First Semiload of Westbound Bees and Snow

Today, I saw my first load of commercial bees headed west. That’s almost two months ahead of what’s normal. It’s been a strange year with semi loads of bees trucking toward the Dakotas through mid-summer. Now they’re high tailing it out of there. I’ve never seen this kind of movement. Not sure what it means. And without my commercial contacts, I’ll probably not know. But it just shows how hard it is to get the commercial out of an old commercial beekeeper. Sort of like a propolis stain on a nice white beesuit. 🙂

Looking out my window, I can see snow on Casper mountain about two miles south of here. The county’s webcam shows about 4 to 6 inches at 8000 feet msl. There’s probably more snow coming before the system moves out Saturday. It’s the first real snow of the season. But here, it’s just a third of what’s predicted for the taller mountains to the west. At least 10 to 12 inches, to start with, is predicted there.

The basins will probably get a dusting. But it will be gone at the lower elevations by mid-day tomorrow. And there won’t be any real snow here until the usual Halloween blizzard.

Well, that’s Wyoming for you. Two days ago it was 85 degrees. Not too unusual if you’ve been in Wyoming for awhile. But I suspect those who have travel here for a little hunting adventure, might get more adventure than they had planned.

Winds will be gusting above 65mph in basins and roaring in the back country for the next couple of days. I will expect half again that much wind at my house, probably 85mph. Any back country climbers should have been off the peaks 3 days ago and out below timberline by yesterday. It’s been a season of tragedies in the back country this year. Anyone still above the trees and unprepared for this kind of weather will be there till spring. Hope all goes well now.

-bW

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4 responses to “First Semiload of Westbound Bees and Snow”

  1. Rene says:

    I am becoming interested in having a hobby TBH or two in my back yard. I live in Laramie. I would love to hear your thoughts on this prospect.

    • -bW says:

      Hi Rene

      All things are possible. But not all things are easy.

      For decades, there was a USDA bee lab located at Laramie. It was eventually run by Bill Wilson, a retired and renown bee researcher. Research was focused on American Foulbrood. Laramie was seen as a safe place to work with infected colonies without the possibility of creating any collateral damage.

      It’s just a tough place. Very dry, windy, little to no agriculture or commercial beekeeping, short season and no real sustained native bee forage.

      It’s probably possible to keep a hive or two in Laramie depending on where you are at. Take a look at the Google satellite images for Laramie. If you’re in the green and in the valley, it’s possible.

      If you’re in the brown, you will have to find a place for your bees somewhere in the green. The mountains, although green, are a poor spot for bees. Look for maximum biodiversity. A good source of water, some alfalfa, and good winter protection from the wind.

      Keeping bees in Laramie is like keeping bees in Jackson, the season is so short everything must go right. There’s just not much time for the bees to make corrections.

      Michael Bush once kept bees in Laramie. He might have some good advice: http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

      Honeybees are one option depending upon your interests. Rene, have you thought about wild bees. Sometime they’re a better fit if you are interested more in the bee and pollination than the honey. Check out this link: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sl=de&tl=en&u=http://www.wildbienen.de/index.htm

      Let me know how things go for you.

      -bW

  2. laurie lange says:

    Dennis, don’t see any other way to contact you but here. Was reading your post from a couple years ago about lack of buzz of native bees. I’m developing a native bee habitat site, and noticed the same thing back then. I trapped bees per the mellitologists protocols in 2008 at the habitat site. The next year and since, I’ve seen only a couple of bees. We NEED these guys not only for pollination services but for bee biodiversity!! Wil be launching a specilaty seed business this spring for bee plant seed & nesting materials, i.e. for the natives tho also seed for plants honeybees like. I’m writing about this, looking for other’s comments about seeing less bees, can I quote you?

    Anyone else who’s noticed native bee presence/absence welcome to contact me.

    Laurie, nativepollins @gmail.com

    • -bW says:

      Hi Laurie

      This loss of native bees is distressing to me.

      Unlike the large wild game animals here(which are farmed by the Game and Fish Commission), I’ve always seen wild bees as the ultimate expression of wildness and freedom.

      The thought that I, as a beekeeper, could have introduced or spread anything that is contributing to their decline is so appalling to me, that I would give up beekeeping first.

      But it’s too late for that. The trouble is here and it’s affecting both the honeybee and the native pollinator. So, what to do?

      I think every beekeeper should expand their horizon to include some space for native pollinators. Every garden should have a nesting box for them. They can be small and intrusive, a piece of garden or yard art, or landscaping focus of their own. Check out this Wild Bee site for some great ideas.

      And look at what they are doing in their community! Dedicated and protected wild bee habitat and education!

      Laurie, your call to action is right on. You can quote me for what it’s worth. And send me a link to your site.

      -bW

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