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so that buzzing isn’t just in my head?

January 24, 2011

When I showed you our outbuildings last week, I wasn’t sure if I

should include the beehives.

They were brought in early last fall by Frank, an island beekeeper

who has some hives in a neighbour’s apple orchard.

He gave us a tour of a hive.

Frank doesn’t usually wear any protective gear.  He says his bees are

mellow.  He did, however, demonstrate the smoker.  Supposedly  it

convinces the little buzzers that a forest fire is near, focusing their

energy into saving the hive.  Wikipedia notes that it also masks

alarm pheromones released by guard bees or those squashed when

a hive is opened.  But that’s just Wikipedia’s opinion.

He also told us that the drones, smaller than the queen but twice the

size of worker bees, have brilliant but brief careers.  They’re used

strictly for stud service.  The workers tend to their every need so

the drones can service the queen.  They do no labor, do no stinging,

don’t even have to say “I’ll call you”.  But when their specialty is no

longer required, the workers push their big lazy asses out of the hive.

Unable even to use cellphones (and not having any) to call Pizza Hut,

the drones perish quicker than a moth in a bonfire.  This is exactly

the type of job I dreamed of in high school, except for the retirement


Frank initially brought one hive.  He’s lost a lot of his bees to Colony

Collapse Disorder, and he hopes the isolation of our area might help

preserve new hives.  There’s a lot of speculation about the cause of

CCD.  Two of the main suspects are the Verroa mite and pesticides.

One pesticide, Clothianidin, marketed by Bayer CropScience as

“Poncho”, has already been banned by three of the G-7 nations.

It’s still legal in the U.S. and Canada, even though a recently leaked

EPA document describes it as highly toxic for our busy buddies.

Bee preservation might not be sexy to anyone other than the queen

and her drones, but pollination is crucial to agriculture.  I urge you

to add this to your list of Things to Worry About.

Frank has treated some of his hives for the mite, but the first one he

brought here is not.  He felt good enough about the health of that hive

to bring in ten more.  We’re happy that we might be part of the solution.

We might even get some honey out of it.  It’s reassuring to see the bees

around the farm.  They are hilarious when they get intoxicated on our

sunflowers.  I don’t know if they’re mean drunks, but we’ve banned

weapons in the gardens.  We don’t want any more of them getting hurt.

  1. January 24, 2011 3:15 pm

    “This is exactly the type of job I dreamed of in high school, except for the retirement plan.”

    Allen – You crack me up!

    • January 26, 2011 11:48 am

      That’s why I’m here, Coach.

  2. Meghon permalink
    January 25, 2011 9:43 am

    Your granddaughter loved the photos of the bees! We did recently sign our names to a petition for the ban of the pesticide you mentioned, but we’ll see…you know how it goes down here in the US.

    • January 27, 2011 8:00 am

      And the bees keep asking for a photo of her. Is she back from her marathon sleepover yet? Thank you for signing that petition.

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