Coining the term “colony collapse disorder” or CCD has created a huge public relations opportunity for those interested in the future welfare of the honey bee. The hyper-sensationalizing of the idea that honey bees are becoming extinct and without them the human food supply is jeopardized, has aroused anguish by the public. This “bee-pocalypse” scenario is overblown, often unrealistic, and contributor Rusty Burlew says it’s on the wane, but asks if it could emerge again. Unexplained honey bee losses have traditionally challenged beekeepers. So for the beekeeping community the phenomenon “comes with the territory.”
However, the topic of honey bee colony death has fueled huge interest in the future of this social insect. Consequently many individuals, especially those involved in natural and organic foods, environmental awareness, and other like-minded groups are taking a much closer look at honey bees and their management (beekeeping or apiculture). Who wouldn’t be fascinated by giving honey bees a home to fill up in short order as this video reveals.
This site, The Apis Information Resource Center, is developed by Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford, Professor Emeritus, University of Florida, author of Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees, and dedicated to informing beekeepers about topics important to both the beginner and advanced practitioner. The majority of this site is a densely-linked database, A Treatise on Modern Honey Bee Management, dedicated to informing beekeepers about topics important to both the beginner and advanced beekeeper. It also features a blog on current events linked to the treatise when appropriate. The treatise can be treated somewhat like an electronic book, designed for both desktop and mobile applications. However, the content is much more varied than one might find elsewhere in any other educational resource oriented toward the beekeeping public.
Honey bees have an interesting parallel with human society that make them attractive. Both have elements of the highest degree of social interaction among the world’s living creatures, eusociality, and are “superorganisms” in their own right. In addition, most of the world’s ancient and modern religions have a spiritual connection with the honey bee.
Beekeeping is a reasonable pastime to consider, but it takes much more work and attention to detail than it did just a few decades ago. This is due to increasing challenges posed by pests, pathogens and pesticides or some combination of these, all included into the current “colony collapse disorder” conversation. Most authorities continue to agree, however, that the biggest shift that has occurred affecting honey bee culture is introduction of the mite, Varroa destructor, first found in the United States in 1987, now present everywhere with the exception of Australia. A long list of likes and dislikes developed by contributor Rusty Burlew, who doesn’t attempt to talk folks into becoming beekeepers, is worth considering.
More recently, pesticides have taken a front row seat in the long list of beekeeping challenges, especially those found associated with a new class of chemicals, neonicotinoids. These and other considerations increasingly important in what has become a relatively new mantra for scientists and beekeepers alike; the pursuit of honey bee health.
Those interested in beginning beekeeping should consider finding a good book on the subject to begin their journey. Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees has recently been adopted by the Montana Online Apprentice-Level Beekeeping Course, and is available at many bee supply stores around the English-speaking world, including Australia.
A list of resources concerning apiculture (beekeeping) is appended here, Beekeepers are also urged to join a bee club in their vicinity. Most states have a beekeeping association with a listing of local groups. In addition many have a state regulatory office charged with ensuring beekeepers practice suggested best management practices in the field. In the final analysis, just like for real estate, “all beekeeping is local.”
Subscribe to the blog on this site for current information of interest, and peruse the table of contents for an overview of what’s presented. Finally, take a look at the contributors who have indicated an interest in helping develop this resource.
Here’s what Contributor Bill Catherall regards as the most important things folks can do do assist honey bees. Published April 28, 2012, 5:45 minutes in length. This resulted in his commitment to become a beekeeper and start a blog on the experience.
Beekeeping as a development tool has been used in many rural societies in an effort to increase income. The author has been privileged to be able to meet and communicate with beekeepers in many settings around the world. These are cataloged here under Europe (Italy 1989 and France 1997), Latin America (Chile 2002, Ecuador 2000), Nicaragua 2017) and the Middle East (Eqypt 1992 and Iraq 2005) among others. Increasingly, beekeeping (apiculture) is also being employed in prisons in an effort to increase employment opportunities for those both in confinement and being released.