[permaculture] Bee problems; one possible cause

dwoodard at becon.org dwoodard at becon.org
Mon Jun 4 04:22:20 EDT 2007


This is from the soilandhealth yahoogroup.

I have read that the smaller cells are closed off earlier and are easier
for the bees to defend against the mites.

I don't myself completely believe everything this writer says, but I think
there may be something in it.

Doug Woodard
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

*****************

Market Farming

Alex McGregor
Walden Farm

Dear Friends,

I'd like to comment on the information that is going around about the
decline of the honeybee. By the way, this is not just happening here in
the US, its worse in Germany and France.

My husband has been a beekeeper for over 30 years. About 15 years ago, he
went full time and we sale our organic/bio-dynamic honey to many
businesses and families in the S.E. of Tennessee.

Eddie, my husband, attended a workshop in Tucson, Arizona about 4-5 years
ago, to learn about a new method of beekeeping from 3rd generation
beekeepers, Dee and Ed Lusby. This new method is something that 1250
beekeepers have now incorporated in their practice. At the present, none
of these 1250 beekeepers (my husband included) are experiencing collapsed
hive disorder (CHD).

Bee Story:

In 1900, over 100 years ago, "they" decided to commercialize foundation.
Foundation is the sheet of wax the beekeeper uses in the hive, so that the
honeybee doesn't have to take the time to build it. It has a cell imprint
on it. Its in this cell that the bees lay the larvae and store the honey.
The bee that comes out of this cell is relative to the size of the cell.

They decided that "bigger is better" and concluded that if they made the
cell larger on the foundation, they could grow a bigger bee, that makes
more honey, and makes more money for the beekeeper.

The normal cell size for the honeybee is 4.9mm; the cell that is imprinted
on the most used foundation ranges anywhere from 5.2mm to 5.22mm. What
happened in over 100 years of messing with this critical cell size is the
creation of a honeybee that increased in size 20%, but its wings only
increased 10%. During these 100 years, the honeybeeís immunity has been
weakened. The honeybee is being forced to tote more honey to feed the
bigger bees, with wings that are unable to support this now modified big
bee back and forth from the flower to the hive. Along with that, the
honeybee has to deal with all the toxic chemicals the farmers are spraying
on the crops, the pollution we are putting in the air, and also the
antibiotics the beekeepers are using on the bees to kill the two kinds of
mites.

The workshop that is being done by Dee Lusby (Ed has since died) teaches
the beekeeper how to make his own foundation with wax produced from his
bees, that doesn't have any residue of the chemicals that are being used
on bees to fight the mites. YES, the antibiotics used on the hive for the
two mites does leave residue of toxins in the honey, the wax, propolis,
pollen...anything that comes from the harvest the honeybee produces. The
government and chemical companies hid this from the public until Dee and
Ed uncovered the files by accident (and good fortune) back in the 80s.

Speaking to Dee recently, I asked her if she thought the cell
towers/phones had anything to do with the demise of the bees. She assured
me it was due to the state of the bee's immunity: due to being a bigger
bee, the poisons that are being used on crops, GMO crops, and the
antibiotics used on the bees to kill the mites.

Through organic/bio-dynamic methods of using a mist of mineral oil in the
hive, and reducing the size of the honeybee back to a little bee, our bees
are thriving. Our honey is pure and organic; our wax is organic; propolis
is organic, and above all, our bees are thriving. We started out with 5
hives to get our bees to a little bee. After 4-5 years, we now have about
70 of our hives down to the little bee. Eventually, we hope to change all
of our bees to the little bee; but it will take time. We have between
200-300 hives total. You have to take the cell size down a little at a
time, vs. all at once. Since we were using 5.2mm cell size, we didnít have
far to take them down to the smaller 4.9mm cell size.

Now, let's address one thing that isn't being put out at all about CHD.
Those that are experiencing CHD are mostly the "pollinators". There are
many ways to make a living off the honeybee. One of the ways is to move
them all over the country and use them to pollinate crops and orchards.
That means the beekeeper transports the bees to wherever crops need to be
pollinated. They don't care so much about producing honey. They just do
whatever it takes to keep their bees alive so they can get anywhere from
$70.00-$150.00 per hive to pollinate crops. This means that those
pollinators are using every antibiotic the government and chemical
companies are recommending on their honeybees. The mites build up a
resistance to each one and a stronger more toxic antibiotic has to be used
to kill the mites. The bees have to overcome all the major chemicals that
are being used on their hives, crops and orchards; plus deal with the
demoralization that moving the bees on tractor trailer trucks create, all
add to the decline of its immunity.

Are you beginning to see the picture? I can almost guarantee you that the
beekeepers that are experiencing CHD are the pollinators. They have their
bees on foundation that ranges from 5.9mm to on up to the largest. For
them to even consider getting their bees back down to the little bee would
be impossible. It is very difficult to get the queen and all the other
workers and drones to accept this smaller cell size; but it is possible if
you are patient and can make your own foundation. The only way the
pollinator beekeepers can bring their bees back down to the little bee
would for all of them to die out like Dee and Ed Lusby's did back in the
80s. They had around 1,000 hives originally. They lost all but 100 hives
to the mites. They figured they didn't have anything to lose to start
changing the method of how they kept their bees. Its paid off. Deeís bees
are thriving, and the 1250 beekeepers that have changed over to her new
methods are thriving. The biggest threat to these beekeepers is the
erratic weather patterns that the world is experiencing. A lot of folks
donít realize that beekeepers are farmers.

Dadant, one of the major bee supply companies, now offers a 4.9mm
foundation. However, if a beekeeper uses this commercial foundation, he
doesn't know what is in that wax, due to all the poisons that have been in
practice for so many years. Its best to make your own foundation, using
your own wax. To do this, one needs to buy a foundation mill. There use to
be only one man making this mill and he resides in CA. We bought one and
have been making our foundation for the last 4-5 years. Its very labor
intensive. Its something you learn at Dee's workshop. Its something that
is going to help us keep the honeybee from perishing. The really positive
thing about CHD is that it has created an awareness that wasnít there
before; and the demise of the honeybee is being talked about everywhere.








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