Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

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Geek Heaven

Beekeeping is certainly for geeks. There is a ton of detail and local minutia and specifics that really do affect the outcome.

The class is nine weeks of absolute detail on honey bees. It covers anatomy, psychology, predators, preferred habitat, foodstuffs, and winter care. It's got one class just on equipment. And the initial two speakers last night were obviously completely in-love with the critters, and one warned folks that for some it wouldn't catch, but for others it was going to be more like a disease. *grin*

The class was a mixed lot. About a quarter were farmers who noticed that their beekeepers were leaving or gone. One guy had about 100 hives left on his land by a keeper that just left and had left all the bees as well, half of them had already died, so he wanted to try and save the rest. Some were folks living in the foothills who had "inherited" a swarm and wanted to do what they could to help the feral colony. One lady drove from NEBRASKA as this was the closest beekeeping class she could find. Several were from Greeley, nearly an hour away, and they were just farm folk who remembered a grandfather who kept bees so easily back in the day. Some were just housewives, fascinated by the idea and wanting a night away from the kids. I didn't say I was a computer professional, about to retire, and able to get fascinated in these things soon, now. I just said that I'd found out my neighbor had a hive and my garden had produced more than I'd ever seen it do before, which is also true.

I had no idea, until I wandered about the Net a few months back, about the bee "crisis". Mites came sometime in the mid-90's and have been decimating populations of honey bees in conjunction with some pesticides that came into widespread use. So folks here are now seeing 20-30% die-off of colonys when, before the 90's there were only 2-5% attrition rates. Commercial keepers, with those kinds of loses, have been quitting in droves, to the point where there are now no longer enough honey bees to pollinate all the crops in the US the way they could be pollinated, and production of things like almonds is getting hit really hard by it. Yes, this is part of why almonds cost more now than they have in a while, though there's other strange complications of that tale.

So, I'll admit, part of it is seeing a looming problem and peering at it. Tom Theobold was one of the teachers, and his opinion is that the only way it's going to be offset in Colorado is by encouraging the hobbiest keepers. So I might get my hive and putter about it with it and feel happy about doing something to pollinate the local areas. :-)
Tags: bees
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