Beekeepers with colonies suffering from symptoms of Colony Collapse Disorder still keep showing up. They did everything right this summer: they made healthy splits; they fed, medicated and sheltered. But the splits didnt build up like they should, and the parents just dwindled and died. So now, these beekeepers dont have the parent colonies and they dont have the splits and they are just flat out of bees, and luck.
The scientists who are chasing this have the dual problems of 1. not knowing these beekeepers are having a problem if nobody tells them, and 2. not being able to do anything even if they did know. That's because theres no money to be had. The beekeepers need help, and the scientists need help, and congress takes a break from the farm bill for the holidays. The farm bill is where the money is that has been promised ... or at least suggested. Or at least some of the money.
Meanwhile, bees keep getting pushed. Beekeepers who are having the problem need to get more from those bees they have left, and theres more to do because theres fewer bees. Its a vicious circle that the bees wont ever win.
So what do we do? We figure out better ways to make our bees work harder, thats what we do. ... Recall that saying from one of the chemical companies several years ago, "Better living through chemistry." Well, we have it in the beehive, thats for sure.
Harder Working Bees, Through Chemistry
We have a slow release man-made honey bee pheromone dispenser that we can put in a hive to fool the bees into thinking they have a queen. Thats good for the beekeeper because the bees dont do what bees should do if they dont have a queen and raise a new one. It keeps bees calm, it makes it easier to install a new queen, and if we leave it in it enhances the new queens pheromones when we finally get around to giving them one. Weve fooled the colony. Thats OK, isnt it?
Weve got a man made swarm lure chemical that we use as bait to capture swarms. We put it in a swarm lure hive that we made to fool bees into thinking this is a good place to be when the scouts for the swarm find the swarm lure hive. Once them move in we capture them and put them in our hives, so we can work them, too. Thats OK, right?
Then theres that new synthetic pheromone that makes bees think theres lots and lots of brood in a colony, and because of that they should forage lots and lots more. We fool them into collecting more pollen than they need. We encourage younger bees to start foraging at an earlier age. And we convince existing foragers that they should be collecting pollen instead of nectar. They dont care, do they?
We have more kinds of synthetic and man made honey bee food than you can imagine. None of them, of course, are honey or pollen. We have what we call Pollen Substitutes, those man made feeds that approximate the dietary requirements bees have, and taste good from a honey bees perspective, to boot. Theres lots of these feeds available on the market ... some made from soybeans, some from cows milk, some from dried eggs ... all are great for honey bees ... I mean protein is protein, right? And enzymes are enzymes, and minerals are minerals. At least were not feeding dead honey bees back to the colony like the dairy and the chicken people do. Yet.
And we have carbohydrate substitutes, too. We feed high fructose corn syrup...of course every organism on the planet has a steady diet of that stuff. We feed glucose, and we feed sucrose and we feed blends of some or all of these. Corn, thats OK for bees, isnt it?
Maybe, if bees had regular food, theyd be better off. Or maybe, if we didnt work them out of season and they could eat what they could find theyd be better off. But sometimes they cant find food. Sometimes theres drought, or flood, or fire, or mowing, or parking lots or highways ... what then? What do you tell a hungry honey bee?
My only question is ... why isnt there an all-in-one Purina Honey Bee Chow, so we dont have to make up all this stuff?
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