The March 23, 2016 edition of the Apis Information Resource News has been published, containing information on swarming, deformed wing virus, almonds and climate change.
At quite a distance from the apiary, the roar was unmistakable. The swarm had just begun to issue. One becomes almost as excited as the bees taking part in this reproductive orgy. At the same time disappointment settles into the human psyche. These insects, so carefully looked after in Winter and early Spring, will soon be gone along with any potential honey crop. The cry of the embattled agriculturalist and sports fan alike comes to mind: “Wait ’til next year.”
The din and cloud of swirling insects gradually increased to a full-throated ecstasy, before declining as the swarm settled itself high in a tree, not fifty feet from the colony that produced it. As I have repeatedly said, timing is everything in beekeeping. Arriving only 10 minutes later would have revealed a hive with a reduced population and perhaps some abandoned queens cells as the only clue to what happened. The swarm’s .noise would have been absent from the settled honey bee cluster in that nearby tree. We probably would never have discovered it. Can you see it here right in the center of the photo?
What to do? My conclusion: Nothing! This swarm was perhaps 30 feet high in a slender tree. We had other fish to fry checking other colonies in the apiary. I also had to leave and was in no mood to undertake what I saw was a high risk operation with little potential payback. An hour after I left, however, my partner via a photo on Facebook convinced me to return to the scene of the crime. The tree had been pulled over and the swarm was not more than 4 feet off the ground in a horizontal position. We dressed and hived them expeditiously. Lucky us!
Our bees in a rather isolated spot in northwest Gainesville, Florida are remarkably free of many maladies affecting honey bees around the world. This includes a disease recently called “man-made and driven by European populations of the honeybee,” and recently found in Florida A paper in Science appears to be the major source of reporting about this “pandemic” of deformed wing virus. In reality, there’s not much “new” about the disease. And in spite of the hype it is the 800-pound gorilla in the apiary (Varroa destructor) that is probably the major culprit.
The sensationalized manner of the above articles and the specific term “Man made” get my goat . Better said perhaps is that deformed wing virus is “spread by humans,” that move honey bees around, affecting countless other colonies in numerous ways. I am now reading the book Sapiens. It reveals that “man made” ought to be out of date. It should be replaced by “human made,” most especially, by the modern incarnation of the species, Homo sapiens, to which anyone reading this belongs.
Joe Traynor’s latest newsletter was published on March 18, 2016. It features analysis of the 2016 almond season (El Niño took an “unscheduled leave of absence”) as well as the market’s outlook, and some prognostication concerning the next few years. Also it discusses in some detail foraging issues, and lists some future research on various topics. Research is a recurring topic, and it often can result in differences between what researchers and beekeepers appear to want from these investigations.
I attended the Imagining Climate Change conference held here at the University of Florida. One take away is that science fictional treatments of the phenomenon might help people better understand what is going on and what the consequences might be. Perhaps the shortest treatment is found in the following volume. A review of this “essay” might encourage readers to get the book it self.