Mystery of the Disappearing Bees - Solved.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Just saw this article about Colony Collapse Disorder in bees:

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/04/09/mystery-of-the-disappearing-bees-solved/

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Very interesting article, but sad. We need to change the way we farm in this country.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I started keeping honeybees in 1976 and gave up beekeeping in 1985. During those years I attended beekeeper meetings where we discussed the perils of pesticides and their effects on bees. We wrote letters - nobody listened!

Perhaps NOW we have their attention!

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

I won't pretend to be an expert on this subject, but I find the following quote from this article to be extremely alarming: "Every spring millions of bee colonies are trucked to the Central Valley of California and other agricultural areas to replace the wild pollinators, which have all but disappeared in many parts of the country. These bees are routinely fed high-fructose corn syrup instead of their own nutritious honey."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that High Fructose Corn Syrup coming from the corn that has been sprayed with the very neonics that are thought to be the cause of the CCD?

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

That's a good point GardenSox.

Maybe the organic farmers/gardeners should keep honeybees as well so the bees don't completely die out.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

The problem is that unless you live out on a prairie, the bees will likely travel far enough to get into some nasty stuff even if your place is pesticide-free.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

greenhouse_gal - Honeybees usually collect nectar close to their home. BUT - if food is in short supply they will fly as far as five miles. Any further than that and they need to use up the nectar they just collected to get back home.

Ladypearl - organic gardeners do keep honeybees. Some of them have reported that they have not experienced colony collapse, others have said they have.

GardenSox -

Quoting:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that High Fructose Corn Syrup coming from the corn that has been sprayed with the very neonics that are thought to be the cause of the CCD?


When I read that honeybees were being fed High Fructose Corn Syrup I thought it could not be correct. It's been many years since I kept honeybees, but if I remember correctly HFCS gave them diarrhea! The only substitute for nectar that should be fed to honeybees is plain old table sugar dissolved in pure water!

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Good points Honeybee. I'm an organic garden and hope to get a couple of top bar hives after I educate myself on the ins and outs of bee keeping. I've been told that the book "Bee Keeping for Dummies" is a good source for learning the basics.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Ladypearl - I have a copy of "The Hive and the Honeybee" which is now out of print. I suspect the book you mentioned will be a good start for you.

Be sure you and your family are not allergic to bee stings. You WILL get stung! Also the "supers" (which is what hive boxes are called) are very heavy when loaded with honey.

Good luck with your bee keeping adventure - like everything connected with gardening, it's a labor of love. ^_^

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Thank you Honeybee!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Many of you know I promote high Brix to increase nutrient density in our foods. A couple of days ago I read that honeybees will not take nectar from plants with a Bx of less than 7. Our vegetables (and fruits) we grow have far less nutrient quality than they did 50 years ago (proven by USDA published numbers) so I believe in some ways our conventional ag practices (and our homeowner practices) also have contributed to the colony collapse.

When I consider my first measurments of Brix in my garden 5 years ago and it was a disappointing 5-6, I could see that I wasn't growing enough nutrition for me, much less now knowing what the bees need. I'm still working to improve my soil to get the Brix up. It's important to know and remember that in our soils, The Bacteria Eat First. If we don't feed them properly (and that's more than just NPK), they don't feed the plants well enough, and what the plants grow don't feed us well.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I'm sure this would take volumes to explain, but I do wonder how you get your Brix up. And I assume that you have a means of monitoring your results, but how?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Increasing Brix is very much a matter of soil micro-organisms, and proper feed for them. Measurement is easy; I have a refractometer.

Here's an article I wrote on Brix for DG several years ago. (I've learned lots since then...)

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1670/

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Facinating, darius. I just priced a refractometer on the web site link from your article and it was over $100.

I'm all for getting more nutrition from my food. Do you have any pointers you care to share, either here or on your web site?

I do add trace minerals to my garden every year, plus crab shell and kelp meal. I also purchase several brands of organic fertilizers and mix them all together.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

You should be able to get a decent refractometer still for around $50, maybe a tad less. Shop around. The only requirement is that it go from 0-32 Brix; temperature compensation is nice but not necessary for the home gardener.

I'm working on an improved plan for soil amendments, once I understand all the various calcium compounds needed (4-6 different types). It's complicated, and ordinary (inexpensive) soil tests won't tell you enough, and the good ones are expensive in comparison. That's been one of my barriers because I can't afford to find out what my soil really has... but I'm hoping to do that this year. Of course, better health is far cheaper, in the long run!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Quoting:
Of course, better health is far cheaper, in the long run!


I've been telling folks that for years - but most of them don't get the connection.

