Something is going on, that is for sure.
I'm not ready to blame the neonics. In any event, big ag will use some sort of chemical controls for weeds & pests and I'd just as soon they didn't go back to using the ones that killed lots of bees outright.
I'm hearing reports from Bee-L of beekeepers with bees adjacent to the ones in the videos in Almonds and the bees are just fine.
I wonder about 1) the intelligence of going to Almonds (and I realize that the livelihood of many depends on Almonds - though to me it is a big gamble), 2) adequate control of mites and viruses ahead of Almonds, 3) adequate nutrition, and what substances (approved or not) that the beekeepers may be using in their hives to control mites and viruses.
Still, I do feel badly that bees are dying, whatever the reason.
Just because the scientists don't seem to be able to find a smoking gun re: the neonics doesn't mean there isn't one. And at the same time, just because popular opinion says the neonics are the problem, doesn't make it necessarily so.
My strategy: avoid neonics, provide decent nutrition a/k/a forage, and control mites and viruses. While we can't ignore issues like AFB and Nosema, I think they are relegated to the back seat in terms of needing control.
Last edited by Andrew Dewey; 04-09-2013 at 08:10 PM.
Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com
there is some serious thought to the idea that bees need moments of broodlessness during various times of the year to break the mites cycle and keep them in check. Wild bees naturally have these broodless breaks twice a year, one time during swarming season when the virgin queen is born and needs to mate and the old queen flies to a new mite-free site to lay from scratch) and in the late fall / winter season when the hive prepares for cold weather. Of course most beekeepers do all they can to prevent swarming from happening in the spring and the almond pollinators artificially ramp up their hive population in the winter in order to hit the ground running in February for Almonds! Not a surprise that mites can crescendo like they do when their habitat is unbroken
we try to go boodless after honey is harvested in Idaho & north dakota. Most operations send bees to ca in oct & nov after the queen shuts down, helps with treatment.
Larry Pender,Jubilee HoneyBee Company,Camarillo, CA
I thought Andrew made a lot of good points as well, though questioning the intelligence of those going to the almonds dosent really address the basic question of why they crash long before the almonds begin blooming. We sent a lot of really good bees out there and got a lot of really, really good bees back and, frankly, our biggest problems recently is what to do with all the bees and how to keep our hives under control. I don't know all the reasons why some beekeepers fare so much better than others but certainly nutrition/forage plays a huge part as does control of mites and the subsequent virus problems. Virtually all our hives are near neonic treated crops, and avoiding them simply isn't possible.