Sunday, August 25, 2013
Sunday Reading Part 2 - More on Bees
If you read my earlier post you are now ready for part II. If you haven't read the earlier post I would suggest you scroll down and do so.
I have mentioned bee keepers using larger cell sizes in an attempt to create larger "drone" sized worker bees and how many theorize that was the major cause of the mite explosion along with reducing swarming which eliminated the cycle break in mite breeding. There are a few other peculiarities of modern day bee keeping that add to the general problem.
Cheap energy has effected bees as much as it has our own lives. 100 years ago if an almond farmer benefited from bees he had to establish his own colonies. Today large operations truck bees all over the country. Of course this is going to have the effect of spreading traits to areas they may not have managed to get to under normal situations. I would also suggest that it may have in fact spread traits that while not totally "africanized" might contain some element of that DNA. Africanized bees reportedly do not over Winter well but I imagine just as with humans there are plenty of in between pairings that may not carry all the genes good or bad. A queen in Michigan may well have Africanized traits but doesn't test as being completely Africanized in a lab.
This might also explain why bees in general seem to be getting more defensive even in areas that have not been officially Africanized yet.
The same factors have created a situation where it is cheaper to buy processed sugar to replace honey taken in larger amounts than the bees can afford to lose. Without their natural food bees maybe able to survive on processed sugar but they will not be as strong or healthy. Yet many large operations will take all the honey and then fit the hives with huge feeders to keep the bees alive. Well you can only do that so much before it begins to catch up with you.
It is interesting that the states with less migratory bee industry are also those least effected by CCD. It could be a simple numbers game but even in looking at percentages the states with less migratory mono-cultures seem to fare better.
Also these areas of huge mono-cultural plantings run the risk of spreading insecticides to the hives. I know locally I have lost bees to crop spraying, I have seen it happen. As I write this my neighbor has his big sprayer truck parked across the road with a tanker ready to spray his bean field. Since we are not in a mono-culture however I will not lose as many bees. So many of my girls are out in the pastures hitting the first of the goldenrod now or in the food plots on the sunflowers. If all they had to work were beans they would be in trouble.
A local bee keeper who's father ran over 1000 hives a few decades ago has spent three years trying to get his bee keeping business started. I talked to him four years ago when he was laying out all these grand plans and immediately pissed him off when I told him it wouldn't work. Last I heard just this weekend after his third failed year and some 60 or more thousand bucks he is in debt for he has given up. It just is not possible for small operations to keep that many bees alive under the new normal. Extra costs of medicating and checking hives add too much and requires much more overhead in expenses and in employees.
As these traits continue small local bee keepers will fill the niche. Farmers who used to rely on renting bees from large operations will once again need to begin keeping their own hives and local genetics will once again be free to deal with local problems and conditions not intermixed in such a way as to be a detriment to their survival.
As I said in part 1 the bees problems these days are merely a mirror of our own.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!