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  1. #1

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    I'll start by repeating what I've been told. An NCSU lab tech spoke at a local meeting, pretty much said he was there because the PHD was in FL for "the meeting". He commented on several things. Cause was unknown! PSU was spearheading efforts. PA beek acknowledged something along the lines of improper treatment of hives (not sure if this was timing or substance related). He also commented about seeing blue shop towels in hives and not knowing what was on them. I'm not sure what everyone else might use blue shop towels for but I only use them for menthol per canuck beek AD or DA website years ago. New Nosema strain mentioned but not detected in US yet.

    I've seen the form on some site that lists the symptoms. It is almost a little vague, not specific enough. Pretty much suggests that what looked like an otherwise healthy hive was not there any more.

    I do not know if it is wrong or right but this presents an excellent marketing opportunity for beeks in several ways. For those trying to raise bees with treatments along a food grade/IPM/organic spectrum it adds value to the product. This would require an openess with ones customers and what would amount to raising suspicions of large beeks methods. It also received so much press that there is good chance of receiving more funding for bee research.

    I think the problem as it stands now is complex and difficult to study. The biggest obstacle of this is getting access to the beeks that are losing hives. They need to open up as to methods, they need to get stuff tested. Considering the legality and food safety issues I'm not sure this will be done. I've seen things!!! The labor required to monitor/study is not available as of yet. Just imagine all the variables to understand this: temps, moisture, drugs, queen source, feed source, nectar/pollen source, contaminant source, pesticides from the crops.

    I've heard complaints about winter losses since I started keeping bees. I frankly expect heavy losses over winter and heavy spliting come spring. For me it is a way of life so I might not notice any changes. Most of my winter loss problems seem to be from poor queen/hive strength due to late splits or starvation.

    So what do I think is important for this? 1.Integrity of the beekeeping community. If there is illegal stuff going on we need to tighten up on this. Perhaps have some mandatory testing. I've heard NC is doing this in some fashion, I'd love to get mine tested. How about you?
    2.Recognize that just as I can keep chickens on a healthier diet, perhaps with less disease, and get more money for my eggs, a smaller beek might better be able to manage and provide in a value added manner.
    3.Get back to the basics for hive management even if some of the basics are new. I expect that rotating or reclaiming comb is going to be more important for this. Have you ever removed a hive from a building that has been there for a while. The bees move off the old wax and constantly make more.
    4.There ought to be a market for disease monitoring services. I'm not sure it would pay the bills, but there is a need for it.

    "Standard TV program disclaimer here"

  2. #2
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    "disease monitoring services"? Do you mean a hive inspection service that checks your hive for you and tells you what diseases and pests you have or don't have?

    Doesn't your state provide such a service? What would you be willing to pay for such a service?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #3
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    I hate to burst your bubble, but we can not even get $.80 cent for our nice white 22mm honey.
    So how do we begin to pay our bills & do what you are proposing to fix this CCD problem?

  4. #4
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    Then why do you keep bees? And who should fix this CCD or any other bee related problem? Uncle Sam to the rescue?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  5. #5
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    I have to agree with Mark. Most agriculture is unprofitable, hard work. While you have my deepest sympathies, I do not see a difference between CCD and all the other blights, illnesses, droughts, epidemics and price fluctuations that have squeezed farmers across the world for millenia.

  6. #6
    NC Beeman Guest

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    Hi Nursebee, The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services provides a disease inspection service for the beekeepers in North Carolina. The bee inspector for your area is Adolphus Leonard. His phone number is 252-830-0275. If you will contact him and schedule an inspection, I'm sure that he'll be more than glad to assist you any way that he can. There is no charge to you for this service.

  7. #7

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    I know Adolphus, though he might not know me. He covers a very large area. He has turned me on to some pollination work. When there was a SHB problem he was the local guy to tell you if you could move hives, where a quarantine was, etc... He is also the guy that would permit me to sell queens and nucs. But my impression is that he is overworked and underpaid. Perhaps not readily available. A government employee, not in the private sector.

    Hence the need for a private well run service. One that knows the science, the healthy vs unhealthy thresholds of disease levels. The microscope in the car to look for tracheal mite. The sticky boards that a large beek might not take the time to use.

    I do not know the solution to CCD. To me it sounds a lot like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia in the human population. We give a name to a vague collection of symptoms, not well understood.

    RSUCHAN, I sympathize with your problems paying the bills (This year I made my first after tax profit of $19 without paying myself a salary). We live in a free market economy, you are free to do something else if you choose. As for me I am keeping my day job and will continue to add value to what I produce so that I get a decent price.

  8. #8
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    Simply stating a fact. Starting my 30th year in this business. I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for us. And no I or my son are not afraid of hard work. That last thing I want is a hand out or more government, aka more inspections. And yes we both have day jobs to the tune of 50 hours a week.
    Let me ask you this question. I have no money to purchase the normal amount of replacement supers this spring. In checking with 2 large suppliers they both tell me that there wood sales have come to a dead halt 90 days ago due to the honey prices & all the dead outs. What do you suppose the price of beekeeping supplies would go to if they large guy throws in the towell & quits??????

