The Beekeeping Crisis
The honey bee is in the news, from the movie about "killer" bees to documentaries on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and evening news reports on why Washington or Sacramento isn't "doing something about the problem."
Our sons started out at ages 10 and 14 with four hives they ordered through the mail. In these nine years we've had only one "Africanized" aggressive hive fly in and set up a colony. The queen can be replaced, then a new generation of bees soon replaces the old.
Loses of roughly 20% or more through a winter is normal. This is up from about 10% just 20 years ago. Hives are given new queen bees and divided each summer to build up again.
Some beekeepers sue insecticide companies for producing certain sprays. Whereas county mosquito abatement men use to set fish in cow's water and irrigation ponds to eat mosquitos, they now just spray. This can devastate hives. Local county spray notification requirements for are beneficial so hives can be moved away while spraying crops, as well as respect between farmers and beekeepers.
The dramatic problem of Colony Collapse Disorder, when a colony flies off and never returns, may be overplayed. One beekeeper whose bees are in widely dispersed locations some high in the mountains claimed 90% loses one year.
A summer location for honey production may begin well but become treacherous as the weather changes. In one location we lost 300 hives. When hives begin to decline we must move them quickly. Our loses to insecticides have been in cotton, alfalfa & oranges. With a parasitic mite beekeepers deal with each winter as well as other bee diseases, some beekeepers burdened with expensive regulations are turning to government for help.
More regulation eliminates most small farms. Subsides only lead to more government control, and what the government controls it ruins. Just look at the American family farm, so regulated and controlled, it's nearly gone. My South Dakota cousin whose farm I worked on as a boy says there use to be seven or eight farms between town and the Paul place. Now he tells me there are three and they're huge. The store windows on Main Street in Doland are all but boarded up.
Bee keeping is a tough profession, but can’t bee people imagine inspectors taxing, regulating, inspecting hive boxes, ticketing, red tagging, requiring attendance to refresher courses on state regulations for bee keeping and, of course, passing the examination for certification as an “approved” state beekeeper?
Thank God, this is not the case yet. So far we have grown a family business by working together with no employees.
Obama's Zar, Rom Emanuel says, "Never let a crisis go to waste." When the national government holds up the bee crisis, they are attempting to gain more control.
Bees can thrive when beekeepers keep a close eye on their bees and move them each season to a location that is ideal for that time.
Getting it Right ... David Seppi