Most beekeepers that venture into providing beehives for pollination services will often use holding yards. Holding yards are needed when large quantities of hives are temporarily transported to one location while they wait to be moved into orchards or summer locations. Listed below are some strategies to help reduce the stress on hives while they wait in a holding yard.
Natural beekeeping is a recent buzz word in the industry. Natural beekeeping, a fluid term, roughly refers to minimal disturbance and manipulation to the hive. This system attempts to create a natural environment for the bees where they are left to their own devices to survive – nothing added and only a small amount of excess honey taken. Strategies are put in place to limit or altogether eliminate chemicals and antibiotics from the hive. In some extremes, natural beekeeping forgoes supplemental feeding of sugar syrup, use of foundation and moving hives to assist in pollinating commercial crops. But, are natural beekeeping practices the answer for all beekeepers?
If I were to pick one part of beekeeping that I dislike most, I would say moving bees in the dark of night, by hand. You see, bees don’t fly when it’s dark, they crawl. They crawl all over your bee suit. And when the conditions are such they will sting the crap out you. I learned a terrible, yet valuable lesson about the temperament of ticked off bees many years ago when I was stung over fifty times one night moving hives.
Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD has reared its ugly head again. The losses are similar to those I saw in 2006 when I lost seventy percent of my hives. This year the number reach eighty percent. It’s as bad as I have ever seen it. What gives me hope is that my families bee business recovered from our losses in 2006 and went on to enjoy five prosperous years with strong honey crops and all-time high pollination income. As I have put plans in motion to recover from our catastrophic losses of the past eight months I am hopeful that the coming years will be kind to our bees.
There are very mixed opinions in the world of beekeeping about the almond pollination in California. It has received part blame on the outbreak of CCD due to transporting hives long distances. The almond groves could be considered the countries petri dish for bee diseases. With over a million and a half hives being trucked into a condensed area of California, hives are bound to catch some additional virus or bacteria. The so-called “natural” beekeeping movement speaks as if it’s a horrible stress to inflict on these poor insects and should be stopped. And all the while commercial and sideline beekeepers quietly load up the semi trucks year after year and move their beehives into the almond groves. Continue reading