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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    Default The Last Beekeeper

    Last night, I watched the documentary The Last Beekeeper. Has anyone else seen it? Joe talks a bit about it in his current newsletter. It's a sobering glimpse into commercial beekeeping. So much hinges on the once a year almond pollination for these guys. I could feel their desperation when they go to inspect the bees after trucking them out there and find so many dead outs. I noticed as one of the beekeepers opened a hive lid, for a brief moment, a blue shop towel was seen on the top bars. This seems to be common practice. Adee was caught doing it and it was pointed out in the PBS documentary on CCD with Hackenberg. How do the commercial beekeepers here feel about other commercial guys who have significant losses when they get out to the almonds? Do you feel this could happen to you? Do you look at this and say to yourself it won't happen to me because . . . .? Given that there is mounting evidence that chemical/drug usage is certainly a contributing factor in the demise of these dead outs, what are you doing in response to that?

    I feel sorry for those that end up at the end of the line with crashing hives. At that point, you can no longer afford to make small changes for the long run.
    Regards, Barry

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
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    639

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    I watched it when it first aired and I recommended it to beekeeping and non-beekeeping friends alike! A great view into the struggles of commercial beekeeping...

    Do we know any of the folks who were in it?

    Matt

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,551

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Barry I saw this docu and thought it would be a good one to show to "pie in the sky wanna be commercial" newbees, as it shows what can happen with your sizable investment.
    That said, while I have heartfelt sympathy for those beeks that lost so much in the movie, nothing shown convinces me that the crashing colonies are the result of anything other than the usual suspects,: ie mites, starvation, and/or Nosema C. It is lacking in any scientific analysis of what actually caused the collapses. Although they touched on mites, they don't ask anyone what their mite counts were or if they treated for them? Did they do Nosema C spore counts? If so, were they high? Again, did they do anything to alleviate them if they were? Again, we have the CCD boogieman being brought out to scare us, but is this CCD? The movie implies but does not eliminate other, more likely IMO, causes.

    I don't agree it is a "given" that chemical/drug usage is "certainly a contributing factor". The use of some degree of chemical treatments for disease control is so common that it could very well be coincidental that past drug usage is present when some "CCD" occurs. Making the jump to causality may be like determining that human cancer is caused by going to the dentist.
    I think the science is showing that there is most likely a combination of factors that come together to express the symptoms commonly referred to as CCD, with IPV showing itself to either be the ultimate culprit or the straw that broke the camels back. <edited to add that IAPV might also be coincidental>. Nosema C is a vector for introduction of numerous viruses, as are Varroa. Perhaps good control of these combined with good nutrition will prevent "CCD". Until they can duplicate the disease it is impossible to determine exactly what causes it.

    Speaking for our operation, we will continue to do what we have always done; that is deal with the ever changing conditions that imported pests and nature throw at us. We do what is under our control and hope there really is no unknown boogieman, and if there is, he stays far away from us and ours.
    Sure, we worry if there is some yet undiagnosed "killer" out there and we may be next. I would certainly sleep better if they said "XYZ causes CCD and efg eliminates it", but until that happens we will keep our bees as healthy and well nourished as we can with the science we have at our disposal.
    Sheri
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 12-08-2009 at 01:04 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,432

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Sheri -

    I'm trying not to get into the CCD thing since it is still a moving target. The "usual suspects" as you say, are things you have to deal with as well. Do you really feel there is such a difference between what you do and what most other beekeepers do to take care of their bees? I guess I didn't get the sense, especially from Nicole Uribarri, that they were newbees or had any "pie-in-the-sky" mindset. In fact, the Uribarri's had been in commercial beekeeping for quite a long time. I'm not wanting to pick on anyone, simply trying to get an understanding on how different commercial beekeepers view their own practices and if they look at other guys who crash and say "this is why it happened to them" or simply cross their fingers and hope it doesn't happen to them.
    Regards, Barry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    oneida ny usa
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Barry, I dont think you are taking sheri's words correctly. I think sheri meant this shows what can happen and it should be shown to people with the rose colored glasses and not so much the people in the tv show not knowing what they are doing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lunenburg,N.S. Canada
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    280

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Is there somewhere a guy can find this video? I don't get all the channels like I used to and can't seem to find out where and when it will be on.

