Letter: Bee tips for the summer

Bee tips for the summer

Dear Editor:

There has been many news stories this spring concerning honeybee losses. Commercial losses for the 2012-2013 winter are expected to be in the 40 to 50 percent range. This is a global problem and affects Colorado as well. Beekeepers have to makeup these losses through extra management, expense, and time. You might imagine what the impact would be if 40 percent of the livestock industry was lost in a year.

The Western Colorado Beekeepers Association would like to encourage every citizen to help the honey bees — and other important pollinators — by doing three simple things.

1. Plant more flowers. Bees, and other pollinators, love flowers! Flowers love bees! Each is integral to the success of the other. Around here, most of the flowers that bees love are also drought tolerant, too. An added bonus! Not sure what to plant? Consult your local nursery or garden center for advice on seeds and plants.

2. Use pesticides sparingly and carefully. Bees fly up to three or four miles from their hive and, as a result, are exposed to lots of these products. Too many, as it turns out, and it is a contributing factor in these staggering losses. Put away those pesticides and while you are at the nursery, talk to them about bee friendly practices and products for your lawn and garden.

3. Swarm season is here! Swarms are extremely important to Colorado’s beekeeping community as they represent “survival stock” — the bees that have survived a Colorado winter. Swarms are quite gentle but can be quite disconcerting due to the sheer number of bees within them (on average, about 10,000). Do not hurt a swarm! Call the Tri-River Extension agency to report a swarm and have a beekeepers come and retrieve it. Or call me.

4. If you can’t keep bees yourself, encourage others to do so and encourage municipalities to enact bee friendly regulations. Part-time beekeepers and hobbyists tend to maintain their colonies in a more natural way and often have better survival rates than the commercial growers.

Thank you for your help. Encourage your neighbors and friends to participate, too. Together, we can improve the health of bees and pollinators in our own communities.

Gary McCallister

President, Western Colorado beekeepers Association