Douglas Farm

NJ Honey and Bees


The Mystery of Bees Deaths

Posted by douglasfarm on October 15, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Recently, the NY times posted an article saying they have found the main cause of CCD. Sadly, the magic cure was more smoke than reality.

I'm sure most beekeepers are aware now, that there will never be a magic cure for our death issues. Still, the general public may not, so another cause of public miss conception.


So many things kill the bees; a beekeeper needs more of a bee first aid kit or large (health) tool box, not a Bee Health Improver 6000.


***Bee health improver 6000 upgradable to 9000 via additional purchase of a firmware software upgrade, to be released 2 years after the 6000, but really 3 years due to the government approval process taking the blame for a delay actually caused by a marketing VP promising something a year before the engineers said they could finish.***


So the article that questions the Times article is:

Jerry Bromenshenk, is described as having a conflict of interest in his work / publication. He is said to have been taking money from Bayer, a maker of pesticide, and ignoring the linking issues of pesticide.


Additionally, Jerry is also said to be working on a sensor to ID situations based on the sound / buzz being generated by the bees, a second conflict of interest. This sound monitoring idea is not new and I know of a few high tech beekeepers in the country working on similar projects. It is based on the knowledge that the sound of the hum changes in different situations, similar to that of a group of people. At the start of church everyone is talking to each other, but after the start of mass the room's sound / tone has changed. Or if you prefer, think of the sound changes of a crowd at a game played in a large stadium.


It is my contention that a good beekeeper can train his ear to identify the sound correlated situations, and we don't need a sound based weather rock.


A weather rock is a Boy Scout weather telling device, but more of a joke. A rock is hung from a handmade tripod. When the rock is wet, it is raining, when the rock is cold, it is cold out, when the rock is covered in snow, it is snowing, if the rock is moving / shifting it is windy.


A remote status device might be helpful to beekeepers who keep their hives at farms miles apart. I don't see such a device ever being made due to liability. If the monitoring device says everything is good, and the hive dies or goes to near death or worse the whole yard of hives dies, the company making the device would be hit with a liability law suit.


We may however at some point see a robot that can open a hive, move parts around and inspect hives as it transmits video and sound back to a beekeeping command center; similar to todays bomb disposal robots. The only thing I don't see it able to do would be transmitting smells, important as the smell of a hive is a great tool to ID disease issues. Yet, this robotic remote beekeeper would enable the older beekeepers that can't lift hive equipment, to still contribute to the operation. Still, many older beekeepers tend to be set in their ways and resist new technology more than youth.


Additionally my thoughts are skeptical of Jerry, as the picture of him shown on the article shows his bee trailer having entrances painted different colors. One hive entrance is painted white the same color as the trailer. Now I'm sure even some entry level beekeepers have found information of painting hive entrances.


It is not the color that bees see the best; their vision best sees contrasting visual patterns, like flowers. So visually the best sign for an entrance should be something like a blue triangle above a hive entrance, then a yellow circle, and then a black square all on a white surface, the bees would clearly see the contrasting geometric shapes.


However, bees are very smart and good at what they do. I strongly question those beekeepers who say similar hive entrances increase honey robbing and drifting. I'd like to see the data from a study testing that, but right now it stands unverified.


For reference, the front page NY Times article is:


Categories: Honeybee Health Issues & News, Honeybee Research

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