This year we focused on making sure the honey bees were able to thrive. We relocated our hives to a new spot closer to our trial grounds and near a wind block. Close by is our compost pile, where numerous volunteer plants sprouted, and we deliberately planted the Wildflower Eastern Pollinator Mix next to the hives. Along with our trial gardens of flowers and vegetables, the bees had a bountiful buffet to feast on.
We made sure to check for pests diligently as well. Hive beetles and Varroa mites are two common problems for apiarists. We are currently practicing chemical free treatments to combat these problems. Installing vegetable oil traps for the hive beetles helps the bees push them up and into the trap, which drowns the nuisances. Tapping powdered sugar over the hives and onto the bees is like making it rain candy. Not only do they love the taste, but it makes the bees clean themselves. We are then able to catch the mites on a mite board and perform a 24 hour check to evaluate the severity of the infestation. Luckily, we have had minimal pest issues and have stayed well ahead of the problems to remain chemical free!
The populations of the bees have been in decline since middle of the 20th century with many possible contributing factors, including: the presence of Varroa mites, the diseases spread by Varroa mites, forage and habitat degradation, and pesticide exposure. We all need to “bee” conscious when it comes to sustaining honey bee populations. Everyone can do their part, whether purchasing from local farms who implement sustainable practices, purchasing organic produce, or perhaps becoming an amateur beekeeper yourself. As a consumer, you have the purchasing power to promote and grow bee-safe practices. The more efforts made toward supporting sustainable growers and practices, the more we will be able to help ensure the survival of our most valued, natural worker. The work of the honey bee is never finished and neither should our commitment to ensuring their future existence.
Daniel Eggert is the Organic Brand Manager at Harris Seeds. He oversees the organic division which includes expanding the product line, contacting growers to ensure their success, helping with trial varieties, and expanding the brand presence within the organic community. Daniel is passionate about sustainability, becoming self-sufficient, and studying permaculture/biodynamic practices. He loves working at Harris Seeds and helping growers achieve success.