50 Years of the Sustainable Apiary - Mike Palmer - What changed? | Summary and Q&A

June 29, 2023
Inside The Hive TV
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50 Years of the Sustainable Apiary - Mike Palmer - What changed?


The beekeeping industry has undergone significant changes in the past 50 years, including a shift in threats from American foulbrood to trachea mites and Varroa mites, as well as increased concerns about pesticides, especially neonicotinoids.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How have trachea and Varroa mites impacted bee populations?

Trachea and Varroa mites have had a significant impact on bee populations, often resulting in up to 50% losses in bee colonies, with dead bees found around the hives and a higher level of hive abandonment. The mites can infect and weaken the bees, leading to colony collapse if left untreated.

Q: What are the reasons behind the increased concern about neonicotinoid pesticides?

Neonicotinoid pesticides have raised concerns due to their potential impact on bee health. Studies have shown that neonicotinoids can make viruses and mites more virulent, further endangering bee colonies. Additionally, high levels of neonicotinoids have been found in pollen, which bees collect and feed to their young, potentially exposing them to harmful levels of these pesticides.

Q: How has the use of antibiotics changed in beekeeping?

With the elimination of American foulbrood, the need for antibiotics in beekeeping has decreased. However, there are still instances where antibiotics are used to treat specific infections or diseases. The focus has shifted towards implementing better management systems to control mites and prevent infections.

Q: What impact does corn and other pesticide-intensive crops have on bee health?

The presence of pesticide-intensive crops, such as corn, can have a significant impact on bee health. Bees may be exposed to high levels of pesticides through pollen collection, leading to potential issues in bee colonies, such as colony collapse. The use of certain pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, has raised concerns about their sub-lethal effects on bees, impacting their overall health and survival.

Q: How are beekeepers working to address the pesticide issue?

Beekeepers are taking proactive steps to address the pesticide issue by conducting pollen sampling to understand the presence and levels of pesticides in their environment. This data allows beekeepers to advocate for better pesticide regulations and make informed decisions to protect their bees. Collaboration between beekeepers and researchers helps shed light on the impact of pesticides on bee health and drives efforts towards finding sustainable solutions.

Q: What challenges does the beekeeping industry face in the current agricultural landscape?

The beekeeping industry faces numerous challenges in the current agricultural landscape, including the widespread use of pesticides, limited regulation, and a lack of focus on pollinator health. Climate change, habitat loss, and the spread of diseases also pose threats to bee populations. Beekeepers must constantly adapt and evolve their management systems to mitigate these challenges and ensure the survival of their colonies.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Beekeeping has changed drastically in the past 50 years, with the biggest threat shifting from American foulbrood to trachea mites and Varroa mites.

  • The use of antibiotics has decreased with the elimination of foul brood, but now new challenges arise with mites and viruses.

  • Pesticide use, especially neonicotinoids, has become a growing concern, with evidence showing their impact on bee health.

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