High Country Bee–Edition 1, May 2012

May 1, 2012 Tim Hardy blog


Thanks to all of you who participated in the newsletter naming contest!  The winner is Brent Edelen of Grampa’s Gourmet Honey with the suggestion of “High Country Bee”.  Brent has generously, but unnecessarily, donated his winnings back to CSBA for beverages for the next meeting. Done!

April went screaming by in a flash with the weather being pretty much magnificent for the entire month.  For the first time in years, I actually feel fairly caught up.  I feel this to be a combination of two factors.  One, I had low winter losses compared to the past two years.  Two, swarm season has not yet begun in earnest.  This will all change this month as the ladies begin to “fly the coop” en masse.  To all of you who are swarm-catchers out there, THANKS for your efforts.  Take pictures and video and share them!

CSBA Summer Meeting–June 16th

The final agenda for the CSBA Summer Meeting will be ready in a couple of weeks but will feature Colorado beekeeping and beekeeping issues.  Pre-registration will begin at 8 am and a full day of speakers will follow.  Lunch is included.  Last year, we held a “Beekeepers Ball” at the Pullman in Glenwood Springs.  It was a 6 course meal and featured HONEY–of all things.  As it was such a success, we will be repeating it this year.  Details will be released with the final agenda.

Pesticide Season is Here!

I got a call last week from my friend Tom Theobald who was in the process of moving a bee yard to avoid a pesticide application on alfalfa.  The pesticide in question was Warrior.  Warrior is a “broad spectrum” insecticide which means it kills every 6 legged creature with which it comes in contact.  Warrior is highly toxic to bees and other pollinators and Tom was simply not willing to assume the risk to his bees.

Agricultural applicators are only one part of the pesticide puzzle and, as they are licensed, may actually pose less of a threat to your bees than your neighbors (or your self).  Read this article for more information on home neonicotinoid use.  I just got wind of a list of consumer products that contain neonicotinoids and will be publishing it as soon as I see it.

The CSBA is truly concerned with both agricultural and urban pesticide use.  John Scott, Pesticides Program Manager for the CO Department of Agriculture (CDA) will be speaking at both the NCBA May meeting and the CSBA Summer Meeting.  The CDA is launching a new program called DriftWatch with the hopes of eliminating, or at least reducing, bee loss from agricultural pesticide application.

In addition, the CSBA is piloting a program in conjunction with BCBA, NCBA  and BBBSeed to educate consumers on the importance of pollinators.  The Pollinator Week promotion will run from June 18 through June 24.  We will have brochures available, pollinator seed blends and pollinator-friendly garden plants along with alternative pollinator housing featured all week long at participating Boulder and Larimer county nurseries and garden centers.  On Saturday, June 23, we will staff the booths with a gardener and a beekeeper to answer questions from consumers.  If you are interested in participating, we would LOVE the help.  Please contact me directly.

As your bees are near and dear to your heart, I can only hope that you are keeping up with the latest findings in the press regarding the neonicotinoid class of pesticides that Tom, personally, has bulldogged to national attention.  Your friends and your contacts with the “non-bee” world look to you for information on these issues.  The CSBA website has links to the latest in bee news in Resources–Articles.  Please find the time to familiarize yourself with these pesticide issues.

Neonicotinoids operate in a much more stealthy fashion than contact-kill pesticides.  A contact kill pesticide means that the bees were sprayed directly and are dying immediately.  In a hive, it is characterized by the sudden and mass die-off of bees.  If you have the poor luck to actually be present for this event, they you will see bees acting as though they are having a seizure. Click here for a picture of a pesticide kill. (Photo credit:  Doris Locke)

What to do if you suspect a pesticide kill

If you think your bees have been killed by the possible misuse of a pesticide, you need to report it immediately.  Here is a link to the CDA website.  This is the page with all the FAQ’s on an apiary claim.  Please, whether you have 2 hives or 2000, REQUEST AN INVESTIGATION!  It is extremely important.

Next, document your losses.

Take photos and video.  Be sure to turn on the time/date stamp on your camera.

Take samples and put them in your freezer right away.

Contact your regional association, if you are a member of one.  If not, contact me so I can stay in the loop.

Keep a diary of all contacts made and be sure to note with whom you spoke and what day you did it.  We have had issues with a lack of timeliness in the past that we want to make sure do not occur in the future.

Hopefully, you will not need to request an investigation this summer or any summer–but now you know how to do it.

As always, please feel free to email/call me with any suggestions or concerns you may have.  Thank you for being a member.



1 Comment

  1. Debbie Wilkes 3 years

    Great newsletter! I’m looking forward to reading more!.
    As for the ‘neonic’s’: take a stroll down the lawn and garden care isle @ Home Depot. Many of the most common pesticides found there have ‘neonic’-based formulations. You made a good point about the licensed applicators vs. homeowners – licensed applicators have to follow rules regarding weather, humidity, etc. that the homeowner doesn’t know or care about. (This is also true for exterminators). With the rise in urban beekeeping, Mr. Public may be potentially defeating all the good work and progress that is beeing made by killing off all those new, expensive colonies that their neighbors have installed and now don’t want to replace due to the cost. And he won’t even know he did it. I wonder if there is something we can do to educate the public about this, and/or educate the “gardening experts” @ Home Depot, so they recommend less harmful stuff.

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