  9. #9
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    {For those trying to raise bees with treatments along a food grade/IPM/organic spectrum it adds value to the product.}

    This is only in a very specific, direct resale market and generally only livably profitable in or around large Cities. In difficulot econmic times one will not be able to survive on this small facet of the buying public. Anyone who believes that any large portion of the population buys food on the basis of it being more wholesome over price is kidding themselves. Anyone who believes they can beat history and keep un-natural populations of anything in confined areas without some chemical intervention periodically and succeed on a level to make money are also in fantasy land.

    {And yes we both have day jobs to the tune of 50 hours a week.}

    Like most who are making any profit in this or any other non-corporate farming operation this is a must. After recent exchanges with Mike Palmer it hit me that many in Beekeeping, especially factoring in the intense labor, are keeping 40% or LESS of the gross profits. Next year is always a huge if and one bad season without backup could be a castrophe just like all the dairy farmers in our area who were thriving in 1960 but were broke and out by 1985. What this means is you need to gross 150,00+/yr just to make a 50,000 or 60,000/yr net income. Factor in $1200/mos for family health insurance, retirement and emergency living expense for a bad season and that net really is gross.

    {What do you suppose the price of beekeeping supplies would go to if they large guy throws in the towell & quits??????}

    We live in a global, market driven economy. Our industry changes have been manifesting since market supports were put in place to try and bolster up a dying industry 40+yrs ago. These recent changes (CCD) will continue to require we make the committment to do this on a large scale, dedicating our whole effort to maximizing our efficiency, or operating on the basis of a hobby. The middle sized folks, like every other caste seen in 20th century agriculture, will likely disappear.

    [size="1"][ February 23, 2007, 06:12 PM: Message edited by: Joel ][/size]

  10. #10
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    Private well run services have been proposed and tryed with very limited success. It's hard enough to make a living working bees let alone trying to live off of that industry in a secondary fashion.

    Not a bad idea. I just don't think that it is practical. Otherwise someone would be doing it and I haven't heard of them if they are.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  11. #11
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    Joel if you think you can keep 50-60 K from 150 K of beekeeping gross income you know things that I do not. My margin is no where near that. i need to turn a lot more money to keep that amount.

    Jean-Marc

  12. #12
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    The thoughts regarding Imidacloprid being the culprit are spooky. The market will adjust to the CCD losses. Those that bail out will trigger a price increase, that price trigger will promt increased investment (just like CA almonds). As many have stated, this is agriculture. It's not easy or everyone would be doing it. Personally I have no plans to give up my day job....I'm in it for the joy of beekeeping. The moment it becomes a job, I'll hang it up.

    David

  13. #13
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    >>>I do not know if it is wrong or right but this presents an excellent marketing opportunity for beeks in several ways..... would amount to raising suspicions of large beeks methods.<<<
    A little fear mongering might be good for the pocket book, eh?

    And it seems ambivalence about right or wrong shouldn't stop a little slanderous innuendo.
    >>>biggest obstacle of this is getting access to the beeks that are losing hives. Considering the legality and food safety issues I'm not sure this will be done…..<<<
    I was under the impression that the conditions and practices of many affected operations are being studied. Is this not so?

    Keeping an open mind on the final cause or contributing factors for CCD may not be on the agenda of some who want to point the finger at large operators for having caused their own grief, via poor nutrition, chemical treatments, migrational stresses ect, and oh, by the way, turn a profit on what could develop into a true catastrophe. It is certainly a catastrophe for the beekeepers with the huge losses. Before those so inclined start dancing at the misfortune of commercial operations whose pollination services are a necessity to so many, I hope they will pause and consider the bigger picture. I would suggest that before we mandate unproven solutions, we need to define the problem.

    At this point, to my understanding, it has not been determined that being chemical-free will protect your bees from CCD. I believe some of the effected colonies were not treated. There is some speculation, as David mentioned, that systemic pesticides may be a factor. Untreated bees will die just as dead if they come into contact with these widely used substances.

    Nursebee, you admit to losing a large percentage of your bees annually to poor queens, late splits or starvation, so you are right, you probably won’t see any difference. Big winter losses are your norm. I am glad to say most commercial operators don’t lose a big percentage every year, due perhaps to those suspicious methods referred to. The very novelty of so many suddenly losing so much is the reason CCD is getting the big press coverage it is. This is a big deal.

    We need to consider the impact of widespread honeybee deaths,... beyond the excellent marketing aspects. As beekeepers we know that 1/3 of our food supply comes from pollinating honeybees. What part of this need can the hobbyists and sideliners... nonmigrators... be expected to fill, given current agricultural practices? Like it or not, the migrating pollinator is a mainstay in our agricultural system, and if the losses they’ve seen so far continue, agriculture in this country is in serious trouble.
    We could probably import all the honey this country needs, but I hate to imagine a time in which the only beekeepers in this country will be those importing throw-away colonies from elsewhere to do the big ag pollination duties, because we can't keep our bees alive here.
    The price of honey in localized markets is a poor measure of the importance of bees to our environment, to our economy and to our wellbeing.
    Sheri

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