THE BEEYARD REPORT
It’s February 13th. It’s below zero.
A nasty wind is blowing. I don’t even want to know what
the wind chill is. Snow is everywhere. I don’t think this
bodes well for the bees. Cold weather doesn’t kill healthy
bees. It will kill bees that have been under stress. A lot of
mine were under stress in the fall and early winter. This gives
me a lot of anxiety about high winter losses. I looked in my yard
notes from last spring. We were looking at the bees on Feb 2 last
year. I had a pretty good idea where I was at by the end of February.
That won’t be happening this year.
It’s hard to plan when you don’t
know what is going to happen. We have ordered fewer queens this
year since I think death loss is going to be high. We have also
set aside packages for us. I do this every year but we haven’t
had to use any since the spring of 2000. We have set aside more
than normal this year. If the bees somehow come through, we’ll
sell off some of the packages.
There are some horror stories coming out of
California and the Southeast. One of them was that Dave Hackenberg
had lost 9000 colonies of bees. I didn’t give much credence
to that one. I knew he didn’t have that many. It turned
out to be 1900 which is about 2/3 of his operation. Occurrences
like this have been documented in 22 states. They are calling
it CCD--Colony Collapse Disorder. Nobody really knows what is
happening. Whole yards collapse. I feel like Varroa is at the
root of this but that’s just my opinion.
I saw a story on Nightline about the disappearing
orange groves in Florida. The acreage in orange groves has declined
30% during the last 10 years. Most of this ground is being developed.
In some cases it is selling as high as $15,000/acre. Orange trees
are also being attached by some exotic pests. It reminded me of
the honeybee problems. The population of Florida is going to continue
to explode. We can’t put off development but I wonder how
we maintain balance. We are going to see a lot of acres come out
of CRP in our area as the demand for corn acres increase. If all
of the ethanol plants on the books come to completion, I don’t
think there is enough corn to go around. It was pointed out to
me that someone like Cargill will probably come in at that point
and buy up the failing plants for 30 cents on the dollar.
Most of my excess honey is sold but I am holding
back more than normal in case my bee losses are catastrophic.
We have to be able to take care of our stores. There is still
work to do but this time of year I get to quit when I feel like
it. We still have some equipment left to repair and booking package
bees seems to take up quite a bit of time. One winter project
has been remodeling the kitchen. I had thought about it for years
but never got around to it. I decided I needed help if it was
ever going to happen. I have a neighbor who is good carpenter.
He put the cabinets in. The big corner cabinet wouldn’t
fit through the back door. We had to take out the kitchen window
to get it inside. We were going to replace the window anyway but
hadn’t planned to do it on a day when the temperature was
Let’s hope for a positive end to winter
and THINK SPRING!!!!!!
Submitted by Phil Ebert