I don't think anyone believed me when I told them my two children NEVER got a cold. I'm aghast at the idea that the "normal" number is five or six a year! I've only had one cold since I was 18. That was in 2006 when my hubby almost died - I think it was the stress that caused the cold.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Honeybee, THAT (good health) has been my guiding principal over the last several years of writing about gardening, first for DG before the new ownership, and then on my blog.

Yet as you say, most don't get the connection; they still use chemically-formulated NPK indiscriminately, and use Roundup like it was plant elixer. sigh.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

darius - two houses up the street a neighbor has a lawn that looks like expensive green carpet. He's out there frequently with a large container of Roundup spraying anything that doesn't fit with his idea of a perfect lawn! I won't let the dogs anywhere near his place because I'm afraid they might be poisoned.

My front "lawn" is turning into an area covered in Dutch white clover. It's never watered or fertilized. We do have to be careful of honeybees attracted to the nectar.

The backyard is covered with a 6" to 9" deep layer of beautiful brown leaves, intersperesed with raised beds full of edibles or flowers. Sometimes I don't have to add mulch to the raised beds, the wind does it for me.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I wish I had leaves... all our trees are up on the mountain behind the house (19 acres) but none make it down the hill to the yard. The trees I'm planting won't drop many leaves for a few years. The strip between our creek and the road has only black walnut trees, and of course those are allelopathic.

I intended to get some white clover sown last fall, but never got around to it. It's great for the soil!

Don't get me started on those using RoundUp! I'd keep my dogs away too.!!!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Apparently the honeybee demise is NOT solved...
http://boingboing.net/2012/05/07/the-honeybees-are-still-dying.html

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks for the link, darius.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Beekeepers Win Ban on Monsanto's GMOs in Poland
http://www.organicconsumers.org/bytes/ob328.htm

Monsanto's Mon810 corn, genetically engineered to produce a mutant version of the insecticide Bt, has been banned in Poland following protests by beekeepers who showed the corn was killing honeybees.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Good to read this, but I wish that site put dates on their news items!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I had already emptied my email trash bin for the week before I posted that link, so I had to find the story online. The newsletters usually have dates and source links. Sorry.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

It's time for Monsanto to pick up their marbles and go home!

Fort Worth, TX

Just a brief howdy! Apparently I joined Dave's a few years ago. Probably didn't have time to keep up. Now it has to fit between my bee forums and my aquatics forum, but 2 years into beekeeping, I have more to listen to, and more to say. Working on sustainability too.

Guess I need to become a subscribing member to get to the good stuff. Like how to trade plants on this site? I've got some stuff going well and some I need.

Anyway, howdy. From Gypsi and her Bees.

Thumbnail by Gypsi
Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Hi Gypsi and welcome back - sounds like you are quite busy! Say, do you know any good bee sites for somebody just starting into top bar hives? I have been getting two hives ready for bees I'll purchase this coming spring (unless somebody finds some swarms they don't want.)
Did you try the "Plant Trading" forum?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gypsi - You might want to try Dadant - they have been in business for many years.

http://www.dadant.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=32

I used to be a beekeeper in my (much) younger days :)

Fort Worth, TX

I already order from Dadant - but won't have to get much this year, I bought so much this past spring. Thank you though. I belong to a bee forum that is very helpful too, and they do have a small top bar forum.
It is www.beekeepingforums.com. Because I am too busy I just ordered Langstroth 10 frame everything, deep bottoms, medium (Illinois) supers. Being able to mix match and move stuff around without powering up a saw is a big plus. I do run foundationless frames mixed with plasticell, now that I know what I'm doing. I've heard that bees won't draw out comb on either. Mine did just fine.

Beekeeping today takes lots of experienced help. I went it alone with a local beekeeper who wasn't terribly studious when I got started in 2011, and had a dead hive by the end of July. Then I went and found a forum of people who knew what they were doing, got my dead hive warranted out for a couple of frames of bees and some beat up equipment. By October I had them mite-free and up to 7 frames but they got robbed out. (probably by the swarm I lost in early may).... I finally joined my local bee club right after the rob out. (short of moving my bees 20 miles away to an area without starving local hives I could not have saved them I think - chalk that up to small hive plus drought)

I only bought a couple of nucs this spring, at 5 living hives right now, plus my neighbor caught one of my swarms, bought himself a couple of boxes, and he's got hive 6. We're feeding bee candy this winter as we are in a drought and dearth, and they are marginal on winter stores. But I got mine all built up to 2 boxes of bees and stores, went through about 100 pounds of sugar (mixed with water) doing it.

CCD is not as mysterious among beekeepers as it seems to be to the media. Varroa carry several diseases,
I suspect the neonicotinid pesticides contribute, and certainly mosquito spraying didn't do the bees much good this year. Bee management is much more difficult with all of these factors, plus small hive beetle, but in my experience, it isn't impossible.

