Memphis Backyard Farmer


Bee Informed
March 17, 2011, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Bee Keeping

My bread and butter crop is honey. I’ve been a hobby bee keeper for about 15 years, and each year we produce enough supply to support our “habit”. Although I haven’t had any wide-spread losses due to collony collapse disorder (CCD), I lose a hive or so a year due to small hive beetles or weak colonies that don’t make it through the winter.

Over-wintering is tricky. For instance, this year I went into the winter with three very strong hives and one weak hive. The weak hive was a nuc of Italian bees I started last summer, and the three strong hives were Russian colonies, which generally over-winter well. As I’ve checked them through the winter they all seemed to be doing well. However, on my last trip a few weeks ago, the Italian colony was doing really well, whereas one of my Russian colonies was very weak. I’m still not sure if it’s going to make it.

So I’m excited about a new project for bee keepers by extension.org that measures winter losses and will try to answer the question “Why?”. Why do losses occur in some fields and not others? Here’s a clip from the press release from the “Catch The Buzz” newsletter (a great resource, by the way):

“This project will adapt the tools developed by human epidemiologists to study complex human diseases (such as cancer or heart disease) to study honey bee colony health. However, this project will be slightly different than traditional “community health” initiatives in a couple of important ways:

  1. Its focus will be to identify management practices than keep colonies alive (rather than just looking for factors that increase the risk of mortality)
  2. Findings will be shared rapidly, transparently, and in ways that will enable beekeepers to make informed individualized decisions

At its core, the Bee Informed Partnership is motivated by the conviction that beekeepers, when presented with beekeeper-derived data that objectively shows which management practices worked and which did not, will adopt the more successful practices. This, in turn, will reduce colony losses.”

If you’re a bee keeper interested in the project, you can sign up using this link. UPDATE (3/18/2011): This morning I’ve been alerted that the web site for enlisting in the study was not quite ready for production and had to be taken down. I’ll repost this link when it becomes available.

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2 Comments so far
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Just wanted you to know the project launched on April 1, so the web site and surveys are now ready!

Comment by James Wilkes

Thanks, James!

Comment by memphisbackyardfarmer




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