We share this photo with humbleness. We loss our first colony this winter. If you take a good look, you will see a terrifying number of Varroa Mites. We marked some of them but couldn't mark them all. Despite constantly staying on top of our mite counts; treating as
soon as thresholds are met, and following guidelines as to treatment during the winter... it has been the worst year for mites we have ever seen. Many hear that earth is losing it's bees. This is a major reason why. Tranquil Hive has had a 100% over winter success rate. Going into this winter we knew that it would be unlikely. Mainly because the mites were horrible this past summer despite everyone's best efforts. Sadly, this is the result.
Varroa Mites were first discovered on the Asian honeybee in 1904. However, these bees had built defenses to them and did not succumb. In 1987, they were introduced to European honeybees in the US. European honeybees have no defense against the mite and they are considered the most devastating parasite in existence. They introduce other issues such as deformed wing virus and parasitic mite syndrome.
So is losing 1 colony out of 200 a big deal? Well, there are about 50,000-60,000 bees in a good colony. Have you ever seen that many bees pollinating your garden? Probably not. Most people would panic if they saw that many in one place at one time. While many stay in the colony to perform various duties, one-third leave to forage and pollinate. That's 18,000 bees that would normally pollinate on any given day. Let's do more math...
One bee makes about ten foraging flights a day which, on average equals 1,000 flowers pollinated. 18,000 bees (bees that are now dead), equals 18,000 flowers that will no longer be pollinated. Food that will no longer grow. And that is just in one day. Over the average of their 8 week life span, that's 144,000 flowers that could have turned into food. Food that could have fed thousands. That is just one colony in a small town in CT.
Bees don't just contribute to over 75% of the food that we eat. Cancer drugs contain products from flowering plants pollinated by bees. Beeswax is used during surgical procedures to prevent bleeding from bone surfaces and bee venom has shown to be effective in reducing tumor growth.
So, does losing one colony matter? Does one bee matter? Should we, as a nation put more effort into solving the problems bees face? You decide.