Saturday, September 21, 2013

Farm Week

-Posted by Isaac

Change of pace this week.
 Big Ag

Everyone knows the recent plight of the honeybee. 
"All the bees are mysteriously dying!" "The end approaches!" "Einstein once said, if all the honeybees disappeared,   ...blah, blah, blah..."
Yes, bees have their troubles. 
Varroa Mites, tracheal mites, foul brood, nosema, hive beetles, chalk brood, CCD... the list goes on. (A few foolhardy idiot beekeepers continue to "save the world" in spite of it all.)

We've dissected the problems to death. We've come up with a few solutions. Some solutions lead to more problems. 
One rarely mentioned but very big problem (the biggest, in my opinion):
Big Ag

When there's nothing to eat, honeybees don't do very well.

Big Ag
This stuff will be turned into Pepsi and cattle feed.
But if you're a honeybee, a corn field might as well be a parking lot. Just nothing tasty out there.
Back in the day, farms were small. Farms were diverse. There were fence rows. There were weeds. There were animals. Cows, pigs, horses, chickens, sheep, goats.... dogs, cats.... bees...
A little clover here, a little alfalfa there. A garden, a grape vine or two.
There were people.  It took a lot of caring hands, some responsibility, some love to watch over it all and see that things happened just so so.

See any of that now?

Agriculture has changed. And with it, beekeeping. (Society too, I might add.)
For the better? Progress? Hmmmm....
Listening to the radio this week I heard one particular ad (about a hundred times) for a new Syngenta fungicide / insecticide spray for soybeans. For next year! It's September, for God's sake!
Man oh man... What are they going to say about us in a hundred years?

Well, I'll get off my soap box. If you can't beat'em, join'em, right? My brother happens to be one of these big farmers. About this time of year the crops come off and he needs some help. I got to spend a rather enjoyable week driving this white Freightliner:

Yes, just like the Towns Van Zandt song.

But it wasn't all trucking.
One morning I worked in the buckwheat. The field had finished its bloom and thinking we might get another bloom in October, I bush hogged it and ran a cultiipacker through later to push the seeds down. Mason tried his hand at tractor driving.

After bush hogging over a few gardens, some puppies and cute little kittens, we decided that he'd  learned enough for one day.

We grabbed Mommy and made it to the Farm Science Review:

There, we found tractors.

Big Tractors.

Little Tractors.

And Big Sprayers.

And Little Sprayers.

And Combines Too!

Mason is quite the fan of Big Ag. It was better then Christmas. He probably climbed on thirty different things.
And he wanted nothing to do with the small hidden beekeeping display off in the corner of the OSU gardens.
Maizy and Bridger just enjoyed giving their parental slaves a workout.
Generation Lazy
At least they aren't texting.

After two hours of Big Ag and Mason's perpetual excitement; running, climbing, yelling, trying on a new tractor about every ten feet... Mommy, Daddy and Bridger all felt the same:


  1. Interesting that you claim that bees don't like corn, because our sweet corn in the garden is packed with them. And those acres of evil field corn? They have quiet a few also. We have a local bee keeper who's hives are right next to our corn fields and we feed them happily for him. Do you have any personal experience of bees not liking corn or are you simply going on hearsay?
    We still have fence rows and weeds and clover and horses and cows thank you very much. The acres of corn are interspersed with hay ground, CRP, wheat, beans, pasture, tree rows, you name it. Maybe there are places somewhere with no variety but I don't believe I have ever seen one.

    1. Yes, bees will collect corn pollen when there's not much else. Especially sweet corn pollen. It's not good (low protein). I do have plenty of experience with bees and corn. Basically half a lifetime and plenty of pictures to show for it. But, as I said, bees need diversity... the fence rows, tree rows, the CRP that you're supporting. THANK YOU! I didn't write that particular blog post to to ruffle feathers (who says corn is evil?), I simply wanted to bring some awareness to that fact that agriculture has changed so much in the last few decades. Back in the 30's, 40's and 50's Ohio was in the top 10 honey producing states in the nation. No longer. Farms were small, more diverse, and bees had something to EAT. I'm seeing acres of monocrop corn and beans to the horizon around here. More fence rows come out every winter. I'm not saying that's a bad thing (only if you make a living producing honey), I'm saying that it is what it is. Sorry if I offended. Thanks for reading our blog.