On April 29th the European Union passed a 2-year ban on neonicotinoids, a systemic, neurotoxic pesticide widely used in agriculture. These pesticides are suspected of slowly poisoning the bees (as well as other insects, birds, and aquatic life). A farmer friend of mine who uses corn seed treated with this pesticide has been told by the seed producer that the pesticide only remains in the plant until it is about 4 to 6 inches tall. However, beekeepers believe it stays in the plant and is collected along with the corn pollen and slowly kills the bees. I have friends and family members who farm thousands of acres of land and rely on these seeds and on the companies that sell them. I've had conversations with them and so understand their dilemma. I guess we'll find out in the next couple of years by following what happens in Europe?
In the meantime, I can't wait for others to solve my problem. What I do know for sure is that my 1- and 2-year-old hives seem to do well and then collapse. That means until this mystery is solved, I need to make sure I always have 1- and 2- year-old hives to keep the bees going!
I would encourage other would-be beekeepers to do the same. If you get into beekeeping, make sure you begin with more than one hive and then learn how to make nucleus hives each year from your established hives (see earlier post on how to do this). Keeping these pollinators alive is important. Whatever is killing them is most likely affecting other beneficial and pollinating insects as well.
I recently read a report on robo-bees! Believe it or not, companies are funding research to create miniature flying robots to pollinate crops! I'm wondering if the funding comes from the same companies who are killing the bees while saying they're not?