Tonight at the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers meeting the speaker was Dr. Keith Delaplane speaking on CCD. Interestingly the media was there. I saw camerapeople from two TV stations and he was asked to go to a different room after his talk with us to speak to CNN.
I'm only the messenger and don't necessarily know that he has all the answers (personally I think Michael Bush has all the answers
And Finsky and Brian.
This is what I got from what he said:
**Honeybees have been on a steady decline in this country over many, many years, due increasingly to our agricultural practices no longer requiring animals to feed in the fields, so less crops for the honeybees.
I would equate that to beekeepers being on the decline. Feral bees are doing fine. What he does say is basically true. Things like corn , sugar, and tomatoes don't require pollination by honeybees.
**With the advent of the varroa mite, beekeeping went from an organic, hands off endeavor to a chemically dependent endeavor. This has resulted in the quality of queens going down, with many queens living only 6 months - 1 year; finding drone brood among worker brood, and having high supercedure rates.
Correct. So what does that say about the use of chemicals. Yes I believe the level of commerical queens is low.
The issues contributing to bees disappearing from hives are some not in our control (environmental pesticide usage, the presence of mites in the world, viruses, etc). However the issues that we can change include:
**in hive pesticide use
It is really hard to say this directly, but I will. Probably the biggest cause of CCD is current methods used to manage hives. All of which are part of what you listed above. The old comb item is the only one I wonder about but most commerical
beekeepers have comb that is laden with chemicals.
He encouraged using no pesticides in the hives and replacing old comb regularly.
If you don't use chemicals you don't have much need to replace comb.
He said that migratory stress is about how the honeybee in one setting works about 6 - 10 weeks per year during the honey flow. Commercial beekeepers by moving their hives from flow to flow as the bee to work many 6 - 10 week periods in the year, thus wearing the bees out and making them more subject to disease.
I think the bees would deal with the stress better if they weren't weakened by chemicals and low quality queens.
He mentioned a commercial beekeeper in N Georgia (Bob Binnie) who feeds each hive 5 gallons of syrup every fall and Dr. Delaplane said that we are not feeding our bees enough, thus resulting in poor nutrition.
I think that is a bit high, but I am in SoFla so I don't need to.
He strongly encouraged IPM - screened bottom boards, powdered sugar shakes.
This could cause a price increase on powdered sugar.
He cited studies done at UGA for all of what he had to say and presented graphs and data to support his talk. In general he doesn't think that CCD is anything new, but is the cumulative result of chemical beekeeping.
His theories are no worse than any other. Peer review makes the difference.
A kid in the audience asked if cell phones were the problem and he smiled and simply said, "No."
Linda T reporting from Atlanta
Okay I was wrong, there is one theory that is worse than the others.