The Winter Solstice came and went this year with less fanfare than that earthly positional event should get, I think. One of my goals in life is to be at Stonehenge for both the Winter and Summer events just because.Colony Collapse Disorder, too, is receiving less public attention than it did a year ago or even in late June. Why? Simply, CCD seems to be affecting fewer beekeepers this season. But some are still getting clobbered. One New York beekeeper I know will end up with about 600 colonies alive out of the 2,000 he moved to Florida earlier this fall.
Just gone, is the symptom he described, which is the easiest to measure. Others in several states are experiencing the same thing ... some again, some for the first time.
The migration of thousands of colonies from everywhere east of California to the almond orchards has begun and right now everyones holding their breath. But to be honest the bees heading to California right now seem to be in pretty good shape because after three years of surprises both beekeepers and growers are really paying attention to colony health. This year bees are being fed lots and lots of good food, treated for both the major and minor pests and diseases and being handled in a kinder, gentler manner. But theres still time for everything to go wrong, again.
Meanwhile the range war between seedless mandarin growers and beekeepers held its first Peacekeeping meeting in California in December. Seedless mandarin growers hate bees that transfer pollen from nearby orange trees to their trees, resulting in ... gosh, seeds. Go figure.
They dont want seeds in their seedless mandarins because the value of seedy mandarins is much less than the value of seedless mandarins. The bees bring pollen from nearby orange trees while on foraging missions. Youd think the growers would have figured that out before they planted them so close together but for a variety of reasons it seems they didnt.
And the beekeepers, are they at fault? Well, bees have been foraging in these citrus groves for years (years before the seedless, now seedy mandarins were planted), building up on good citrus pollen and nectar preparing for the almond blossoms to be and making orange blossom honey for their keepers.
The mandarin growers want the bees gone. Beekeepers, and not surprisingly almond growers, dont. No shots have been fired yet but attorneys have joined the fray so no one knows what will happen next.
Mandarins have been a diversion but CCD is still on the front burner from the honey bee scientists perspective because theyre still waiting for their money. But its moved to a middle burner for beekeepers and almond growers waiting to see.
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