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:
- 70% of 'wild' bees are ground nesting bees
- All of our pollinators have been declining in recent decades
- Most colony collapse cases are found in commercial bee pollination businesses (who ship their bees to various farms to pollinate crops)
- A mix of wild bee populations and honey bee populations provide the best pollination results