Products of the Hive

Why are the bees dying? 

Well the scientist out there will tell you that it’s some sort of virus or some sort of genetic deficiency linked to all the pesticides or cell phone usage. Well I went to talk to an expert that I know, he’s been doing this since his early teens.  He’s built his business from the ground up and I’ve known him all my life.  He’s my dad.

If you don’t know much about beekeeping first you need to know a little bit about the process.  I’m going to briefly go thru the process that I know and grew up with. 

Summer Time – Bees are making honey.  InNorth Dakotathe clover is blooming and the bees are busy working.  This statement has to hold some truth seeing thatNorth Dakotawas just awarded with the “TopHoneyProducingStatein the Nation” for the 6th straight year in a row.

Fall – The leaves are falling and the beekeepers are “robbing” the honey from the hives and preparing to ship them to warmer climates. 

Winter – Lots of the bees in the country are inCaliforniafor pollination.  Without themCalifornia’s income from oranges, almonds, plums, ect… would be remarkably less. The public would soon feel the impact when theUnited Stateshas to increase it’s fruit imports to meet demands.  Next the cost at the checkout counter would reflect this with marked increases.

Spring – Beekeepers are doing splits (they take a strong hive and split off half of it to make two or more, from one) and preparing the bees to move back north.

Now that you have a general idea of the year round life of a bee hive let’s get into the issue here, “Why the bees are dying”. 

A few years ago when this all started, the winter inCaliforniawas colder than it usually is.  Why would this have any affect on the bees?  Colder weather means a couple of things when it comes to a hive. 

  1. Queen bees stop laying eggs.  The average life of a bee is about a 50 – 60 days. If you have a queen not laying any eggs, the population is going to start dwindling. 
  2. The bees do not go out and pollinate, which means they are not going out and eating.  It’s got to be pretty obvious what happens when something stops eating. 

Yes, they get weak, sick and then die.

These things combined will have a drastic effect on a hive.  A good beekeeper will know that you can’t control Mother Nature, but you can try to help the bees through it.

Bees are livestock, and just like cattle, horses, sheep, and even the family pet, they need attention and care.

Feeding and medicating them is a standard practice.  Unfortunately some bees get parked inCaliforniafor the winter and are not tended too as often as they should be. 

They are prone to pesticides that farmers and even the home gardeners use.  How many of you reading this, have ever sprayed for bugs in and around you homes? Now multiply that by thousands.  It is an ever-increasing problem.

Mites are another difficulty for the bees. Yeah, bees get mites and they need to be treated otherwise the hive will weaken and die off. 

 As far as the hives mysteriously disappearing… 

Bees are neat freaks!  Whenever a bee dies the worker bees will collect the little carcass and discard it outside of the hive.  If the hive were dying off, there would be an abundance of dead bees in and around that hive, unless pesticides overtook them while out foraging for pollen and nectar.

While there may be no immediate answer to the problem, I believe attention to these issues will go a long way in helping the bees rebound. 

As a precaution, we have also taken cell phones away from our bees, as texting and flying is a sure disaster waiting to happen.

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