    Perry

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,432

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    If I did, I'm sorry and Sheri better set me straight.

    Here is what Maryann Frazier had to say:

    "When you try to introduce a chemical to control a mite, what is the potential of having an impact on the bee? The materials that we have used, we in our work, have seen a build up of these chemicals in the wax and consequently in the food like the pollen that the bees are bringing in, to feed their baby bees. In addition, the bees, particulary in the migratory beekeeping operations, are going around to all these agricultural crops and they're in the process of bringing nectar and pollen in to the hive, are also bringing many other pesticides into the hive, including fungicides some herbicides and a lot of insecticides. So yes, what we're seeing in the hive is a toxic cocktail. This is an incredible amount of stress on a system, one of our biological systems, and now what we fear that we're seeing is a "straw that breaks the camel's back" kind of scenario."
    Regards, Barry

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,432

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    Speaking for our operation, we will continue to do what we have always done; that is deal with the ever changing conditions that imported pests and nature throw at us. We do what is under our control and hope there really is no unknown boogieman, and if there is, he stays far away from us and ours.
    Don't you think all other commercial beekeepers think the same thing? I know two of the highlighted beekeepers in the video made comments that they had done everything to keep the bees alive and healthy. One of them even talked about how his bees were more important to him than a relationship with his partner/mate! He was fairing real good throughout the movie, but the closing statements said he lost a sizable amount of hives by the time the bloom was over.

    Sure sounds like a high stakes deal with a lot of finger crossing.
    Regards, Barry

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,551

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    OK Barry, here's to setting you straight, Michael-bee is correct. I wasn't referring to Nichole or anyone on the video as a newbee. What I meant is simply that those wanting to get into commercial beekeeping should see the film, agreeing with your assessment that it is, as you put it, "a sobering glimpse into commercial beekeeping". Those wanting to get into the business should keep in mind that in commercial beekeeping, as in any business, there is a risk of losing much or everything.
    I agree we don't do things much different that most beekeepers and sometimes it comes down to being lucky to get something done in a timely manner. Going to a warm climate saves many beeks who run short of time. A couple years ago before Nos C was clearly understood we had a near disaster because we were not on top of fairly high Nos C infections in our colonies. Being in CA, we were lucky we discovered this in time. If we had left them in Wisconsin to overwinter you might have heard about our CCD losses. Likewise, many beeks I know this year were late getting treatment on due to hoping for a fall honey flow which never came and then the weather turned too cold to treat OR feed. If I treat late for mites or Nos C I might control them now but the "winter bees" are already impacted. Those bees are weakened already going into winter. Their life expectancy is shortened. I think this year the poor honey crops much of the country had to deal with will be reflected by poorer honeybee health and a larger winter loss than normal. Any of these and a dozen other culprits can catch the most experienced beek. Given the right circumstances any of us can flounder. Being lucky enough to pick the bees up right before someone sprays without letting you know can make all the difference. Knowing where to prioritize in crisis can make or break an operation. Knowing when to regroup and take a smaller loss and still be able to rebuild can make or break an operation. It often just comes down to luck.
    So, yes, most of the time, given the facts, you can look at others' losses and say "this is why it happened". In the vast majority of time they know themselves. I know operations where they lost 50% to mites. These beekeepers know about mites and know how to treat, they for some reason or another just didn't get it done. Time is usually our worst enemy. They knew what caused their losses. There are some cases you hear about where they don't have an easy answer and these are the ones that are scary.
    We do not "cross our fingers" and hope for the best. It is just animal husbandry, after all. We deal with the problems of known pathogens and pests the best we know how. We keep our "stock" as well nourished and healthy as we can. If we have a problem we try to limit losses with the goal to rebuilding. I am not saying we are super beekeepers, we may be the next ones you read about, we just try do the best with what we know.
    Sheri

