-Posted by Isaac
We all need rich, wholesome and diverse diets.
And of course, the bees:
This was an interesting Montana bee yard. The hives had feeders on in the middle of the summer. My only guess is that this beekeeper is ignoring the income (and work) of any potential honey crop and simply prepping the hives for the big pollination money that comes with California almonds.
We're not set up for almond pollination, so we've got to buckle down for another long Ohio winter:
Any well populated hive weighing under 60 pounds or so will need supplemental food.
This constitutes maybe a quarter of them.
It's time to start winter feeding our girls. The patty in the above photo is a sugary blend of fondant, Honey Bee Healthy, lemon juice and cinnamon.
I like to experiment. The cinnamon idea came from Jim Doan, the commercial beekeeper who was interviewed in the Time Magazine article about CCD. He puts a "healthy dose" of protein and cinnamon in all of his hives. Claims the cinnamon is good for the bees' digestion.
Of course in November it's too early to be thinking protein. That will have to wait until March when the bees are brooding up. My hope is that the bees lugged in a heavy dose of ragweed, goldenrod and aster pollen. And so much more to add to the mix... the rich, wholesome diverse diet I started talking about.
The bees know what they're doing.
|Incoming ragweed pollen|
Just like humans, bees don't always forage on the right thing. (Who doesn't like Pepsi, Doritos, ice cream, etc...?)
Here I caught them on some field corn in July:
Corn pollen has a low protein content and is basically nutritionally devoid.
Why are the bees on it? Well, that's what's available. As I alluded to in the Big Ag post, sometimes corn pollen is about the only thing out there.
I know at least four commercial beekeepers who blame seed treated crops (such as corn) as the root cause of colony collapse. The seed treatment, a systemic pesticide, ends up in the pollen of the plant... the bees carry the pollen back and at some point in the next year it gets fed to the brood.
Is this really to blame for CCD?
I sure don't know, but it gives me something to worry about. As I said in that previous post, a corn field may as well be a parking lot if you're a bee. My fear (as Jim Doan points out) is that we're now talking about pesticide laced parking lots.
Diversity is the key; variety in the diet for bees, humans and about everything else. Randy Oliver (commercial beekeeper and fantastic educator) talks a bit on the subject in this video:
Now that just made me hungry.
Happy eating, everyone! Make sure you keep some color on the plate...