is renewed interest in creating a program that will aid ranchers and beekeepers in the upcoming Farm Bill.
More at the link"Better stay back. They're getting mad!" Jeremy Jelinek hollers over... more
Up to 12 million bees found dead in Florida and no one knows why
By Eddie Sage on 05 October 2011
Authorities have already ruled out disease, including the infamous “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD), as the cause of a recent honeybee holocaust that took place in Brevard County, Florida.
The UK’s Daily Mail reports that up to 12 million bees from roughly 800 apiaries in the area all dropped dead at roughly the same time around September 26 — and local beekeepers say pesticides are likely to blame.
CCD is the term often used to describe the inexplicable mass die-off of honeybees around the world, which typically involves honeybees leaving their hives and, for whatever reason, never finding their way back home.
Mass die-offs associated with CCD often occur at seemingly random locations around the world, and typically involve a gradual process of disappearance and eventual colony collapse — and the dead bees are typically nowhere to be found.
But the recent Florida event involved hundreds of colonies from 30 different sites in a one-and-a-half mile radius literally dropping dead all at the same time and leaving their carcasses behind, which is why authorities have dismissed CCD as the cause.
Based on the appearance of the dead bees, as well as the synchronous timing of their deaths, pesticide sprayings appear to be the culprit in this case. “I’m a pretty tough guy, but it is heart wrenching,” said Charles Smith of Smith Family Honey Company to News 13 in Orlando. His family’s company lost an estimated $150,000 worth of bees in the recent die-off.
“Not only is it a monetary loss here, but we work really hard on these bees to keep them in good health.”
The Florida die-off coincides with a recent county-wide mosquito eradication effort, during which helicopters flew over various parts of the county and sprayed airborne pesticides.
Officials, of course, deny that this taxpayer-funded spraying initiative had anything to do with the bee genocide, though.
“The fact that it was so widespread and so rapid, I think you can pretty much rule out disease,” said Bill Kern, an entomologist from the University of Florida (UF) toFlorida Today. “It happened essentially almost in one day. Usually diseases affect adults or the brood, you don’t have something that kills them both.”
Many of the beekeepers who lost their hives in the mass killing raised their bees to sell to American farmers, who then used them to pollinate food crops. Because of their massive losses, many of these beekeepers could end up losing their entire beekeeping businesses.
Up to 12 million bees found dead in Florida and no one... more
Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives.
Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables.
Vanishing of the Bees follows commercial beekeepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they strive to keep their bees healthy and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S. The film explores the struggles they face as the two friends plead their case on Capital Hill and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees.
Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the greater meaning it holds about the relationship between mankind and mother earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alternative reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound and after years of research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery.Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing... more
Beekeeping is booming. Britain's leading association for the insects is struggling to meet demand from would-be apiarists. Despite fears that British bees are at risk of falling into a catastrophic decline from which they may not recover, a growing number of celebrity beekeepers are helping to fuel interest.
Courses in beekeeping are so oversubscribed that people are already on waiting lists for next year. Nearly 1,000 wannabe apiarists applied for 60 places on an introductory course in London this year. And the pattern is being repeated across the country, with the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) having seen its membership rocket by almost 50 per cent since 2007, from 10,000 to 14,500.
The company that made the hugely popular Eglu, which fuelled a boom in urban chicken-rearing, plans to capitalise on this later this month when it launches a futuristic plastic beehive.
The profile of beekeepers is changing fast, according to Tim Lovatt, the BBKA's president: "The average age is dropping quite noticeably. It used to be in the mid- to upper fifties but is now in the lower forties. We are also seeing more and more children becoming involved, and growing numbers of women, too."
Retailers are looking to exploit the trend. Fortnum & Mason, in central London, will start selling honey next month from its own rooftop beehives. And guests at the Royal Lancaster Hotel near London's Hyde Park are able to have honey from bees kept on the hotel roof.
The interest in all things bee-related has extended to Hollywood stars:the actor Samuel L Jackson recently bought Scarlett Johansson and husband Ryan Reynolds a beehive as a wedding gift. "Scarlett," he said, "was always talking about how the bees were dying and the planet was going to die."
Bees will be a central theme in a "Pestival" event at London's South Bank next month. Omlet, the company behind the Eglu, will be launching the Beehaus in two weeks' time. It has spent 18 months developing the brightly coloured, plastic beehive. It will come in various colours including red, green, yellow and purple.
Johannes Paul, one of the team behind the new hive, said: "It looks like a little sort of moon lander and is almost insect-like. We think it will appeal to urban beekeepers as it is much more modern and contemporary than traditional hives."
Clearly aimed at capturing the "green pound" of eco-conscious Britons, a complete kit – including a beekeeping hat and protective suit – will cost £495. Mr Paul added: "The idea is to simplify things and make it all more accessible."
Honey bees are vital for pollinating essential food crops and soft fruits. But bees are in short supply. In the past few years, hives have suffered large losses, mainly due to a disease caused by the varroa mite; the honey bee population crashed by 30 per cent during the winter of 2007-08, according to the BBKA.
The collapse in bee numbers is threatening the process of pollination which is worth hundreds of millions to the UK every year, MPs said last week. The Commons Public Accounts Committee claimed funding for research on honey bees is being "diluted" since the money is shared with research into other insects.
end of excerpt.Beekeeping is booming. Britain's leading association for the insects is... more