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,551

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    You know, beekeeping probably isn't any more risky than other farming and maybe not most other businesses. People take their capital and experience and apply them as well as they know how. Of course we beekeepers think about the risk, we'd be crazy not to. We limit it the best we can and try to make sure the potential gain balances that risk. It is not poker it is business as usual for the self employed.
    Sheri

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Finally someone else read that ARS report where they said there was a high occurence of IAPV in CCD (like 90+%.) Kudos sheri.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
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    3,173

    Big Grin Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    .
    I agree we don't do things much different that most beekeepers and sometimes it comes down to being lucky to get something done in a timely manner. Being lucky enough to pick the bees up right before someone sprays without letting you know can make all the difference. It often just comes down to luck.
    Sheri
    I ah... Lucky,lucky,luck..... I don't think luck has much to do with this.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,551

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Jarrett View Post
    I don't think luck has much to do with this.
    Keith, I am trying to be diplomatic here
    Sheri

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
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    3,173

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    OK Sheri, I'll take my spot back underneath the bus.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,081

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    In the case ofr the woman whose father had died and she took over the business, does anyone else think that it would have been prudent to look into those hives before they were shipped to CA? I hope that doesn't seem too critical. Hind sight is 20/20. And it's easier to see what someone else should have done. But that was one of my thoughts.

    I really liked the attitude and pov of the old fellow who was her friend. He had lived through hard times and knows how to get through and get along w/ whatever life troughs at him.

    I like Sheris' comments and agree w/ them. One has to do what one can and be able to let the uncontrolable take care of itself.

    I'd like to see it again and I'd like to see a follow up on the beekeepers and the problems that they faced. i undersatand that the young woman sold out and her Mom moved to somewhere warmer. What about the other beekeepers?

    I said this before when we first discussede this, why did that guy get back in the truck and answer the phone when he didn't want to face his wife anyway. Are they still married? After his actions I have to wonder.

    Keith, what are you doin' under that bus? Fixing the muffler? I hate it when you and Sheri argue. NOT.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,551

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    it would have been prudent to look into those hives before they were shipped to CA?
    Yeah, might have been prudent but that is one of the problems with shipping from a northern clime and why so many ship early to CA or ship to somewhere warm first then ship into CA at the bloom. You hate to open them up right before shipping when it's really cold.
    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    I hate it when you and Sheri argue. NOT.
    Argue? Shoot, I hope he is saving me a spot under the bus just in case.
    Sheri

  17. #17

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    That was depressing about the 2k hives. Did they starve out or what? I watched it at work on mute reading captions, so I missed some of it. It is very hard for me to imagine having 80% losses without me being at fault. I mean unless they're on top of a cotton bloom that gets sprayed...

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
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    3,173

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Skinner Apiaries View Post
    . It is very hard for me to imagine having 80% losses without me being at fault. I mean unless they're on top of a cotton bloom that gets sprayed...
    Very well Honestly said.


    P.S. cotton bloom....One woundn't think they would just spray water.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  19. #19

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    lol. If we all had it so nice like in Kalifornia. Can you even spray roundup there?
    Anyone else here 'really' think people coincidentally lose alot of bees due to pesticide?
    Last edited by Skinner Apiaries; 12-08-2009 at 06:35 PM. Reason: I got off topic. Dont really want to get deleted.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tulare County, CA USA
    Posts
    1,380

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Ah yes... Spray...
    Farmers spray in much the same way that we treat for mites/disease... Some is on record/up front, some not so much. I lost some this year and took a big hit on some that survived at the hands of a family member/neighbor and all I got was a "I forgot you had them"... Hard to get to mad when we do it as well.

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