Homegrown Research is Positively Impacting Honeybees
Bees are buzzing in Jared and Cassidee Whatcott’s backyard in ornamental looking bee boxes. They were motivated to keep bees for honey, teach their children to work, and help their garden and fruit tree production. In April they took a beekeeping class, paid the $10 license fee, purchased their boxes, bought bees from IFA and quickly observed their bees building honeycomb box by box. They attribute steady growth to supplementing the bees’ food source with sugar syrup. Around Labor Day they plan to harvest honey leaving enough honeycomb for some of the bees to last through the winter until they start again in the spring. Their garden is flourishing more than in prior years crediting it to the bees. They are excited about the symbiotic relationship as they closely watch bees deliver sticky pollen to the colony and look forward to homegrown honey.
Another Draper family, the Readings, have a reputation for their amazing garden and bee boxes motivated by self-sufficiency and their children’s work ethic. Heather says, “Everything my husband Jason touches turns to gold,” and in their first year of beekeeping they harvested three gallons of honey. Heather knowledgeably shares, “With a life span of 90 days the males, or drones, only job is to mate with the queen. The female worker bees clean the hive, feed the colony, insulate the queen bee all winter to produce eggs, and then care for offspring.” Sadly, the Readings bees died last winter from a disease. The actual cause or disease is unknown.
Social media is buzzing that bees are dying at an alarming rate. “Save the bees” is heard in conversation and the news. In 2006 populations declined worldwide as worker bees disappeared or abandoned their hives resulting from a “mystery” syndrome officially named Colony Collapse Disorder.
Michele Tuft with IFA says, “Shortages make it important to learn about bees and make your property bee friendly. The interest in beekeeping is growing.” IFA sells beekeeping supplies and solitary mason bees and nonaggressive leaf cutter bees that do not make honey but pollinate. Bees may be ordered in January and arrive in April. IFA offers six different classes taught by Chris Rodesch, a Salt Lake County Apiary Inspector. Rodesch is not an exterminator but an educator. His goal is to teach people what they can do to prevent problems related to bees and beekeeping. Some inspectors volunteer their time, but Rodesch says, “It is remarkable to see the state putting money towards this global bee epidemic including offering a free county service to inspect private hives.” Rodesch may be contacted at 801.633.6589 or ChrisRodesch@Gmail.com.
One third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. These extensive crops include popular foods like apples, strawberries, tomatoes and almonds. With a shrinking habitat, bees may be in danger as a species and we may be as well since most of the world’s pollination is by bees. The cost of replacing the role of bees worldwide was estimated in 2013 at $90,000,000,000.
BYU Microbiology Professor, Sandra Hope, Ph.D., and her students’ are working on a non-antibiotic solution to treat the infectious bacteria known as American Foulbrood with what is called phage therapy. Hope says, “The therapy is in the process of getting FDA approval as an organic and safe option with the added bonus that it works.” In the meantime, Hope shares, “We are able to give the treatment to beekeepers willing to gather and share data on its effectiveness. This collaboration with beekeepers helps gather information required for FDA approval.”
Giving bees a chance of “beeing” around is buzz worthy.