Friday, July 4, 2008

Clarifying Issues: Part II

After reading my last post, I could see that it might easily be misinterpreted. I need to make something very clear: I have not given up on using organic and natural apicultural methods. If I can, I use the most "natural"/"organic" management methods available. So for example, I use foundationless frames in the Langstroth and, of course, simple top bars in Metpropolis, leaving cell size up to the bees. My varroa testing and management includes a screened bottom board, two drone brood frames, and periodic powdered sugar dusting. The bees water in a little planted pond kept balanced and mosquisto-less with white clouds and koi. Pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers are not used in the Forest of Beelandia, nor on the rest of our property. The grass (and weeds) are even mowed with an old-fashion push mower.

That being said, the foraging environment of Beelandia's bees is not over healthy I suppose. Within a two mile flying radius, the bees experience (a) the Mississippi River and all its pollutants, (b) two or three factories, (c) the West Side Public pool, (d) a golf course, (e) 4 bars :-), (f) a Brach's Candy factory, (g) the busy traffic of three main streets, and (h) the countless small gardens of neighbors who use both chemical and organic techniques in soil mixed with generations of lead paint and who knows what else. Add to this, the fact that the bees I've installed were produced in California and are not adapted to Minnesota winters, and I have a collection of interacting variables that can't help but stress the bees, making them more susceptable to an array of pests and diseases. In an environment like this, must I be infrequently prepared to set aside my "natural" apicultural management ideals when the bees are sick or plague by parasites? Or, must I just admit that sustainable beekeeping is impossible where I live? Only time can answer this.

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