Interesting stuff. Thank you for the link.
I think I posted this elsewhere but not sure. Below is an article printed in the October Pennsylvania state beekeepers newsletter, concerning the issue about Entomologists promoting the mason bees. It is a topic that the beekeeping industry needs to discuss. And lets be clear....they are promoting masons to farmers, not as an alternative for beekeepers to consider. We are being cut out of the picture.
Article as follows.......
Thinking Outside the Box
When CCD first hit the scene, congressional hearings were held, claims were made that Einstein said we would all die within four years without honey bees, movies were made, articles written, and some of this hyper-drama continues even today. Maybe that would be a good article for the future. But for now, lets focus on how all this could impact others into action. I’m sure there has been many more gallons of ice cream consumed, entomology department payrolls increased, and other benefits seen outside the bee industry. But what about some not so mentioned items. What long term impacts or trends have been set into motion that will have lasting consequences? And lets ask what happens when you ask others, or better yet, push others, into thinking outside their own boxes by the actions of the bee industry.
I raised an eyebrow as I was talking to a couple farmers two years ago. They had casually mentioned a well known entomologist and asked me if I knew the name. I said yes. I asked how did they know the person? They went on to tell me about a presentation made to the fruit growers association a couple evenings prior, and the main topic was about using alternative pollinators. It kind of irked me to know that the same people researching CCD were the same ones telling farmers not to place all their eggs in the same basket and promoting alternative pollinators. But who could blame others when the bee industry itself keeps repeating the same doom and gloom message that the sky is falling. So it was not a surprise when I noticed this spring some cans of mason bees hanging from poles in one of the farms I pollinate. I mentioned the new mason bees cans to the farmer. He said one of the local Penn State extension employee was promoting their use and actually providing them free for the first year. I thought that was very convenient.
Now the one thing that farmers do is talk. And they all know each other. Not much is missed on the grapevine. So I heard many comments and was contacted in both 2007 and 2008 about three frame pollination units that farmers were not happy with, especially after one of the largest pollination fee increases being passed on after CCD first hit. Seems some were trying to make up for lost hives by splitting too much and then raising fees at the same time.
I also recently read about a study conducted in new Jersey that found out that 21 out 23 vine crop farms had enough native pollinators to adequately pollinate their crops. You do not need to look far to find such articles and research being conducted. The message is out, the message is clear to farmers…Look into native pollinators! Seek other pollinators. The honey bees are in crisis! Protect yourself!
The bee industry has forced others to look into other forms of pollination. Farmers are considering other avenues than paying for over priced, weak, or (put in their minds by beekeepers) that the honey bee may not be available in the future.
It was no surprise last week when the farm that had mason bees placed on his farm cancelled his contract for next year. Although I never had CCD, and have not raised my fees in 4 years, he as well as other farmers have been inundated with the honey bees plight, the idea of other pollinators may be better or superior, and that they need to look into other means to protect themselves.
The big mega operations, as well as almonds will always need bees. Having enough native pollinators from the surrounding countryside is not going to happen when you count plantings of one crop by “square miles”. But those smaller family farms, which are important to both large and smaller beekeeping operations, are asking if they really need the honey bees, looking into alternative pollinators, scaling back as research keeps coming forward suggesting the use of honey bees are not needed. And some farmers are looking into more crops that are self pollinating. And who can we thank for this….Beekeepers!
The bee industry keeps shooting themselves in the foot, then dragging themselves down the street screaming for all to take notice. How much more bleeding can we take?
Maybe CCD is more than just a bunch of migratory beekeepers needing to clean up their practice. Although being one who has been hammered in years past for even suggesting illegal chemicals were even being used, it does make me smile as I notice some claim they have far less CCD problems after good sound practices have been implemented. And if it is more than bad beekeeping, maybe we can get to the conclusion without too many more self inflicted gunshots to the feet.
It is about time we start rallying the industry in many ways. We need to be aware of the public message sent forth and consequences put into motion. We need to protect our industry and become relative and important as providers of a product and service. After all, the sky is not falling, the food industry is not crashing, and there is no shortage of bees. But farmers have been forced to look “Outside the box” and they certainly are! I do not want to diminish the loss that many beekeepers suffered. I just want to point out industry trends and consequences that we all need to be aware of.
Well, I got to run. I hear there is a new movie or some show coming on called “The Last Beekeeper”. I hope my farmers are not watching it!