Beekeeper Shares the Importance of Honeybees

By: 
JENNA GILBERT
Staff Writer

At their Tuesday meeting, the New Bremen New Knoxville Rotary heard from Mike Doseck, past president of the Greater Grand Lake Beekeepers Association (GGLBA) about the important role honeybees play with food production and the issues facing them.
According to GreenPeace’s website, since the 1990s beekeepers around the world have noticed a decline in the honeybee population. Since 2006, 40% of the commercial honeybee population has declined. Doseck noted that in California, almond trees are being hit heavily by the decline. He said there aren’t even enough bees to bring over to California to help pollinate the trees.
“If we did not have the bees … a third of our food would not be available to us today in the quantities that we know because of honeybees,” he said.
There are a few problems plaguing bee populations today. Varroa mites were one that he noted as a bigger issue, as well as green deserts and pesticides. The mites, he said, carry 20 or more diseases that can ruin a hive. Once a virus gets into a hive, it can be a “sad situation,” he added.
According to BeeAware.org, Varroa Mites are a small external parasite that feeds on the host, usually larva and pupae, but also adults on occasion. They can cause malformation and weakening in the honeybees in addition to the viruses they spread.
When it comes to pesticides and chemicals that are spread on farms, Doseck said he has a hard time blaming farmers for using them because he understand the necessity from living in a heavy farm community like Auglaize County. He does encourage those who do use them to pick a good time to spread.
The best time, if you’re going to apply chemicals, is in the evening,” he said. “The bees are in the hive at that time. Apply them later in the evening, it allows the chemicals to be absorbed or go down into the ground so that bees aren’t carrying those chemicals back into the hive.”
Green deserts are something he said you can see along highways where there is nothing but green that is being mowed down by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Those areas offer nothing for honeybees who need pollen to collect and take back their hives to produce honey and to feed.
Pollen is protein for the bees.
He said organizations like GGLBA and the Ohio State Beekeepers Association (OSBA) encourage local agencies to instead look into planting pollinator habitats for bees.
Doseck also touched on old trees being cut down which takes away potential homes for wild bee colonies.
“Those are some of the best bees genetically, right now,” he said. “If anyone has bee trees out there on your property, if you can leave them out there it is really good for the environment.”
Good genetics was something Doseck emphasized many times during his talk. Those genetics will keep hives strong which will help them fight back against the pests and diseases many honeybee colonies are facing.
While honeybees are facing some serious issues with their populations declining, one thing that helps is people becoming beekeepers themselves. The GGLBA hosts classes to teach individuals about beekeeping.
Usually hosted in the beginning of the year, Doseck said they around have classes with 30 to 40 individuals.
There are many ways to purchase bees, Doseck mentioned, stating that purchasing a nuke is the best option GGLBA and OSBA recommend.
A nuke — or nucleus — is a starter pack that puts the purchaser ahead with a pre-established hive. It costs around $200 and put individuals about two months ahead of someone who just purchased a package of bees.
The bees are also raised locally which means they are accustomed to the climate of Ohio and have better genetics.
Packages of bees, he said, come from Georgia which can come with a lot of issues.
“Our club discourages that because Georgia doesn’t have the same climate we have,” Doseck said. “Georgia has a lot of problems with pests, we don’t want those pests brought up into our area.”

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