Most of my New Years’ days have passed without resolutions. This year, I resolved, would be different. Along with the typical (exercise more and eat less), the necessary (write more), the obvious (finish that grad degree), the impossible (learn Hungarian), and the vital (be a better person), I have a smattering of resolutions related to my main avocation.
I aspire, after 50 years among the bees, that I will be a better beekeeper. That is, a beekeeper who is more aware of the environment that honey bees occupy. It took me a long time to realize that there are more kinds of bees than just bumble bees and honey bees. There are at least 20,000 species, many as different as cats and dogs. Bees are suffering from climate change, urbanization, landscape fragmentation, chemicals, exotic pests and diseases. Unique, irreplaceable bee species are becoming extinct at an accelerating rate.
My work at the University of Calgary involves research on possible detrimental effects that keeping urban honey bees may have on native bees. There are almost certainly some ill-effects. Are they subtle or are they extreme? Can they be mitigated? Will beekeepers – with their advocacy of greenspace and elimination of chemicals – be allies of native bees, or will the honey bees they keep ultimately destroy our indigenous bees?
My 2021 goal, fortified by related resolutions, is to more clearly understand the interactions of honey bees and native bees, weigh their impact, determine some recommendations and relay the information without exaggeration or bias. I hope I succeed.
Hi Ron, I send you my best wishes for the new Year. I’ll be very happy if you share your knowledge about native bees, I’m very interested in them after attending the Entomology course of the University of Alberta, and discovering the existence of many species of native bees! As usual I can’t wait to ready your blog..thank you very much for sharing.
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Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the entomology course. They do a good job up there at UofA.
Please keep in touch and let us know the next steps in your bee adventures!
Forgive me for being forward, but there’s is some interesting non-bee research out. Google ISRIB.
I was first made aware of the impact of honey bees on other pollinators two years ago at our county beekeeping conference. I spoke to our committee and tried to put the point across that perhaps may not be the best thing to be accepting so many new people into our ranks on our yearly course, I made the point that we are perhaps helping to saturate the area with honey bees which may dominate the forage around. This I am afraid fell on deaf ears.
Instead of trying the quell the enthusiasm of others I have decided to take a different approach. I spotted a bypass which had been planted with many wild roses. All were spindly but had been producing quite a few blooms. I spent an afternoon pruning these back all along this bypass in order to increase the strength of the plants and encourage more blooms in the summer. I figure that this I will offer more forage for all pollinators, but also the production of rose hips will increase. I have harvested some of these hips in order to make some melomel but not stripping each bush but only selecting from the whole road so as not to deprive the birds of winter feed. I hope this small action will help, perhaps you and your readers can promote this type of guerrilla gardening to help the environment! Oh…that Asian Hornet does not look like what we in the U.K. would identify. Asian Hornets have bright yellow forelegs…this may be a mutation.
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Hi! Thanks for your comments. I like your ‘guerrilla gardening’ idea. I know that we can all do more of this. Here in Alberta, Canada, bumble bees cover our wild roses in July. Maybe it’s the same in the UK? Everything we can do, even seemingly minor, helps the less common wild bees.
Meanwhile, I love the magic, beauty, and pleasure of working with honey bees. I’ve seen it help mentally challenged folks and economically disadvantaged people. However, we have seen far too many people persuaded that beekeeping is good for the environment and necessary to “save the bees.” Those nice people should be steered away from beekeeping and toward preservation of rough land, seeding native flowers, and advocating for natural greenspace and elimination of chemical applications.
A worthy resolution indeed, Ron. Thanks for sharing, and all the best bringing it to fruition. My wife and I gave up on resolutions a couple years ago, and we now come up with a “word for the year” each December. For 2021 my word is “Cultivate”. There are a number of tasks I listed out for the coming year, and this word for me speaks to building a better future one task at a time. Hope you continue to feel better and continue to share your thoughts and research here. Happy New Year!
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