Good News for Michigan Honeybees

Around the Bend, photo by Daniel E. Johnson

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the number of Michigan honey bee colonies is on the rise:

The number of honey bee colonies in Michigan rose about 16 percent over the last year. About 25,000 colonies existed at the beginning of 2016 in a census of operations with five or more colonies, according to the National Statistics Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. The comparable number on Jan. 1, 2017, was 29,000 colonies.

Varroa mites were the primary stressor of Michigan colonies over the last five quarters. They affected only 5.9 percent of the state’s bee colonies in the first quarter of 2016, but 64.1 percent of colonies in the third quarter of 2016. The Varroa mite is an external parasite that attaches to bees and weakens them.

The total number of bee colonies in the U.S. sank slightly during 2016, but held relatively steady at about 2.62 million colonies.

Colony Collapse Disorder symptoms were observed in more than 84,000 bee colonies in the U.S. from January through March 2017, a 27% increase from the same quarter of 2016.

View Daniel’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Snowdrops and a Bee

Snowdrops and a Bee, photo by Trish P.

Trish took this Saturday on the Leelanau Peninsula. View the photo bigger, see more of the same in Trish’s In the Garden slideshow, and follow her at trishy_p on Instagram!

More flowers and more from the garden on Michigan in Pictures.

Bringing the Busy Bee back to Michigan

the-busy-couple-of-bees

The busy couple, photo by Jiafan (John) Xu

John writes that this photo was taken at a small pond with pink lotus and some other water plants at the Michigan State University farm in Novi, Michigan. That segues nicely to this Greening of the Great Lakes interview with Dr. Rufus Isaacs, bee researcher and professor in the Department of Entomology at MSU about what we can do to make our farms and gardens better for bees.

He (Dr. Isaacs) believes the use of pesticides, disease and reduced natural habitat from the development of land for residential and agricultural purposes have made it difficult for the over 400 different bee species native to Michigan to survive and pollinate.

Among other things, Isaacs and his colleagues hope to expand spaces for wild bees to thrive close to farmland. His strategy to improve pollination sustainability involves luring wild bees to farms so producers don’t have to rent commercial honey bees. By planting wildflowers and using bee-safe pesticides, farmers can become less dependent on high-cost and out-of-state honey bees to pollinate their crops.

“We’re supporting those bees with pollen, nectar and a place to nest, “ he says. “That’s boosting those wild bee numbers to help honey bees when it’s bloom time in the Spring.”

Similar procedures can also be done on a smaller scale to increase pollination and mitigate bee decline. Isaacs explains that home gardeners can look to resources like MSU’s Smart Gardening program to attract pollinators to their fruit and vegetable plantings.

Click through to listen!

View Jiafan’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.