“The bee is domesticated but not tamed.”
Thoughts on Bees
The front page headline in Time magazine 2 weeks back was entitled “A World Without Bees.” Much of the factual information to follow comes from that article.
- Bee pollination accounts for approximately 1/3 of our food
- Bee pollination increases crop yield $15 billion annually
- The average lifespan of a worker bee is 3 weeks, a queen 3-7 yrs
- The stinger’s barb prevents withdrawal – the bee must tear its abdomen and, therefore, dies
- A worker bee can visit 100 flowers with each trip from the hive
- An average hive consists of 20,000 – 30,000 bees
- There are 6 main types of bees kept commercially – mine are Carnolian
- A worker bee can produce 1/12 teaspoon of honey during its lifespan
- Bees communicate through an intricate flying dance
We have all heard about the problem with bees since 2006 – Colony Collapse Disorder. Whole hives just disappear from the hive for no apparent reason. There is no one known culprit to pin the blame, but rather, a host of problems. The Varroa mite and Nosema are treated heavily with chemicals, there are more than 1200 pesticides registered for use in the U.S., and with our monoculture in agriculture there is few acres for prairie, CRP land, aka ‘bee habitat’.
The article concluded that it is a coin toss as to whether the honeybee will survive. “Bees may end up being managed like pigs, chickens and cattle, where we put them in a confinement and bring the food to them. You could do feedlot beekeeping.” Harvard has been doing research since 2007 on a Robobee that could do artificial pollination as well as surveillance, search and rescue, etc. In Southwest China, where massive pesticide use has killed off all of the bees, farmers laboriously hand -pollinate pear and apple trees with brushes.
My 8 hives are doing average. Two are robust, 3 are fair, 2 are poor and one died out. I will probably spin about 18 gallons of honey in October. The bees can be seen and heard ALL over the crops as we weed, irrigate and harvest. They seem to be such a natural partner on the farm and I hope to keep it that way.
- Full shares receive the canteloupe and half shares get sweet corn
- Eat the Sungold as they turn orange, right before they split
- Slicer tomatoes are not a great crop – cherry tomatoes are excellent and the Romas, forthcoming, are good
- Red potatoes are finished. We will take a few week break before beginning the Cascade baking potato
- Beets are a farmer’s choice with Chard – more beets later in the fall
- Melons are juicy and sweet. Everyone will get one next week
- The Sungolds halved with some fresh garlic, balsamic and olive oil, along with basil and parmesan is so tasty
- Make some salsa and enjoy the hot days of summer!!
- Wash all of your produce before you eat it