BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Beekeeper's Lament

Important Links:
Video: Ted Talks: Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing
Center for Food Safety: Pesticides to Avoid by Brand Name 

Free Brochures by The Xerces Society: 
Bumble Bee Conservation. Download PDF
Farming for Pollinators. Download PDF
Farming for Pest Management. Download PDF 

Neonicotinoids in Your Garden.Download PDF
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I am attending a class at the University of Southern Maine for beekeepers this winter 2014 as I hope to qualify as a Master Beekeeper in July at the Eastern Apicultural Society's annual meeting in Kentucky.

This is a certification with no national standards but secured by both a verbal and written test that I think should only be given to beekeepers who have done it all; however, not all of us, even after six years, have had the opportunity to do it all, despite our knowledge and love of beekeeping.

It does help to have some credentials that reflect a worthy effort in order to act as an advocate for the bees in our own communities with the environmental dilemma currently facing our furry little miracle insect friends.

Tipped over by a small bear, the bees continued
coming and going for two days
as if nothing had happened.
I've been quite depressed over the contamination issues honeybees are suffering from. I've lost hives. I wonder who in my own farming community might be using coated seeds, chemical fertilizers and the like. Information like this seems to be held close to the vest and what conversations I've tried to start seem to provoke a defensiveness in the farmer or gardener. This so surprised me.

I got into beekeeping for the honey and the joy, escaping the working day stresses of life, in 2008, just when things began to fall apart in apiaries across the U.S. Poor timing.

I've never seen a robust honey harvest. I've never had a colony large and strong enough to think I could successfully split it. I have not heard of anyone around me splitting colonies in the spring 'like they used to' said one veteran beekeeping friend.

So my instructor at USM is determined to teach the beekeepers of Maine how to get the most out of their hives and how to raise them local and healthy. I am so energized when I leave this class to drive the two hours back home I can't sleep for excitement once I get there, and I can't wait until spring.

If we can keep honeybees alive for even another decade, I will be truly amazed at humankind's ability to fix such things. It seems too late. Our growing-soil quality around the world is so contaminated by the things that kill bees. Agricultural chemicals are so widespread and protected in their use. We are now being told these neonicotinoid chemicals do not deteriorate with time, so far as we know, now 15 years into their use. Too late.

One of my girls on our sedum.
We humans are odd creatures - fully astounded by our planet, yet intent on trying to out do it's natural offerings toward our health and happiness on every single level. However, we care enough to question the results. It is in the news in print, on the air, and all over YouTube. I over-hear a conversation about bees almost everywhere I go while out running errands. Can we fix this? I don't know.

I take comfort in being a beekeeper. I am a witness to these amazing, self-sustaining creatures. They have been going about their existence since before recorded history, and will continue as long as there is the slightest chance of survival, despite us and all we do to wreck havoc on their world.

Wikipedia has an excellent, detailed explaination and report of all things related to:

Favorite Quote by Cat, ( a Colorado beekeeper gone native in my grandmother's home country of Turkey:

“The thing I love most about bees is that, above all else, they are a creature of stories; small stories, about food, pollen and nectar, big stories, about threats to the hive, mating, and moving. They communicate in all sorts of ways, with dancing, pheromones, antenna touches, and smells. Likewise, sharing our own stories builds our communities and gives our lives purpose. They help us forge connections with the ones we love, build us into who we are, and direct us towards what we know we can become.”

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