Monday, November 25, 2013

Buzz off, Monsanto!

Last week, the term “bee-washing” emerged in public conversation. It doesn’t refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to the insidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees — especially neonicotinoids — by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.
This week, pesticide makers are showcasing these tactics during National Pollinator Week with offers of free seed packets to people who take their poorly named “pollinator pledge.” The “bee-washing” term has gained traction as scientists and groups like PAN continue to cut through the misinformation and point to the emerging body of science that points to pesticides as a critical factor in bee declines.
Monsanto hosted their first so-called Honey Bee Health Summit last week, a gathering at the company’s headquarters in Missouri. Without question, some truly smart, dedicated scientists attended Monsanto's bee summit and are participating in these efforts.
And a similarly committed group of beekeepers who care about bees, beekeeping and our food system have also participated. What’s increasingly clear, though, is that the credibility of these individuals is being used to shield the agenda of a handful of pesticide corporations and their bee-harming insecticide products. The corporate PR gymnastics on display are truly impressive.
Unfortunately, Monsanto is not alone in its efforts.  Just this spring, Bayer sponsored a tour of its “specially-wrapped beehicle” and hosted a talk at Ohio State University in March, over loud objections from local beekeepers. 

Not here. Look over there!

Industry has largely set its sights on one issue to blame for bee declines. While lack of sufficient forage and diseases are a challenge to bee health and beekeeping, challenges exacerbated by the weakening effect of pesticides on bees, the pesticide industry has focused a large proportion of its attention on the varroa mite. And it’s an easy distraction that places the burden of unprecedented bee losses on beekeepers — while subverting any blame for the widespread pesticide products.
Unfortunately for Monsanto & Co, and as most beekeepers and academics will say, the varroa mite has been around a long time, predating dramatic bee declines in U.S. that started in 2006. While mites no doubt affect bee colonies, they are unlikely the primary driver of population declines.
There is a correlation, however, between the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) on the market and bee die-offs. Independent studies show — and beekeepers corroborate from hands-on experience — that these pesticides weaken bees' immune systems, likely damaging their resistance to common challenges like the varroa mite.
Neonics are one of the largest growth sectors for the pesticide industry. And industry has a vested interest in keeping the neonic market growing. But we know that spin efforts to refocus attention on varroa mites were already attempted in Europe, and the approach has been largely unsuccessful. The EU just put continent-wide restrictions on the use of neonics in place.

Bees are still dying

Pesticide corporations don’t show any sign of letting up. If this spring and summer are any indication, then the “bee-washing” campaign will continue. Beekeepers will remain the victims of this targeted PR campaign.
And the costs of are very real. Earlier this month, Jim Doan — a third generation commercial beekeeper from upstate New York — literally sold his farm due to bee losses. For years, he produced over half a million pounds of honey annually and eventually grew his business to 5,300 hives. But when neonicotinoid pesticides started being commonly used in the U.S., around 2006, Jim's bees started dying.
He’s experienced serious losses to bees he brought to citrus groves in Florida and the cornfields of New York. And now, he only has 300 hives left. In an email he circulated last week, he wrote:
“I am done. I cannot continue. Sold my farm 2 weeks ago, I am giving up, there is no hope here."
Bees are continuing to die off at unprecedented rates and beekeepers are going out of business. There is clearly something amiss — and the pesticide industry would have us believe that their products play no part in this alarming trend. PAN, beekeepers and our partners will continue to shine a light on corporate "bee-washing" and spin efforts to subdue or obfuscate the growing body of science pointing to this clear message: pesticides are playing a key role in bee deaths.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pam's Pie...

For those who were unable to attend the November meeting and honey recipe contest, here's a peek at a bit of what you missed.  This gorgeous pie was baked by our own first lady, Pam Rys!  This is Pam's ginger, honey and pumpkin pie and it took second place in our honey recipe contest.   
The first place winner was our treasurer, Cheryl Robare who made her Nutella and honey baklava.  Needless to say, it did not last long enough to snap a photo.  Third place was taken by club member Lora Sandhusen who made a honey spice cake.  All three ladies were awarded nice cash prizes and everyone who attended was able to sample these fine desserts as well as a few others.

