Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's Going On Here?

When the soybeans and cotton are in bloom in the Arkansas Delta, nectar is flowing; and beekeepers avoid brood nest examinations. Instead, they simply monitor the hives to ensure that the bees have sufficient honey storage capacity. While asking what’s going on in the hives, the beekeeper checks to see that all hives are healthy and “queenright,” meaning having an egg-laying queen bee. Observing from the outside of the hives, beekeepers watch hive entrances for flight activity; there should be a significant number of foragers leaving and entering the hives. Viewing returning workers carrying loads of pollen on their hind legs usually means a colony is feeding brood. Seeing some dead bees on the ground in front of a hive is normal, but finding hundreds of dead may signal a hive problem. A discolored or greasy hive landing board sometimes indicates a weakened colony is being robbed of honey stores by bees from other hives. If observations from the outside appear normal, the beekeeper opens each hive to examine honey supers and add supers as necessary. If there is little bee activity in the supers, the beekeeper should examine the brood nest for healthy bees and a laying queen. Today’s photo shows pearly white larvae of healthy young brood in open cells. Finding open brood in a pattern of continuous cells indicates the hive held a productive egg-laying queen in recent days.

The acquisition of firms dealing with honey bee health by big chemical companies is worrisome to beekeepers. Many are afraid that their interest in profiting from the sale of pesticides will cause them to quell research and silence unfavorable findings regarding the effect of chemicals on bees, beneficial insects, and pollinators. Zhara Um Nikko asks, “What’s going on here?” She reads about Monsanto’s September 2011 purchase of Beeologics, a firm devoted to studying and protecting bees, Also, Natural News,, questions whether Monsanto’s purchase of Beelogics will support research or quell the flow of information.

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