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!
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?
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 - [quote]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? [/quote]
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!
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.
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 7º. 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 5-6º, 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.
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!
[quote]Of course, better health is far cheaper, in the long run![/quote]
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.
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.
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.!!!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have English Thyme, Greek Oregano, Rosemary, Mint, and Sage, that have survived several years of drought. I grew Parsley in the ground for the first time last summer, and it survived triple digit temperatures. Sadly, most of it has not survived the voles!
Herbs are excellent sources for bees. I don't know if herbs produce nectar and/or pollen, but both are essential for honeybee survival.
The white Dutch clover in our front yard attracts honeybees.
Do not plant red clover (Trifolium pratense) for honeybees, their tongues are not long enough to reach the nectaries. It is, however, favoured by bumble bees.
Crimson clover, (Trifolium incarnatum) on the other hand, is attractive to honeybees. I sowed this one winter, and when it bloomed the following spring, I hated to pull it up because it was covered in honeybees.
A few years ago the cilantro in my flower beds grew like crazy (when we had rain) , bloomed and had lots of bees on it. But I can't get thyme, oregano or mint (which is a surprise) to live through the summer (have tried several times.) Someone else in this area suggested planting the mint on the north side of a structure to see if that would help it survive our heat. Rosemary and some kinds of basil grow pretty good here though so we'll plant more of those.
I have seed for the Dutch clover and will be planting it when we get a good soaking rain (may it be soon.) I'm guessing that the crimson clover also likes the cooler weather (???) Will work on getting seed for that.
Ah yes, vitex - will definately be planting/propogating more of that.
Stock Seeds in Nebraska sells Crimson Clover seed for about $3.95 a lb - I planted some last winter and the bees liked it. But it isn't drought hardy at all, I could only keep the parts by my organic garden wet enough to keep it alive long enough to bloom. It is an annual. I replanted with wildflower seeds there this year, they send deeper roots down.
New petition to try and get neonic pesticides off the U.S. market, they may be responsible for CCD
New study shows @EPAgov should suspend use of the #pesticide that's killing #bees. Take action now: http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/efsa_bees/?rc=tw1
Want bees? We live in a 200 year old farmhouse and, every year, bees move into a wall of the north side of the house. A couple of months later, the hive gets so big that it splits and the half that splits off gathers on the neighbors deck railing - as it did last year, and then leaves a day or two later. We are doing our part keeping our area supplied with bees. I wish we could get a beekeeper in here, but have a hard time finding one that can get them out of the wall. Several years ago, we had the house sided, and they cut the wall open and removed the nest. (This was in a Pennsylvania January). The following spring, the bees found a way in again. You should hear the sound coming from the wall next to my computer desk when they are swarming!
After the beekeeper comes and removes the bees, or as part of the agreement for his visit, it is important to find all the openings the bees are using to come and go. I am a "handyman" type contractor with business liability insurance so we do a bit more in looking for access points, but working on ladders and doing caulk work at the peak of an old house is a fairly risky business, and whether the beekeeper would do a followup and do this is up to his individual terms.
If you would like to find a beekeeper to do your removal, you can check at
I'm in Texas, so the drive would be a bit much for the bees. And most beekeepers won't do the removal til it is warm enough for the bees to survive the move. Charges may vary. A new beekeeper or one who has had significant losses may charge much less, as they need the bees.
I just found this forum and am glad to see so many concerned about bees and gardening for health and other reasons. I just read a good book that has me wondering if I am a good steward of the land. Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis has me rethinking a lot about gardening. They really talk about the microbes, bacteria, nematodes, and fungi, to name a few, of the organisms needed for healthy plants. All of them affected by the chemicals that are abusing the soil and those who live beneath our feet.
I have organically gardened and bee kept for the last 15 plus years --at least I thought I was! When I found this forum, I was looking for one on compost tea--but diverted when I saw 'bees' in the title. I think that compost tea made to feed the soil organisms will be my 'go to' additive from now on.
I haven't ever had colony collapse disorder, but I do get a lot of hive beetles, a few mites and wax moths do a number on my bees in winter. Working to be a better beekeeper and gardener...
Hi tnbeelady I'm curious to know if you have Langstroth hives, Warre hives or top bar hives?
Also, did you find any forums where they were discussing compost tea? I've heard of people using an aquarium pump to aerate compost tea so that the benificial bacteria can multiply faster - don't know much else about it though.
I'll be looking for the book Teaming with Microbes, sounds interesting.