Bee well!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Millions of Bees Swarm Georgia Interstate After Truck Overturns...

ATLANTA (Reuters) - An overturned tractor-trailer let loose millions of honeybees on Sunday and left a sticky mess on a major highway south of Atlanta, after hitting a guardrail and spilling its cargo of hives and honey.
"It looked like there was a rain cloud around everybody," Monroe County Emergency Management Agency director Matthew Perry said on Monday. "There was a giant mound of honeycomb and bees."
A portion of Interstate 75 was closed briefly, and clean-up of the honey and swarming bees took 15 hours, Perry said.
Authorities sought help from beekeepers, who arrived with protective gear to assist with the potentially dangerous swarm.
The debris was pushed to the median with a small bulldozer and then beekeepers began piecing the broken hives back together so the bees would return, Perry said. The hives were loaded back into bee boxes and hauled away.
No one was stung or injured, in part because the weather was cool and the bees docile, Perry said.
"When you have an interstate like I-75, you never know what's going to come passing through," he said.
(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Alden Bentley)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas Party!

Don't forget to sign up for this year's Christmas party!  It's always a good time and you can't beat the price! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stung to Death?

A Polish beekeeper passed out after being stung and woke up inside a coffin.

Jozef Guzy had been pronounced dead after suffering a suspected heart attack and was about to be sealed up in a coffin when the undertaker discovered a faint pulse.

An ambulance was called and a doctor declared that the 76-year-old had died.

“There were no signs of life when his wife called the ambulance," according to Jerzy Wisniewski , of the Katowice Regional Ambulance Service.

'The patient was not breathing, there was no heart beat, the body had cooled - all are the characteristics of death.

Three hours later, an undertaker arrived to take the body away.

He was placed in a coffin by undertaker Darius Wysluchato until Mr Guzy's wife, Ludmilla, asked him to retrieve her late husband's necklace before closing the lid.

As Mr Wysluchato fiddled with the watch chain he happened to touch Mr Guzy's neck and detected a pulse.

He said: 'I touched around the neck artery and suddenly realised he asn't dead after all. I checked again and shouted, "It's a pulse!"

'I had a friend check and he noticed the man was breathing. God, it was a miracle!"

The same ambulance that had earlier called Mr Guzy's death rushed back to the scene before admitting the pensioner to intensive care.

After several weeks he made a full recovery.

Doctors have concluded that it was a case of suspended animation.

The doctor who falsely diagnosed him as dead has apologised.

Mr Guzy added, “The undertaker saved my life. The first thing I did when I got out of hospital was take him a pot of honey.”

* Source: The Belfast Telegraph

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sharing Our Love for Bees...

One of my favorite things about bee-ing a beekeeper is the moment that someone first finds out that I'm a beekeeper.  For the most part, people seem to think it's pretty cool and say things like "Wow!" and "That's pretty cool!"  Some folks go the opposite route and say things like "Gross!" or "Weird!".  Either way, it's a great start up for conversation.  Some of my favorite people to talk to about bees with are the littlest ones.  Kids have a way with words and questions that lacks the inhibition and restraint we adults practice.  For me it's ALMOST always fun talking to kids about bees.

I was very happy to be asked to speak to a local Brownie Troop about bees and bee-ing a backyard beekeeper to help them earn an insect badge.  We talked bee basics, I showed them all of my equipment, we tried some of my honey and I even brought an observation hive so they could find the queen.  It was very fun!

Here we are...

I know I'm not the only who has volunteered to share my love of honeybees with the kids... Club member Annette Isner shared her love of bees with a group of pre-schoolers from Westfield and was thanked for her time with this amazing beehive...
Has anyone else had a volunteer experience they would like to share?  Please let me know, I'd love to add it to our blog.  If anyone has plans to do anything like this in the future, plan to take pictures and share your experience!  Keep spreading that honeybee love! 

Bee well!