Oh bee-have!

WE HAVE bees! A few months ago we were put into contact with a local beekeeper that needed a secure location for his beehives. We were happy to oblige and just this week he came by and placed his hives.

Bees are amazing. I recommend everyone stop reading this blog immediately and watch Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Bee Movie’. It is both entertaining and scientifically accurate. Really? Yes. And yes, bees do drive around in the hives in small bee cars. No further questions please.

Bees, among other pollinators, are very important for the life cycle of crops, fruits, and vegetables. Without pollination up to 90% of all plants would cease to exist. Of that 90%, bees, butterflies, wasps, and flies pollinate up to 80%. This is called biotic pollination.

You might say, “That’s fascinating Peter, but I’m going to watch a kitten video on YouTube now,” But hold on! The plot thickens!

And it thickens thusly: Since the 1970s the bee population has been dropping dramatically. Bees are suffering from something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). For many years it has been very mysterious, but our good friend Science has recently found some reasons for it. There have been a number of combining factors that have caused up to 25% per year since the 1990s of hives to collapse in North America. Science tells us it has to do with mite infestations, abnormal weather, retiring beekeepers, poor colony management, and shifting agricultural practices.

Most interesting to us is the agricultural practices. Although the case is overstated, the use of some pesticides has negative effects on bees. In particular, a lot of seed (mostly corn) is treated with a fungicide which prevents the seed from rotting in the ground during germination. The idea is sound, since it protects a crop and thereby increases yield. But, the same chemicals that protect the seed attack the nervous system of bees and other insects and causes them to die.

The agricultural community is slowly becoming aware and involved in preventing this. There are other seed treatments available which do not contain these chemicals. Also, farmers know that they need bees to have good crops, so it is in their best interest to protect them. It’s like having millions of free laborers! It’s estimated that in the US alone pollination results in $40 billion of produce annually.

Making a bee friendly farm can increase yields by up to 20%. And this is where we bring it back to our farm: Especially for our fruit crops such as the blueberries and blackberries, it’s definitely in our best interest to have some hives on our farm. So, welcome bees!