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Beekeeping: An Update From Phinizy Beekeepers

By Kim Dillard and Jen McGrutter

Being a Beekeeper isn’t that hard, especially if you have a passion for it. BUT being a beekeeper today requires you to offer a little help to these girls, and being on time with it! No Ifs, Ands or Buts.  Both of our colonies have declined. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a strong queen/colony then the threat of disease and parasites can become real issues for you and your pollinators. AND if you don’t maintain and treat your hives ON TIME then you have double the odds stacked against you.
Both of our hives had issues with Varroa mites (a small parasitic arachnid) and European Foulbrood Disease or EFB (a bacteria that infects and kills the young); we made the mistake of not treating our hives in a timely matter for Varroa mites. The effect was lowered immunity and then EFB. Being our first year of beekeeping, this was a very big learning lesson, but also a fatal one for our little honey bees.
Although we are heartbroken by this happening, it has not discouraged us from trying again. With honey bee populations declining around the globe, the bees need us to keep trying. Quite frankly, WE also need us to keep trying. One third of our food here in the United States is dependent on honey bees! We need to help the honey bees out, even if for no other reason than to help ourselves.

Some people feel indifferent about honey bees because there is a stigma attached to them as being dangerous and aggressive insects that want to sting you. A species called the Africanized Honey Bee can be very defensive and aggressive, but most other honey bees want nothing to do with you (including our Italian Honey Bees we had here at the park). They don’t want to sting you, they want to work and take care of their colony and hive. If they feel threatened, then of course they will defend their colony, but stinging is a last resort (because if honey bees sting you they die).

Studies have shown that many things from pesticides to parasites and disease are the major reason for bee population declines around the world. We have been no exception to this struggle. We hope to begin anew in the coming spring. Please continue to support our cause as we travel through our beekeeping journey here at the nature park.