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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper! Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Delaplane Speaks on CCD



Last night Dr. Keith Delaplane spoke to the Metropolitan Atlanta Beekeepers Association on Colony Collapse Disorder. Lucky me, I got to go out to dinner with him before the meeting and we had a lot of fun, talking about bees and life in general.



Delaplane is heading up a consortium grant involving 17 colleges and universities. The grant is a four year, 4.1 million dollar grant to study CCD. The studies are focused on determining the cause of CCD.

Delaplane said that there are three major pathogens being studied: viruses, nosema, and pesticide residue. Other factors being considered are an increase in bee pollinated crops and at the same time a decrease in beekeeper managed hives. In other words, as there are less beekeepers in the country, the almond pollination needs are rising.

I've always wondered why almonds were the benchmark crop. Delaplane explained that it is a valuable nut that is currently fetching a premium price. Pollinating an almond is a simple event in that a single pollen grain on a single stigma equals one nut.

As most of you know, beekeepers rent out their hives to the almond growers. There is a bias in beekeeping toward migratory beekeeping because there is so much money in it.

The migration begins when hives are rented to the almond growers. Then migratory beekeepers might load up those hives and go to the Dakotas to get a honey crop from clover; go to Michigan to pollinate the blueberries; and then migrate to Florida to pollinate the orange crops.

Honey yields go through the roof with migratory beekeeping, so there's an ongoing reward for beekeeping in this way. This migratory circuit is typical of American beekeepers but not found in other parts of the world.

In general the bees gather nectar and produce honey during a short period of the year. In Georgia we have a 6 - 8 week honey flow. Then the rest of the season is spent conserving the supplies to make it through the winter. The migratory bees don't get a break but go from honey flow to honey flow.

Currently there is an ongoing study project comparing 30 bee colonies which stay in the same place with a group of 30 USDA colonies which are migratory. Hopefully some understanding of the impact on bees of migration will be the result. I tried to find a reference on the web for this and couldn't.

Delaplane referenced a wonderful study on PLOS ONE which he encouraged us all to read. That this open source study is available to us non-scientists is a real gift. This study looks at the interaction of stress and pathogens on bees and CCD.

He also encouraged us to search regularly on the website: eXtension.org, using bees/honeybee/bee as a search terms. This is a site maintained by the land grant universities and gives all of us commoners access to the latest research being done by land grant colleges and universities on bees.

For example, if you go to this article, you'll see on the right a number of other articles that may have a similar focus and may be of interest to you. Or try this concentration area on Bee Health.

I'm a little scared of this site because I think I might get lost in all the interesting reading and not come up for air!

As always, Dr. Delaplane was full of helpful information and useful pointers. I can't wait until he returns to our bee club next year.


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3 comments:

  1. Hi Linda! Thank you for the interesting links. I hope Dr. Delaplane's studies will yield some answers for CCD. Did he say if it has subsided this year or increased?
    Very interesting about the almond pollination.
    We had unusually chilly weather last night here in Virginia, and I found two chilled brood larvae on one of our landing boards. Poor girls! Next week promises to be warmer, if the forecasters are correct.

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  2. Yes, he said that in 2007 and 2008 the rate of CCD loss was 30% and that this year, I believe he said, was 28% - so not a significant change. I'm not 100% sure of that and didn't write it in my notes.

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  3. Good to know it's not catastrophically worse, at least.

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