Saturday, October 9, 2021

Pollinator Conversion Ratio

Did I catch our attention or scare you away with this blog title (Pollinator Conversion Ratio)?

If you are a little dubious, let me start you off with a nice picture.

It doesn't happen all that often, but I managed to catch a honey bee in mid-flight (without it being just a blur).  If you look in the center-left of the picture you can see one approaching the flowers.  There is another honeybee on a flower just to its right.

Remember, you can click on pictures to see a larger version.

Managed and Unmanaged Workers

It's always good to see our "managed workers" actually getting out and doing their pollen collecting and pollination work at the Genuine Faux Farm.  But, if you look closely, you might find some other "unmanaged workers" also in these flowers (look at the center of this picture).

Our managed workers would be, of course, our honey bees that reside in the three hives we have at the farm.  Tammy is actually the "manager" and Rob is the "support staff."  And, a large part of the support I provide is planning and working to provide payment for the workers work...

Did that make ANY sense?  Sometimes I wonder about the author of these blogs.  I should have a good talk with him and straighten him out!

Our pollinators, whether they are wild or not, need food and opportunities for shelter throughout the season.  That's why we maintain wild areas, leave clover and dandelions blooming, and plant many annual flowers each year.  Most wild bees are ground nesting, so it is important that we have areas on our farm that are not tilled.  Some bees make homes in hollow stems, which is part of the reason we purposely leave piles of brush in various selected locations.

The domesticated bees, on the other hand, have these nice, box houses that we provide as their homes. With a little bit of maintenance on our part, they have a better chance to survive the winter months - and we get an added bonus of a little honey for ourselves.  The honey part has become a bit more important over the last year and a half because Tammy has become bread-baker extraordinaire and she uses honey in that tasty bread!

And, yes, Rob also likes honey ON that tasty bread.

Learn Something New

Here's where we can all learn a little something that might be new to many of us.  Did you know that there are several types of domesticated honey bees?  Some of the most common in beehives found in the United States would be Italian, Russian and Carniolan.  This site breaks each group down into characteristics such as their gentleness, over-wintering ability and pollination skills.

Our bees at the farm are most likely Italian honey bees.  Aside from the visual similarity our bees have with the pictures on the site I linked above, we happen to know that our workers are still making brood into the fall months (we looked).  They are also fairly docile and good honey producers.  All in all, it seems that Italian honeybees are the easiest for "beginning" beekeepers to handle.  Even though we have had bees on the farm for some time, we still feel we land in the beginner category.

And this site provides a similar summary (without the pictures).  What catches my attention here is that there is ongoing work to breed for new strains that might be able to handle mites or various diseases.

Evidence of a Pollinator Conversion Ratio

I might have frightened some people away with a veiled reference to something mathematical in the title.  But, I was just using my creative license to show you this.

What's that?  You want to SEE my creative license?  You want to know who ISSUED my creative license?!?  

Ok.  Ok.  You got me, I forged it.  But, I'm still going to use it until they lock me up.

Bringing you BACK to the photo above.  Here is evidence of our pollinator conversion ratio.  The presence of both domestic and wild pollinators on our farm resulted in excellent production per row foot of our cucurbit (vine) crops.  This is one reason why we maintain bee hives.  This is why we work to provide flowering plants for as much of the year as we can.  And, this is why we maintain wild areas on our farm.  

Have a great weekend!  Now I'm going to go out and say hello to our friendly bees.

Maybe one will pose for another picture?

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