Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Now that was a lot of B's.

Speaking of bees. (yes, that was a lame transition - deal with it)

T and I just returned from the Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I'm sure we'll post much more on it as the week goes on, but for now - I will talk about bees.

Why? Well, I attended an all-day session on bees and pollinators. The presenters (Eric Mader and Ross Conrad) did a nice job and I found the experience to be a positive one. I entered the day thinking I might leave with some working knowledge as to how we might actually maintain a hive or two of European honeybees. Per the norm, expectations and reality didn't quite match up. But, that's largely a reflection of what I learned as opposed to disappointment in topic coverage.

The short of it (for now) is that maintaining honey bee hives won't necessarily be easy. But, I believe we have many options with respect to our goals. I think it most likely that we will not attempt to get into honey production. But, we may keep hives for the pollination of our crops.

Things I learned (or in some cases maybe relearned) that may be of interest to others:
  1. 70% of 'wild' bees are ground nesting bees
  2. All of our pollinators have been declining in recent decades
  3. Most colony collapse cases are found in commercial bee pollination businesses (who ship their bees to various farms to pollinate crops)
  4. A mix of wild bee populations and honey bee populations provide the best pollination results
This one didn't go to 11. Four is enough (for now).

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