HFCS is not what I consider a good food to feed my bees. I left them all their honey, plus fed them Imperial Pure Cane Sugar, dissolved in water. Something about the minutae in each, the bee forum has better scientific info on that.

This message was edited Dec 22, 2012 10:14 PM

Thumbnail by Gypsi
Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

That beekeepingforums.com certainly does have a lot of good info!

Fort Worth, TX

LadyPearl,

Dave's Garden has a ton of good info too.

I am so tired from dealing with the cold front and livestock, lost one of my hens on Christmas, Finally got the goat securely penned tonight I think. I have looked at the plant trading part, but haven't had time to really find out how it works, AND, I'd have to have time to list all that I have to trade and go through what is available. I may never find the time the way things are going. Have my 2 year old grandbaby this weekend so I can get some rest. (sure won't be opening beehives or running saws with her around.)

It's all a joy... My greenhouse is still full of Lowes surplus discounted plants, which, miraculously, haven't frozen out there. It isn't heated. But it is sheltered from wind.

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Yeah, the weather has been bitterly cold since the 25th, especially at night. Sorry to hear you lost a hen! One of my silly bantams sat on a clutch in November unbeknownst to us and she hatched out seven chicks (on Dec 2nd). One died recently from the cold. At night I bring them in the house in an old portable cage and then put them back out if the weather is warm enough. For four days straight they had to stay inside though because their pen was full of snow! It has finally melted. It was warm enough today to actually get in the garden and pull weeds.
We've bought a bunch of bushes and plants on Lowes clearance before and it was quite a blessing. But the last two summers of drought did a lot of them in. Now we are only planting things like dessert willows, vitex and arbor vitae - plants that can take the heat and drought (we water them when neccessary.)
Yes, Dave's Garden does have a lot of info and I can (but shouldn't) sit for hours and just look stuff up - hard to get all my chores done when doing that lol !

Fort Worth, TX

This is my first time on here in a couple of weeks. I bought vitex and rose of sharon marked down 80% at Plant Shed before the great Lowes raid. Finally got those in the ground just before this cold front (friday/saturday).
The lowes stuff I just repotted, they can sit in the green house til their leaves match the weather. Got a couple of gardenias and vines, stuff I'm going to have to water, might as well hold them in the greenhouse til spring. If they go dormant in there I will plant outside.

I lost one of my young oaks - it wasn't quite dead, but it started looking poorly on one limb during the 2005-2006 drought, and by this summer it was 80% poorly, at 10 years old, so I just took it down before oak wilt got it and spread it to my live oak. It was a shumardi.

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Yep, Gypsi, the droughts have really taken a toll on the shrubs and trees. I haven't heard of a shumardi oak, will have to look that up.

Someday I hope to have a greenhouse since the garage is gettin kinda crowded! It's great that you have one and can keep those plants out of the weather.

Anybody tried growing vitex from seed? If the ones we planted make it through this cold snap, I'm thinking about getting some more (or planting the seed I saved if they grow from seed.)

Fort Worth, TX

I gave away a bunch of vitex seed at my bee club hoping someone would have time to start some. I haven't got the time and bad about not keeping things well watered. I THINK they would grow from seed. They may also start from long slips, a lot of shrubs will, if started in the winter. I may take a few cuttings tomorrow and stick them in the ground. Worse they can do is NOT grow.

Roses start that way. And so does Abelia.

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Okay, I will try those methods too and see what happens. Thanks!

Fort Worth, TX

To do shrub or rosebush cuttings choose a fairly young stem (not heavy wood), cut a foot, be sure you have 6 inches or more underground and that there are a few nodes on the underground part. Keep ground moist. Don't plan on moving it or do it in very early spring as soon as you know which cuttings took.

Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

I may try the shrubs. All my knockout roses died in the drought the last two years : (

Fort Worth, TX

I have old queen elizabeth roses, pink. Started from a neighbor's queen elizabeth JUST before her husband dug up her 20 year old rose bush back in the mid 90"s. Not hybrids or grafts.
They start from cuttings well. No idea where Iowa Park is but you are welcome to cuttings.

I also have red once a year bloom premier climbers that started as cuttings from a bush I bought around 1992. A rottweiler pup ate my rose, I trimmed the slips and shoved them in the compost pile and in the spring had 7 rosebushes to give away. Which is how I learned to start roses. But these only bloom, very heavily, in april. Queen E's bloom all year.

This message was edited Jan 17, 2013 2:00 PM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Ladypearl - I think the Knockout roses I have in containers are gonners, too. The ones under the tree still look okay.

Thumbnail by HoneybeeNC

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images
    BACK TO TOP