Modern Ag practices contributing to decline in Bees

*Feature Photo: Tending bee hives. (h/t Jack States / Pitchengine Communities_* (Fremont County, Wyo.) - There is no argument that the national Bee Industry is in decline. The causes are many. Last month, Worland Beekeeper Don Bryant and Lander Beekeeper Jack States presented a program in Thermopolis about the challenges facing the industry. "The resources for bee feeding on pollen and nectar are decreasing in leaps and bounds," States said. "Colonies need to be strong enough to produce a reasonable amount of honey and be available to pollinate. But colony strengths are not up to where they need to be." One of the problems facing beekeepers are advances in agriculture that have eliminated unwanted plants. "Roundup ready crops resistant to weeds also eliminate a nectar and honey resource that traditionally have been the main sources of honey," States said. [image: Inline image 1] *Bees in a hive. (h/t Jack States / Pitchengine Communities) * In Riverton, beekeepers Arlie and Christana Colva said it is a constant battle to keep his bees healthy and get them what they need. "We've had a few years of heavy losses and we've had to change our management practices," Christina said. "Bees are a short-lived insect and replacing the queens is necessary at the end of their life cycles," Arlie noted. "We're lucky is we only lose 10 percent, but losses of up to 25 percent are not that uncommon anymore." Keeping the bees fed is always a struggle, which the Colva's said was made more difficult when the grasshopper infestations began locally. "The crops weren't the only things impacted," Christina said. The Colva's began beekeeping in the Arapahoe area in 1943 with my grandparents, Christina said. "Production has been hugely variable, from 70 pounds a hive a year in the last decade to around 30 pounds per hive now." "We have a casino here but I go to work every day, and every day is a gamble," she said. [image: Inline image 2] *Traditionally, local bees have depended on mustard and dandelions, plus alfalfa blooms, to pollinate crops and produce honey. ( h/t Jack States / Pitchengine Communities) * States said his six colonies amount to about five or six pounds of bees. Before wintering his bees, he said he needs to make sure the colonies are parasite and mite free. "In the winter they need enough heat from eating honey to stay alive. They need honey and they need to be mite free. Without that the colony would collapse and die out." Both States and the Colva's set aside enough honey to keep their bees fed over the winter. Additionally, to help his bees weather the winter, States said he uses aroma therapy, "Spearmint or peppermint helps protect the hives and drive away pests," he said. #county10 #news