Save the bees, honey

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013

“The places I’ve seen where hives are swarming have very little radio frequency interruption, ” Crissey said.
“Bees have a navigational system that relates to the magnetic fields of the earth, and they use that as a mapping trajectory. Radio frequencies can disrupt the magnetic fields, and then the bees can’t find their way back to the hive.”

A tiny parasitic mite, varroa destructor, has been accused of causing collapse, but Crissey said he thought it was unlikely to be the culprit here in Polk County.

“When we open up the hives, we’ll find the queen there, laying eggs, and nurse bees taking care of larvae,” Crissey said. “These bees will be starving to death, though, in no mood for foraging. Very few bees will be there. If these bees suffered from an infestation of mites, we’d find more dead bees in the hive.”

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When bees swarm, it means they’ve outgrown their hive. It’s a sign of good health for the bee population, as they’re looking for a new home.

“I remember the first time I saw bees swarm,” Crissey said. “It was a tornado of bees, 40 feet tall and 15 feet through, flying to the top of a poplar tree.”

Crissey and his wife, Pamela Meyer Crissey, have written a book titled Common Sense in Uncommon Times. They have some thoughts on what could help. Beekeepers with collapsing hives ought not mix the collapsing hives with healthy ones, they recommend. They also say abandoned beekeeping equipment may harbor ill health. The real solution, though, may run deeper than these simple steps.

“Polk County could be in the forefront of creating real change,” Crissey said. “We can figure out how to make a difference.”

The meeting at the Crystal Creek Center will be a chance for local beekeepers and others to learn more about the problem and what solutions exist as Polk County finds itself facing a national nightmare for bees.