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BjornBee
Apr 15th 2009, 08:05 PM
Thinking Outside the Box #2

This is an article coming out this month in the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Newsletter. I hope you enjoy.
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Some time ago, in a discussion I have lost track of, someone made the comment about the length of a blueberry contract out in the Midwest. Not sure what he was suggesting, I asked what the purpose of such contract was, being no longer than 5 days in blueberries. He went on to explain that many beekeepers in the Midwest would not allow their bees to be on blueberry pollination longer than a 5 day stretch. And if they were needed longer, additional fees would be charged to the farmer. I asked why? He commented that if the hives were on pollination any longer than 5 days, an increase in AFB would be seen, with many hives being diagnosed.

It made me do some thinking. I know blueberries require a certain ph level for the soil they need for providing the best growth and blueberry production. I wondered if that ph level could be seen in blueberry honey. And could a certain crop, by the nectar being collected, change or allow certain disease and other problems to outbreak at increased rates.

I guess everything in the hive has a ph level of some level. So what else could change the ph levels inside a hive? The possibilities could be many. What about the recent increase in acid treatments placed in the hive? Could those very treatments change the makeup and ph levels of wax, the organic matter inside the hive, the honey stores, or even the internal makeup of the bees themselves?

Iím not a fan of acid treatments. I have said many times that there is a fine line between enough acid to kill a mite, and enough not to harm a bee. I also highly disagree with those applying these treatments late in the fall, after the fall brood has been already raised and effected by the mites. And then to subject the bees to being ďagedĒ by hitting them with an acid treatment, only makes me wonder. Whether one uses these treatments is an individual choice. But my opinion is that treating prior to the fall flow is still the best option, if you choose to go down that path..

If itís true about blueberries effecting hives by allowing AFB to increase in hives, then is it so far fetched to think that maybe the acid treatments are also effecting ph levels of all the matter within a hive? I know several beekeepers in the southeastern section of the state has commented on the high levels of AFB in recent years. Seems also that in recent years, the acid treatments were being promoted and encouraged. I wonder if there is a connection.

Seems many treatments of the past were claimed to be safe. But we also know the toll that some of these chemicals have done over the years. And we can also see these same chemicals have been shown to effect queen viability, the queens lifespan, and other aspects of a hiveís health.

I donít trust marketing. I do not trust the ďsafenessĒ of any treatment out on the market today. What was once safe, has time and time again shown to be unsafe years later. What I do know, is that my hives have done rather well without the standard chemical. And I think they will do just fine without hitting the bees with an acid treatment as they prepare themselves to go into winter.

In thinking about ph levels within the hives, I also now wonder about the radiation treatments being promoted. I wonder how it changes the organic matter within the hives, as it remains after the treatment. It does not make chemicals go away, or anything else. But it certainly may change the chemical makeup, the ph levels, and who knows what else. I guess as with everything else, we will find out down the road whether it was worth it, and if it has long-term negative consequences.

Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries