Colony Collapse Disorder Hits Close To Home

Ok, I don’t know if it’s exactly “colony collapse disorder” but one of my two beehives died last week and the other one took a beating and is way down.    The state apiarist estimates (tongue twister?) that 70% of the hives in the state will die this year due to the stressful winter…and it was a brutal one.   Not only was the winter rough, the past couple of years have been hard on bee colonies due to drought.

I’m watching my other hive to see how they’re doing.   I’ll probably crack into it again next week and see if they’re reproducing and do whatever I can do to make things a little more comfortable for them.  I didn’t do much supplemental feeding last year, but I’ll probably give them some sugar water to help out.   Hopefully the hive will be able to build itself back up and I’ll be able to split off and rebuild the other one.

It seems like colony collapse disorder and the general plight of the pollinating insects has gotten a lot of mileage on social media and such over the past year or two.   It is good that people are starting to care, but I think sometimes the focus is a little off target.  Yeah, reposting something about how evil Monsanto and pesticides are isn’t a bad thing and there should be discussions about these things, but in the meantime please plant something that benefits pollinators.    Seedum, sage, mints, clover, whatever.

Since seeing my bees die, realizing I have a ton of plants that need pollinators, having a girlfriend into prairie plants and talking with a guy who’s raison d’etre is planting milkweed for the dwindling monarch butterfly populations, the idea of creating better environments for bees (and other important insects) has been on my mind.   I know there’s all kinds of doomsday scenarios thrown around about the demise of the bees (and yeah, they really are that important) but it just feels a little more real as I’m pulling handfuls of dead bees out of my hives.

Also, I have to say it was really cool this winter to look outside on sunny days above freezing and seeing the bees getting out of the hive.   It was good to know that they’re still there.    It sucks that they had to suffer through a colder-than-usual Iowa winter stuffed up inside a wood box in my backyard just to die once everything started the flower and the good times were ready to roll.    See you in Valhalla, little bees.



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