Did your bees die of Colony Collapse Disorder this winter?
Thats the $64,000 question right now. In parts of the U.S. bees are going gangbusters and looking like they are supposed to look in early April ... strong, ready, willing and able. But in the more northern parts of the U.S the season isnt as advanced and the answers arent quite as clear. Of course those colonies that were pushed early for almonds found out how good they were, or werent, so they already know ... and what they know is that it isnt good news again.
But the northern tier of states are just waking up, and the message is mixed regarding winter loss. Certainly there is always winter loss. Just like the perennials in your garden, some dont make it sometimes ... and the why is never known ... they just died. Eager beekeepers were out weeks ago checking on conditions, and feeding if necessary, and medicating if necessary, and hoping if necessary. Right now it looks better than last year.
Except, up in Canada. Thats way north, and its way off the radar screen relative to CCD problems ... or is it?
Last year there wasnt a problem with CCD up there. Thats what they said, even though the colony losses there were as bad, or worse than in much of the U.S.
"Other causes" were blamed. Case closed. End of story. Oh, but the government found enough in their coffers to compensate beekeepers for those losses ... losses that werent CCD losses it seems. But a third of the colonies died last year ... from something.
Experienced beekeepers and some regulators are saying CCD is already in Canada, and that its just a matter of time before its proven. Then some sort of compensation will be discussed.
But just like the U.S., there are other devils being blamed. Those terrible new insecticides ... the neonicotinoids are in the spotlight because of their reported affect on foraging bees ... loss of memory, forgetting to eat, getting lost in the field and not returning home. Sound familiar?
Genetically modified corn pollen, coming from plants raised for the surge in ethanol production nearly everywhere are also being blamed for killing bees ... but the thread for that blame is pretty thin, and didnt work in the U.S. either.
The Canadian Honey Council is on the fence so far; without proof, its tough to place blame anywhere. But already the President of the Council had to resign to take care of all the losses he suffered last year, and hes pointing a finger at the government, which says its not CCD, not here in Canada. Not yet anyway.
Meanwhile, one of the leading researchers here in the states has an answer to the question we posed last time ... What do you do with the dead?
Dennis VanEnglesdorp, the acting State Apiarist for Pennsylvania and one of the most active of the researchers told an audience this past week that if they had colonies die of CCD ... eliminate the equipment, dont reuse it.
All indications are that the sterilization of beekeeping equipment using radiation and acetic acid didnt work last year. So once dirty, always dirty, and never use again.
This is the same treatment beekeepers use for the worst disease we have, or have had up to now, American Foulbrood, a bacterial disease that contaminates equipment for decades. Burning is the only way out.
For CCD, whether in the U.S., Canada, or anywhere else, it looks like that is the only way out. Burn, baby burn.
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