Bees are in the news. It seems almost weekly someone is sending me an article they clipped or mentioning some bee related thing they saw on the news. I was flipping through the latest National Geographic, and here they are again.
Most the the spotlighting of bees involves some insight into why bees are struggling. Sometimes it's rational and scientific, other times the tone of the article has a hint of panic and hysteria. They're all fun to read. Thanks for sharing!
Of course it's pollination that makes the news-- the incredibly important role honeybees play in food production and the risk of losing this. Yes, bees are awesome in and of themselves... but so are Monarch butterflies. Crop pollination is why we need bees. And beekeepers, I might add. Let's face it, we can live without honey. (I know... what kind of life is that?) But things would be a little tough without bees pollinating about a third of the world's food supply. And as I've ranted before, it's the good part of our diets-- the fruits, nuts, veggies.
I'll quote from the National Geographic article: "When you watch bees single-mindedly labor to make honey, it's hard to believe that their greatest role in nature is something they are entirely unaware of: distributing pollen."
Spreading pollen around. That's what bees do. On the side, of course, we hope they make a little honey.
We're all done with apple pollination for the year, and I'm now in the process of prepping hives for pumpkins and vine crops.
Prepping hives is where the time is. Days in advance the bees need checked. Maybe fed, maybe treated, maybe boosted with more bees or brood. Every hive is different. And they all should be reasonably strong. We want the girls to to their job. And we want to keep that contract!
The actual getting bees to where they need to go-- that's mostly done at night. Pollinators work the graveyard shift.
I've got a few pictures from this year's apple pollination. But nothing very photogenic. I don't think I was ever in an orchard during the day. This is what your average contract pollinator working schlep sees:
And much of this:
Windows rolled down, caffeine on the seat beside me, radio loud and far from the NPR frequencies... It never fails, I always catch a particular Warren Zevon song, and suddenly two in the morning has some justification. Some conviction!
Some nights, if time permits, a pollination work break is in order:
And I roll on home bleary eyed, ready for bed, and strangely craving a big dish of beef chow mein.
Two or three days later, the supers go on. In this particular yard just north of Laurelville the bees will be making tulip poplar honey. Quite the contrast from the apple nectar they were just on days before.
Delinda and Micah Tonelotti are the land owners here. They are not only providing my bees with a place to produce honey, they're beekeepers themselves! I was able to deliver a couple nucs as part of the "honey rent" for the year.
A few reasons I love apple pollination- (Aside from doing good in the world.)
Number one, the money. Yes, the money. I mean, we're not purely altruistic at Honeyrun Farm. Well, maybe Jayne is...
Number two, the bees seem to flourish. Pollination does have some troubles, sprays and stresses, but in the apples the bees don't seem to miss a beat. Years like this one, when it's calm and hot, the bees can even make a few frames of apple honey.
They almost always gain weight, no matter what the weather does.
And third, you get the bees back. That is, in time to make more honey (Unlike pumpkin pollination.)
They come out of the orchards and start right in on the black locust:
And the honeysuckle:
Or the tulip poplar, as I talked about above-- Delinda's yard north of the Hocking Hills.
And speaking of the Hocking Hills, we just got back from a great trip.
Here's how it happened. Our friends, the Taglias, wanted a bee yard at their place this year.
These bees found a home right out of the orchards:
Well, it was probably more that I was interested in their very great location full of locust and honeysuckle. Anyway, the Taglias happen to own a few cabins in the heart of the Hocking Hills. Big Pine Retreat- check it out! This last weekend we did:
I was happy to get away and celebrate another successful season of apple pollination.
Everyone was celebrating something.
Baby got in a few strides.
Mostly aboard Daddy.
Nothing goes better with hiking than ice cream.
|Nasty Hocking Hills ice cream!|
The rain soon cleared, making a foggy, magical morning for hiking.
My idea of Sunday morning worship:
We made a few attempts at a family portrait in this natural beauty. This is the best we could do.
Ah, the limits of iphones.