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Thread: On bees

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    Politics.ie Member Malbekh's Avatar
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    Default On bees

    Some years ago I was on a fruit farm in north county Dublin, which was cultivating strawberry plants out of season in plastic tunnels for the multiples. We were discussing a lot of issues, mostly multiple related, when the talk revolved around the more technical aspects of fruit growing.

    It was the first time that I stated to understand the real importance of pollination, because the 'farmer' was using imported bumblebees to propagate his crop. In this particular instance, the advantages were that the bumblebees worked in relatively cold temperatures and operated in twilight hours, both very useful in an Irish climate.

    So on a wider level did you know that bees, and honeybees in particular, pollinate the following crops: apples, pears, tangerines, peaches, soybeans, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, avocados and almonds?

    In US terms, this is equivalent to $15b worth of crops. The US, in terms of bees is a basket case. On average 30% of hives have died off over the last three years owing to a variety of reasons, the most serious being Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD.

    In CCD, the hive adults just simply vanish leaving the queen and a few hatched young workers. What makes it more unusual is that the hive remains untouched by neighbouring ones, who normally would plunder the honey and resources of hives affected by parasites and diseases.

    As the bee genome has been completed, scientists researching the issue have identified differences between healthy and unhealthy colonies. It turns out that most of the various camps were right, although on a limited basis. So in other words the factors involved are viruses, fungi, pesticides, varroa mite and nutrition. Essentially, honey bees are under attack form all sides because increasingly they are operating in an artificial environment.

    In the rest of the word, honeybee propagation of commercial crops is estimated as €215b. In Europe, CCD in conjunction with the varroa mite has decimated hives, but the carnage is far worse in the wild and native colonies. The dreadful effect of this is to reduce the pollination of wildflowers which in turn reduces the quality and quantity of honey produced.

    Here in Ireland, where bees are reckoned to contribute €85m to the economy, the last three summers have been disastrous for our native and bred colonies. The key period of growth in hives in late June and July have coincided with the worst weather imaginable. The varroa mite has still to work its way through the existing colonies leaving behind more resistant strains.

    In terms of a functioning population, our bee colonies are dying. There is very little or no commercial beekeeping in this country as we cannot compete with the more commercial and weather friendly countries in Europe, Australia and South America. All that remains is a steadfast group of hobbyists determined to maintain an ancient and essential tradition. CCD has yet to effect this country, one can only hope that our diverse spread in agriculture will ensure this won't happen.

    So what can we do? I don't expect you all to become apiarists, but for those of you that have gardens or terraces or patios, think a little about what plants and flowers you will grow next year. Put a little time and effort into creating a wild area for flowers, or just plant flowers that are rich in nectar and bloom in the more productive months.

    Bees are like canaries in a mineshaft, we need to take heed the damage we are causing to our environment.
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    What flowers do you recommend for nectar etc malbekh?
    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malbekh View Post

    So what can we do? I don't expect you all to become apiarists, but for those of you that have gardens or terraces or patios, think a little about what plants and flowers you will grow next year. Put a little time and effort into creating a wild area for flowers, or just plant flowers that are rich in nectar and bloom in the more productive months.
    are there any particular varieties or plants that you can recommend?
    "Even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn’t, they don’t certainly know that although you probably wouldn’t there’s no probability that you certainly would". Sir Humphrey Appleby, Yes Prime Minister

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    Politics.ie Member spidermom's Avatar
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    They love my lilacs.lavenders,roses and the flowering cotoneasters in my garden...I grow lots of calendula,poppies and aquilega in the summer!

    Trouble is I think so many turned their gardens in to the low maintenance...with grasses and the like...can't imagine the bees like it somehow(???)
    When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity.

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    I am onboard with this, have plenty of space and garden to plant..Love bees and love honey..

    Good thread and thanks for it..

    I also feed all the wild birds that are also struggling to keep the numbers up

    EM
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    Good OP. Experts agree that the human race would last just three years if bees were extinct! I do an impression of a crazed reiki therapist with a frog in his pants if a bee or wasp come near me! Much to the delight of passers by I might add. But the strange thing is, I have actually seriously considered the commercial side of bee keeping. With global bee population declining and human population increasing, the demand for pollenation from bees will surely increase. If any one has any ideas on the commerical side of beekeeping I would be interested to hear from them.
    The signs are there, increased homogenised and unhealthy environment = increased occurences of CCD.
    Same can be said of the decline in the native frog population, another sign of environmental decline.
    Last edited by EUrJokingMeRight; 11th November 2009 at 12:49 AM. Reason: afterthought!

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    Moderator beanie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by He3 View Post
    What flowers do you recommend for nectar etc malbekh?
    Here's a guide to bee friendly gardening.
    Guide To Bee-Friendly Gardens - Home

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    Politics.ie Member Malbekh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by He3 View Post
    What flowers do you recommend for nectar etc malbekh?
    There's two I always plant no matter where I live. The first is lavender as it blooms at the right time and is a mass of activity all day. The second is buddleia or butterfly bush. It's a bit late in the season but fantastic for butterflies (duh) like Red Admirals and Peacocks, particularly if you've allowed some nettles to grow at the back of the shed.

    Heathers are great as well. But the best one I've seen I don't know the name of. It's a climber, very vigorous, and has small white lightly scented flowers. The flowers are very small but they bloom over a long time, and the bees just swarm over it all summer long.

    It's relatively common, but annoyingly I've never been able to find it in the local DIY stores.
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    Politics.ie Member spidermom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malbekh View Post
    There's two I always plant no matter where I live. The first is lavender as it blooms at the right time and is a mass of activity all day. The second is buddleia or butterfly bush. It's a bit late in the season but fantastic for butterflies (duh) like Red Admirals and Peacocks, particularly if you've allowed some nettles to grow at the back of the shed.

    Heathers are great as well. But the best one I've seen I don't know the name of. It's a climber, very vigorous, and has small white lightly scented flowers. The flowers are very small but they bloom over a long time, and the bees just swarm over it all summer long.

    It's relatively common, but annoyingly I've never been able to find it in the local DIY stores.

    Climbing Hydrangea???
    When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity.

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    I leave half my land (approx 1 acre) wild and i have planted a lot of flowering shrubs, I love the amount of insects and thus birds this attracts, I also keep some chickens and am happy for the non crows to share the food and chick crumbs.
    I have considered keeping bees but will need to do some study, I don't particularly want to "farm" them, just provide a home and let them get on with it. Is their some way of encouraging them to set up naturally in a tree or shed?
    Cira/rira Not in my name.

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