The Observer Magazine ran an article on the crisis in beekeeping yesterday. Suffice it to say, I know most of the arguments and I know that the research desperately needs to be done. There are still no answers to the Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD, although the being stolen by aliens theory has been heavily discounted. CCD has resulted in huge losses for American agriculture as flowering plants depend on the bees to pollinate. Not enough is known about bee disease and the international transfer of bees. For example, Greek queens being sent through the post. Are these bees more or less susceptible to bee disease? Equally, has the big business of moving hives about the country caused part of the problem? If large beekeepers move their hives and feed the bees on corn syrup, are they asking for problems? How much can the bees take? Whatever is happening, it seems like the bees are stating loud and clear that something is drastically wrong. And cutting the funding to reearch is not the answer.
Do I believe the dire predictions about no bees within a decade? I do not even want to think about it, because without bees, human beings have huge food production problems. I just wish the government and their senior civil servants would start taking the concerns seriously.
On a happier note with beekeeping, my two hives seem to be increasing nicely. I suspect there will be a lot of oil seed rape and so I will have to spin the supers earlier than I would normally. Oil seed rape produces lots of honey but it crystallises rapidly. Once it crystallises, the bees have difficulty using it. It is also almost impossible to get out of the comb. Last year, I ended up having to cut the combs and then gently heat to get the honey flowing. Fingers crossed that this year, I do things at an earlier stage.
It would also be great if this summer was normal. With a cold spring, the bees have been building slowly and I worry about having another rainy summer where the bees can not fly for days on end.
And a small plea -- if you have not tried your LOCAL honey -- do. Locally produced honey tastes far different from the honey found in the supermarket. England produces about 10% of the honey it consumes. And yes, I do know that the Third World honey does help to stimulate development, but I still think local honey is something special.