Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Honey Bees and Beekeepers

This has been a wet spring, a lot like last year’s spring. Regular rains for the past several weeks have brought a number of plants into heavy bloom. One of those is privet, an ornamental hedge of home sites which escapes into the forest. The privet bloom has contributed to a fairly significant nectar flow in parts of the Mid-South. I am serving as president of Tennessee’s state-wide beekeeping organization. Let me share words I am posting today in the Tennessee Beekeepers Association’s newsletter, The Hive Tool:

Honey bees and beekeepers are resilient social creatures. We are revealing this in greater detail every day. We know from the fossil record that honey bees have occupied an ever changing environment for millions of years. Today they are facing an environment changing at a much faster pace than ever before. World trade in the past few decades has transported pests around the globe. The 1980s brought parasitic mites. The 1990s brought small hive beetles. Recent years have brought new viruses and fungal diseases. We now have Colony Collapse Disorder. Chemical use in the environment has increased dramatically, often causing stress and death of the bees. For the past three winters, America’s beekeepers have experienced colony losses averaging 30 to 40 percent. However, the bees are not all gone. With the careful observation of conditions, analysis of the problems, sharing of ideas, and plenty of hard work, beekeepers have kept the honey bee colony count numbers at close to recent levels. The beekeepers have proven to be resilient in that they have adjusted their methods to be more in tune with the honey bee’s biology. Many beekeepers are returning to more natural beekeeping techniques. Mentoring programs are teaching these less chemically-dependent methods to new beekeepers. The bees have likewise proven to be durable if given a chance. To the beekeepers, I offer my appreciation and congratulations; to the honey bees, I offer my thanks.
--Richard Underhill, President
Tennessee Beekeepers Association

1 comment:

  1. Hello Richard - I am enjoying your blog ! I am a woman urban beekeeper from NZ down in the lovely pacific ocean and find reading other blogs very informative and interesting.Like you, I enjoy taking photos of flowers and trees that are blooming and full of bee food ! I am also president of my local beekeepers club - maybe we could have some sort of correspondance between clubs ?