Greetings from the President of the IHPA
Dear Honey Producers,
Wow, the weather can change here in Iowa. Last
month’s article stated that I was writing this column in
Blizzard conditions. Those “conditions” were nothing
compared to the blizzard that dumped on us March 1st. The old
adage better be true, if March comes in like a lion it will go
out like a lamb. We couldn’t even find most of our beehives,
they were completely covered with snow. It didn’t take too
long for them to reappear though. The heat from the hives melted
the snow covering them and there was room for the honey bees to
fly out and about. It is truly quite an amazing sight to see them
flying and walking around in the snow. The evidence of them flying
is also quite visible! I am quite ready for another weather saying,
April showers bring May flowers.
I would suggest that you register your hives
with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship department.
I have had reports that the website it hard to navigate and it
is too much trouble. Go to your local FSA office and register
your colonies with them if you would feel more comfortable doing
it there. It isn’t that difficult to do on the computer,
but if you have problems Maury Wills is more than willing to help
you. Maury can be reached at (515) 281-5783 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It is a whole lot nicer to register those hives now than wish
you would have when you encounter a problem with sprayers and
chemicals. If you don’t register, you can’t get any
help with your losses.
Please keep track of your colony losses this
year. It will help with the statistics from Iowa and the rest
of the country when the research is being done on the Colony Collapse
Disorder (CCD). In an information update that we received from
the American Beekeeping Federation this week, some issues have
been identified and the industry needs to take a look at these
to see what can be done and to aid the research being done on
CCD. Some of the suggestions include:
Check Your Colonies Often. Keep
in touch with what is happening inside your beehives. If you are
having a problem, the sooner you recognize it, the better.
Don’t “Double Up” the
Dead -Outs. Some affected beekeepers have stacked their
dead-outs onto supposedly healthy colonies only to have the second
hive collapse soon after. The current recommendation is to store
the dead-outs away from your bees so they can’t rob them
out. (see http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/index.html for a complete
list of recommendations). A related, long term recommendation
is to replace old dark brood combs with foundation; this practice
has been recommended as good management practices on the basis
of previous research.
Feed Your Bees. Beekeepers who
feed more have fared better than their neighbors who had stored
honey their bees were consuming. This surfaced in Florida recently.
When cold weather curtailed the nectar flow, beekeepers felt their
colonies suffered more than expected; the theory is that the colonies
went back to consuming old stored honey. And, don’t neglect
Evaluate Your Locations. While
no suspect has been confirmed as a cause for CCD, we have become
concerned about the widespread use of a relatively new class of
systemic insecticides on an increasing number and variety of crops.
These neonicotinoids, even at doses that are not deadly to individual
bees, may cause sublethal effects that may lead to colony mortality
or reduced productivity. This class of compounds is known to impair
learning and memory and modify many honey bee behaviors and disrupt
the social organization of the colony. You may want to talk to
farmers or orchardists in your areas of operation and ask them
to warn you about applications of products containing neonicotinoids,
so that you can avoid exposure. Some beekeepers think CCD is linked
to bees being located near corn, soybeans, or cotton-crops on
which neonicotinoids are heavily used.
Complete the Survey: Go to www.beesurvey.com
and complete the beekeeper survey-whether or not you feel that
your colonies are suffering from CCS. The information collected
will remain confidential- you do no necessarily have to give your
name. The surveys may help identify common links for affected
Contact your Congressman. Your
United States Congressman needs to hear from you about the problems
facing the beekeeping industry. There is a push for a general
appropriations increase in funds. The ARS Bee labs are shrinking.
Each lab has at least one open position; leaving the position
open frees up money for the remaining scientists to use for research
and field work. There have been no significant new funds appropriated
for honey bee research in decades. The CCD crisis illuminated
significant gaps in what we know about our industry. Here are
some unknowns; number of beekeepers; amount of pollination activity
(how many bees rented, how much revenue earned); how many colonies
die and are rebuilt in the course of a normal year; how many queens
and packages are sold.
These same questions come up in our IHPA board
meetings. Just how many beekeepers do we have in the state of
Iowa? How many colonies are managed in Iowa? We could really use
all the members that we can get to help bring the industry into
the focus of the consumers.
I took oldest son, Shawn and his family to St.
Louis to catch a plane to Germany. They are to be there for a
few years. Time to plan a vacation. Enjoy spring!
Donna Brahms, IHPA President