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A suggestion for CCD

Posted by zephyray (My Page) on
Fri, May 18, 07 at 9:03

Ive read that organic beekeepers are not seeing CCD and this got me to thinking.

I emailed Connie J. Britton, Librarian at the Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center at Ohio State University with some questions including the following which she was kind enough to forward to Dr. James Tew, of OSU Department of Entomology and apiculture specialist. I suggested the routine planting of native wildflowers throughout crop fields as an attractant to bees (honeybee and native) and because it is healthier for the bees to have this varied diet. Perhaps our monocultural industrial agriculture is as draining on the bees as if we were expected to subsist on only one kind of food like, say, pasta. In the wild they draw pollen from many different species of flower in a given field.

Dr Tew replied that: You are correct in your concerns about a varied bee diet. Bees do require that in order for the colony to prosper. I sense that commercial growers would not go to the expense of adding a wildflower mix to their monoculture for no other monetary reason than to help bees. No doubt a common argument would be that the pollination rental fee is their contribution to bee management. Upon leaving the commercial fields, the beekeeper would be responsible for providing the varied diet to his bee colonies you have described. I am not opposed to your suggestion and cannot say whether or not it would work, but I can say that it's not presently done.

So beekeepers what about it? Wouldn't this be a more natural and effective practice than just dropping boxes off near a (toxic) field. Should a push be made to get I.A. to include non-poisonous native wildflowers in their crop planting. I have read that some people are concerned that the bees would mainly visit the wildflowers. In my uneducated opinion I find that doubtful, rather I suspect that these crops might attract native bees and INCREASE pollination (and native bee numbers). On my own property honeybee and their smaller native bee cousins work side by side just fine. About I.A. not being interested in the program my guess is that when the alternative is no crops they may change their tune.

For this to work though, Roundup Ready (GMO) Crops would have to be dispensed with since they are the quintenncential monoculture. Herbicide is sprayed to put down all plants except the crop plant itself.

But who wants 'em anyway. I mean they are even a suspect in CCD.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: A suggestion for CCD

Dr. Tew is well known among the U.S. beekeeping community - he authors many articles which are typically well received and his views respected.

RE: A suggestion for CCD

I hate to recommend a non-native but as I work in plant nurseries and if I WAS going to recommend one that honey bees seem to adore it would be lavender (sp. Lavendula). Maybe this is because the native home for both (lavender and honey bee) is the same general landmass. Perhaps they evolved together.
The same goes for rosemary and honeysuckles. Honeybees love 'em. So I guess a good way to attract honeybees is to find aromatic plants that are also native to the same European/Mediterranean region that honeybees come from (though those places are also suffering CCD).

RE: A suggestion for CCD

Total newbie to this. Personaly I would not rule out R.f in the form of microwaves, however frequencies are not what I would assume to affect the beasties. However Where it comes to verora mite and viruses and also bacteria, has anyone tried fitting cold cathode U.V which can be run off 12 volt car batteries and are usually supplied for computer systems. U.V kills bacteria and perhaps may kill viruses, surely at a tiny cost it would be worth trying.


RE: A suggestion for CCD

Hi, long time GW reader and just exploring the possibilities of bee keeping. I don't know what companion crop would be best for bees but I do know a thing or 2 about companion crops in general. I've been studying them and using them since 1978. Most commercial growers don't want a companion crop growing for the same reason they don't want any other plants or weeds growing. The secondary plants compete for root space and the elements in the soil and fear that they will harbor pests. If you do find a grower who is willing to consider companion crops, the best from the point of view of helping the soil is alfalfa. Other crops include sudan grass, clover, chick pea and vetch. But companion crops do effect mono-crops so, it may be an uphill battle. On a smaller scale, it may be possible to get wild flowers planted around borders and edges where nothing is grown.
Back to what I don't know, I would wonder if the bees would range less far, like to the far end of my field, if there were other flowers closer to keep them busy? I don't know but a farmer might want an informed answer to that when he is depending on pollination for is economic success.

RE: A suggestion for CCD

I saw an article not too long ago (on the antique rose forum) that basically says growers are going to have to interplant, or they'll be pollinating the crops themselves!

Farmers have left hedgerows for years, bordering their fields. It provides a place for wild roses, shad bushes, and many other small shrubs to grow, and gives a living space for birds and other wildlife.

I think crop/orchard growers are going to have to think about doing the same thing. If they want to be certified as green growers (not necessarily organic) then it should be mandatory. They can then charge a little more (for being green) and that will help make up the small loss to their crops. They may be able to save a little on pesticides too, as birds and beneficials will help keep some of the bugs down....not all, but a few :)

RE: A suggestion for CCD

What effect would UV light have on the bees? It would definitely attract them.

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