If you are interested in ecology, gardening, or the health of the Earth, you have no doubt head of “Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder”.
We are, Literally, Losing our honey bee population. According to the USDA:
Losses of managed honey bee colonies were 23.1 percent for the 2014-2015 winter but summer losses exceeded winter numbers for the first time, making annual losses for the year 42.1 percent, according to preliminary results of the annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership (http://beeinformed.org), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Apiary Inspectors of America.
While this may not seem all that important to people who don’t understand their importance, Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder is a potentially devastating blow to worldwide food production. According to a Yale University article:
Spread across 800,000 acres, California’s almond orchards typically require 1.6 million domesticated bee colonies to pollinate the flowering trees and produce what has become the state’s largest overseas agricultural export No one knows what is causing the disorder, but the extreme use of pesticides seems to be one of the main issues.
Therefore, backyard beekeeping is becoming more and more important to the protection of food production around the world. Oh, this doesn’t mean that backyard colonies don’t suffer losses. Ruth lost two of her hives last year. But backyard production is one way to ascertain that honeybees are not totally lost to the world.
I picked up Beekeeping for Beginners: The Ultimate Beekeeping 101 Guide by Kevin Hoard on Amazon for free. I had hoped for more in this guide, but was disappointed. This is more as if the “writer” simply pulled pages and paragraphs from other books and pulled them together. Very simplistic, no photos. You can gain better information from various sites on the internet or in person at places such as at your local Beekeepers Association (mine is the Colorado State Beekeepers Association). You can even buy hives and bees online (though buying from local sources is better – both to support local business and so that you can see where your bees come from, the care they get, and you can get replacement bees if you lose the queen or a large number of workers and drones.) You can buy your bee boxes, but a couple of great sites (With pictures! Pictures Good!) can be found at City Boy Hens or at Bees and Beekeeping.
With a beehive or two, a few chickens, a nice garden. What a nice way to live! Well, unless the weather is like it is here… which means my garden is a nonstarter… but hey, maybe things will get better soon on the weather front?