Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Help honeybees in Idaho this year

    Most people are aware that bees are in peril. Between parasitic mites, viruses, pesticides and a lack of good forage, bees are struggling, and since our food supply depends on bees to a large degree, it is in the best interest for everyone to do what we can, individually, to assist them.
    Many hobby beekeepers have started up in recent years to help “save the bees”, and while it is a noble theme, improvement can only come from a total public effort. While mites and bee viruses can be fought though improved hive management, better forage for bees can be increased by anyone. Even small yards can support a few bee plants, while those with large yards could devote a large bed. Farmers could make a huge difference if they were to leave just one corner of a field or fence line unsprayed, and scatter flower seeds on those spots. While the mindset is to spray weeds with weed killer, those blooms provide a variety in the bee diet, which equates to better nutrition, so the spot back of the shed, or the fence row that usually gets denuded, can play a very important role in helping bees survive.
    Bee-friendly seed mixtures are readily available. Whether you use seeds or purchased plants, bees will benefit most from later-blooming varieties like asters, salvia, mint and sage, as late summer is when bees have less food available, since we live in a desert, and the nectar flow has fallen off by then.
    Spraying of pesticides seems normal these days. We all fight bugs somehow. If you read the label before you purchase pesticide, it will indicate how toxic it is to bees. Choosing the mildest poison in the smallest quantity that will work is the best policy both for bees and your pocket book. If you care about bees, never spray pesticides in the middle of the day. For yard and garden, there are organic methods that will work well, but if you are going to spray bugs anyway, spraying in late evening is the best policy. The bees have pretty much gone to bed, and it gives the pesticide several hours to break down before bees begin to forage again. If you spray in the daylight, pesticide-laden pollen is brought back to the hive and fed to the young. So we all can play a role—the beekeeper by using best management practices, and the property owner growing bee forage, and using common sense with chemicals.
    When bee habitat improves, we all benefit with increased farm production and gardens that show significant improvement, so let’s work together.
Frank Grover
Boise beekeepe

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