So, What Will I Do?

The fruit tree bloom is over with. The dandelions are mostly done blooming. There’s a plethora of caragana, lilac, and honeysuckle bloom. And yellow sweet clover is just beginning to color the landscape. But guess what? Here’s what I’ve seen so far in the way of bees:

  • 4 honeybees
  • 0 mason bees
  • 1 bumblebee more than 30 miles from the nearest beeyard
  • 3 wasps
  • a dozen flies
  • a half dozen small pollinators on some spirea

That’s it! As a result, I haven’t set out any swarm traps. And my beekeeping plans are in tatters. No bees for this year. And that’s probably a good thing. After reading Randy Oliver’s Sick Bees Conclusion, it make take awhile before beekeeping is routinely possible here.

As these viruses impact both honeybees and wild pollinators, I’m going to wait until I see the wild bee population begin to recover before filling those empty bee boxes.

I haven’t seen any bees, but what I have seen are truckload after truckload of singles headed for the Dakotas. I’ve never seen bees coming through so late in the season. It’s an ominous sign knowing that all those singles were probably deadouts that have recently been filled with splits.

Are they baby colonies headed for maturity in a nutrition paradise? Will they live long and prosper, providing for those beekeeping families and our national food supply? I sure hope so!

But there’s another possibility, a dark one. Maybe those trucks are diesel propelled virus reservoirs, spreading death and destruction throughout what’s left of the natural world. And in the process bankrupting those beekeeping families and endangering our national food supply? I sure hope not!

The truth is probably somewhere in between the two.

What a mess humanity has gotten itself into! Our consumptive ways, combined with population pressures, have put our food and water sources in jeopardy.

Is there enough time and space remaining to go natural, not just with bees, but with humanity itself? I suspect that if we don’t soon learn to fit it with the rest of nature, we simply won’t fit in. Life will continue. It will fill the void that we left. And the age of homo sapiens, as we know it, will be over.


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15 responses to “So, What Will I Do?”

  1. Kevin says:

    I will have to respectfully disagree with Randy. This is not a dark post. It is realistic.

    However it is not a reason to give up on bees either. For anyone why has experienced disaster I would counsel to start over small, in your own backyard where you can keep an eye on things. And see what happens.

    Isn’t that pretty much what life is about? Experimenting and going with what works?


    • -bW says:

      Hi Kevin

      I have to a-bWit, after Randy’s comment, I thought I should have ordered a dozen bee packages. An hour later, at about 10 in the morning, I saw the spray planes going after the mosquitoes, in the irrigated area where my beeyard is located. Had I gone the package bee route, they would have got their first taste of Malathion. And I would have been out about $1000.

      Randy is right in locations with lots of options. But beekeeping here is marginal at best. I think I’ll try your small, monitored approach when I see the native bees recovering.


  2. Natalee Thompson says:

    Keep on, keeping on Dennis. Go to this blog.
    It will inspire you. The passion, beauty and insight will rev your engine.

  3. I have just discovered your site. We have growing chemical free out here in the midwest and I have hives. Five now actually. I have a few questions as it seems you guys know what you are doing. I was trolling about looking for advice about hives in the heat. It is 100 degrees today. I prop the lids up and they build comb in there, what should I do about that.? And should I be feeding extra sugar water to the weaker hives that I do not expect to lift honey from anyway esp in this heat. We have a lot of flowers around here at the moment. Looking forward to your reply.

    • -bW says:

      Hi Cecilia

      Wow! What a place you have. And chickens, peaches and that corn! My wife insists we retire in a location where she can raise them. Just got my Murray McMurry Catalog. Haven’t seen one in several decades. I’m enjoying it again.

      Anyway to the bees. I wouldn’t prop up the lids on your Lang hives. If the bees on a populous hive need ventilation, just stagger a couple of supers, front to back, about half an inch. Watch for any signs of robbing. And close them back up if robbing is seen. Don’t stagger a weak hive as they can’t defend themselves.

      When it gets too hot, many plants shut down their nectar production. Flight activity will decrease. And lots of bees will just hang out or beard near the hive’s entrance. Usually, the bees will have enough stores to carry them through.

      The bees can sense how much food is in the hive. When it goes below a critical level, they will decrease and then stop brood rearing. A bit lower and they will cannibalize drone brood. A little less, and they will cannibalize worker brood. Then they go into a torpid like survival mode.

      For my bees and climate, I never go below the equivalent of three deep frames of honey and pollen. For a small five frame nuc, one deep frame will do.

      So, check the broodnest. Are there enough reserves? Any sealed drone cells present? Are they freely raising brood? Is there nectar/diluted honey near the brood. If so, they’re OK.

      If not, then feeding might be needed. Syrup will work. Its a fast way to feed desperate bees. But I prefer a solid food rather than syrup if the bees aren’t desperate. It gives them something to do. Doesn’t excessively stimulate brood rearing. Can be kept in the hive without loss due to fermentation, etc. The bees will abandon it when nectar becomes available and can use it again when they need it.

      Granulated sugar, which I think is too coarse for the bees, will be hauled out as trash when nectar sources resume. Bakers sugar, which is a finer grind of granulated sugar, works great. It’s not hauled out like regular sugar is.

      Thanks for your blog Cecilia. It brings out the homesteading urge in me.


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