-Posted by Isaac
Well, the results are in. Not only from our little corn planting experiment, but the USDA winter loss report made the press this week. First, a little on that... 23.2%
Wow. Now I really feel like a crappy beekeeper. We lost 65% of ours. Jim lost 67% of his. I've talked to two commercial beekeepers in northern Ohio, each with close to 1000 hives. 75% and 79% loss. (And these guys are generational. As in, they know what they're doing.)
Where is this 23.2% coming from? (Well, it says where it's coming from, right on the above website. 7,200 self reporting beekeepers. It's just really hard for me to believe. Especially after the worst winter in recent memory.)
The bee magazines are reporting higher:
|Only two regions were lower then 23.2%... these regions were not in the corn belt.|
I don't know. It leaves some of us scratching our heads. And many of us thinking these figures are either skewed somehow or completely bogus.
Oh well, enough of that.
The corn planting:
|You can barely make out the planter in the background|
The results were favorable. No dead bees. Well, just a few. But nothing like we saw before. To catch you up, what we tried here was a different seed surfactant. This was a waxy substance, not graphite, not talc, put in the planter boxes to try and control the planter dust problem. Sorry I didn't get a picture... it's in a tractor pulling a planter at the moment. The product is produced by Bayer CropScience. And so is the seed treatment, a systemic insecticide. The thinking is that the dust behind the planter is carrying a little of the seed treatment in the wind. This causes a real problem for bees... as we saw a few weeks ago.
I was working a yard not far away when Adam called.
The big sprayer in the adjacent field gave me some company. And more than a few worries.
Adam had been planting corn for an hour or so when I got there.
Very few bees seemed adversely affected.
A day later:
Still nowhere close to the death we saw before.
Hooray! It worked!
Well... not so fast. There are many different variables to contend with, and this was just one small trial, an extremely small data set. (Don'tcha just love science, Rachel Scior?)
But I am happy that we didn't see piles of bees and I'll willingly praise Bayer for something in the right direction.
This all happened after I got mad enough to fire off a snotty little email to Bee Culture Magazine. What provoked me was an article about the "great" things Bayer is doing for bee health.
It's all lip service! I did some research. I made some calls. The result... I got really angry. I'll share this with you in the next post. (Why stop the rant when I'm on such a roll?)
Thank you to so many who have shared your thoughts and feelings on this chemical issue. You feel marginalized. You feel ignored. And mostly you feel like the environment is becoming spoiled at the hands a few companies. With the government's blessing! I think I'm joining your camp.
Adam found this article in a farm magazine:
He was not ready to rejoice that our little experiment turned out favorably.
As I said... many variables:
And the real issue:
Although the initial bee kill is striking and grabs the attention, this is not the real worry. The problem is what is coming into the hive? What is out there, year after year, pervasive and insidious.
And back to the little complaint I started out with:
Mark Twain may help us ferret this one out.
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."