Colony Collapse Disorder solved. Well, I guess it’s been solved all along. The organic beekeepers experienced little, if any colony collapse disorder. Happy bees.

Jacqueline Freeman is the author of an upcoming book “Bees, the OTHER Way”. She points out the different strategies that conventional bee keepers might try to save their hives from colony collapse disorder.

Throughout the video I count off the first twelve. There are several more points that ended up on the editing room floor. For that stuff, make sure to visit the discussion at…

12 things to prevent colony collapse disorder:

#1 general approach: use organic practices
#2 general approach: strengthen bee immune system instead of “attack and kill” what nature uses to remove weak bees
#3 don’t use insecticide (for mite control or any other insect problem) inside of hives – bees are insects!
#4 allow bees to create their own cell size (typically smaller) – no more pre-made foundation or cells
#5 genetics based on “survival of the fittest” is superior to genetics resulting from mass production where the weak are medicated
#6 swarming is the natural way to good genetics
#7 local bees have adapted to challenges in your area
#8 stop moving hives
#9 feed bees honey, not sugar water
#10 feed bees polyculture blossoms, not monoculture
#11 stop using insecticides on crops – bees are insects!
#12 raise hives off the ground

Don’t feed bees honey that you find in the supermarket. The USDA has shared information with Jacqueline that “the honey that was at the supermarkets had spore in it for some of the diseases that can get passed around.”

Migratory beekeepers moves hives all over. An example would be to move them from the orange blossom flows in florida to the almond blossoms in california and up to the blueberries in minesota.

A quick solution for farms needing pollination: plant lots of other things in the area so you can keep bees in one spot all year.

Conventional bee keepers use insecticides to kill mites on the bees. The bees are insects too. So the challenge then becomes how to apply the insecticide so that you kill a lot of the mites while killing only a few of the bees. Unfortunately, the bees that live are now much weaker.

Conventional bee keepers use plastic frames with cells pre-made, or foundation with the cells already started. These cells are slightly larger than what the bees normally would build for themselves. The idea is that a bigger bee can haul more honey. Unfortunately, a side effect is that the bee gestation is now a little longer. And that longer gestation facilitates mites.

If you are doing just three or four things from this list, the bees can usually cope with that. But when you do six or more, you should expect colony collapse disorder.

In 2010 the rate of hives lost to colony collapse disorder is about 40% per year, every year.

In the video, I interviewed Lance Sundberg of Sunshine Apiary and Bob Barnes of Beaverhead Honey Company. Both of these guys were really great. You can really tell that Lance is a pro at getting interviewed (CBS with Katie Couric, New Yor Times, National Public Radio). I hope that they soon shake off their problems with colony collapse disorder. I really like Lance’s story of getting started in the eighth grade with a hive from sears.

Per Lance:

“Montana ranks fifth in honey production.”

“The almond industry in california is who really runs the bee business in the united states, more so than even the honey production anymore. 1.6 million colonies are just for that one crop. 60% of all bees in the united states go to do that one pollination.”

“Will agriculture anymore, compared to 30 years ago, monoculture style beekeeping is way more prevalent now than it was back then.”

“We used to medicate once a year for varroa mites and now it seems like we have to do it more like three times a year.”

Lance mentions a product for controlling mites that he says “are the most common ones still used and they’re not legal.”

Photo credits:
Vitalia Baranyai (luscius honey comb at 1:05 and 9:01)
USDA (mites 1:53 1:59 2:05 2:34 2:38 comb size 2:43)
Brendhan Horne (plastic frames 2:17 2:21 sugar water 8:57 plastic foundation 2:24)
Jacqueline Freeman (swarm 3:03)
Holly Wolfe (swarm 3:31 3:45)
Marisha Auerbach (truck 4:06)

Bee-come a treatment free beekeeper here!