Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm asked to speak on beekeeping! And no, my audience didn't go to sleep!

Anytime that I'm asked to talk to a group on the importance of helping the honey bees, I'll do it. I guess I consider myself as a town crier of sorts to tout the need to help our insect friends to survive and thrive. I have to admit that when I decided to become a beekeeper, I never imagined that I would end up speaking to groups about my hobby or saving the honey bees. But its amazing how things evolve from one activity into something else completely.

My friend, Bruce Citty, asked me a month ago if I would be his guest at the Reidsville Kiwanis Club meeting to talk about beekeeping. Without hesitation, I said yes. So we set the date for September 23rd and I got myself prepared with some facts and figures...and I peppered them with a few personal experiences too. When I arrived, the Kiwanis fed me a really nice buffet lunch, then I spoke for about 15 minutes on why we need to help the hard working honey bee. Of course, I could have gone on for hours, but the Kiwanis Club is made up of busy business leaders, so I had to keep it short. 

What a great group! After I made my presentation, they asked some really great questions about hive management and honey production. And I think they took great delight (especially the ladies) when they discovered that colonies are dominated by females and they kick the drones out in the fall. It seems that when people learn that the ladies work themselves to death, all while they attend to the drone's every need...they think it mimicks human life. It always gets a few chuckles. 

I really appreciate Bruce for inviting me to speak to the Reidsville Kiwanis Club to spread the good word about beekeeping! It was fun and I hope to go back sometime in the future and talk about it even more. And thanks to Bob Mullings for the great photographs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fears of a Decline in Bee Pollination Confirmed (from the American Bee Journal)

TORONTO, ON - Widespread reports of a decline in the population of bees and other flower-visiting animals have aroused fear and speculation that pollination is also likely on the decline. A recent University of Toronto study provides the first long-term evidence of a downward trend in pollination, while also pointing to climate change as a possible contributor.

"Bee numbers may have declined at our research site, but we suspect that a climate-driven mismatch between the times when flowers open and when bees emerge from hibernation is a more important factor," says James Thomson, a scientist with U of T's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Thomson's 17-year examination of the wild lily in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado is one of the longest-term studies of pollination ever done. It reveals a progressive decline in pollination over the years, with particularly noteworthy pollination deficits early in the season. The study will be published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences on September 6.

Three times each year, Thomson compared the fruiting rate of unmanipulated flowers to that of flowers that are supplementally pollinated by hand. "Early in the year, when bumble bee queens are still hibernating, the fruiting rates are especially low," he says. "This is sobering because it suggests that pollination is vulnerable even in a relatively pristine environment that is free of pesticides and human disturbance but still subject to climate change."

Thomson began his long-term studies in the late 1980s after purchasing a remote plot of land and building a log cabin in the middle of a meadow full of glacier lilies. His work has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. (University of Toronto)