What the toll of the mites means to consumers is the reduction of many valuable crops and a dramatic rise in honey prices.
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF NATIONAL HONEY BOARD
News briefs on wild bees attacked by mites and the threat of a decreased bee population, news on women who fish newsletter and information on the National Tour of Solar Homes.
To Bee or Not to Bee
Imagine a world without bees. Now imagine that same world
without flowers, without honey, without strawberry plants.
What most of us don't realize and what beekeepers have been
saying all along is that the fate of this tiny buzzing
insect affects us in many inexplicable ways. Next time a
bee advances annoyingly close to you, don't swat at it. The
sad truth is: wild bees are in trouble.
The decrease in bee populations is in no way sudden. What
has been an ongoing problem is the result of wild bees attacked by mites, there being two predominant types of mites: varroa mites (V. Jacobsoni) and tracheal mites (A. Woodi).
While beekeepers have had some measured success in mite
controls, it is the wild honeybees that are suffering the
The smallest of the two mites is the tracheal mite. It
lives in the breathing tubes of adult honeybees and sucks
their blood, causing adult bees to become disoriented and
weak. The best known control for tracheal mites is a
menthol treatment in the spring when the weather is warm
and in late summer or fall of the year immediately
following honey extraction. For a homemade treatment,
enclose fifty grams (1.8 oz.) of crystalline menthol in a
7 inch by 7 inch plastic screen bag or equally porous material and
place inside the colony for 20-25 days. If daytime
temperature does not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, menthol should be
placed on the top bars of the colony; during hot weather,
it is better to place it on the bottom board. There should
be no honey supers on the hive during the treatment, and
the menthol should be taken out of a colony at least a
month before any anticipated flow.
The varroa mite, originating in Asia, has spread to almost
all parts of the world and is especially destructive to
honeybee colonies. The adult female mites attach to the bee
between the abdominal segments or body regions, and so are
difficult to detect. The varroa mite attacks bees at their
pupae, larvae, and adult stages, causing deformities like
shortened abdomens, misshapen wings, and deformed legs, and
eventually leading to death. Beekeepers are currently
fighting the varroa mite with Apistan chemical strips
placed in the hive at set times of the year.
What the toll of the mites means to consumers is the
reduction of many valuable crops and a dramatic rise in
honey prices. Honeybees pollinate some 90 different crops
in the U.S. including melons, squash, broccoli, almonds,
strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. An estimated
one third of the world food supply depends on insect
pollination, either directly or indirectly. As the bee
population decreases, many fruits or vegetables might be of
such poor quality or low quantity that they will disappear
The results of an International Bee Research Association
conference held last October showed that an integrated
approach combining several methods of control is most
successful. Beekeepers should also deal with infested
colonies immediately, lest they risk the possibility of
contamination to neighboring hives, according to the
American Beekeeping Federation.
Keeping in mind that bees are essentially nature's great
pollinators, Dr. Leonard Feldman, president of the pest
control company Whatever Works, is promoting the sale of
Orchard Mason Bees. According to Dr. Feldman, "The Orchard
Mason Bees are wonderful for pollinating apples, pears,
cherries, and almonds. In addition to being effective
pollinators, they're non-aggressive and quite safe to
propagate in the suburban and urban backyards. They require
minimal attention." While Orchard Mason Bees are not honey
producers, they are also not affected by the mites that are
felling honeybees. To order a tube of Orchard Mason Bees
for $29.99, contact Whatever Works or
write them at the Earth Science Building, Brooklyn, NY for a catalog.
For further information on mites and/or bees, contact the
American Beekeeping Federation at Jesup. The Honey Producers Association
can be reached in Cheshire, CT.
Women's Reel News
Women have been fishing for 500 years. Yet Women Who
Fish, which premiered in September, is the first
mainstream publication dedicated solely to female anglers.
Lyla Foggia, publisher and editor of the newspaper and
author of the book REEL WOMEN. The World of Women Who
Fish, says, "Fishing for women is about more than
catching fish, which is why this publication is long
Women Who Fish aims to address the sport from a
woman's unique perspective. According to Foggia, "Men and
women look at fishing in entirely different ways. For men,
it's more of a non-personal, scientific method to the
sport, whereas for women, it's more emotional. A study done
in 1996 showed that a majority of women fish to be with
family and friends, and not because of the attraction of
big fish." Foggia promises that Women Who Fish
will be a very "emotional" newspaper—one unlike the
more than 100 publications currently in print that examine
just the how-to's of fishing. For example, every issue will
feature "Meditations from the Heartland"—excerpts of
women fishers' experiences and thoughts on the sport, guest
columns by women in the sport, coverage of noteworthy
events, notice of conservation and public service projects,
and book previews.
For an annual subscription of 4 quarterly issues, send a
check for $12.00 to WOMEN'S REEL NEWS, Welches, OR. For additional information, you can send an e-mail to ReeIWomen @ aol.com .
The National Tour of Solar Homes
The sun should be shining brightly on October 18th, 1997.
No, it's not the latest development in long-term weather
prediction. That's the day solar homeowners across the
country will be opening their doors to the 5th annual
National Tour of Solar Homes, sponsored by the American
Solar Energy Society (ASES), the U.S. Department of Energy,
and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. The tour will
include over 500 homes in more than 36 states.
According to Susan LeFever, communications director at
ASES, the goal of the tour is best relayed through this
year's theme, "Real Places for Real People." Her hope is
that people will start to see solar power as a clean,
efficient, and inexpensive energy source, rather than some
futuristic or high- tech idea. "Solar power has been
portrayed in the past as too expensive, too technically
complex for the average home, or aesthetically unappealing,
but attitudes are changing as more people see first-hand
what it's about:'
Clay Turnbull, from Townshend, VT, showed his home last
year and is planning on doing so again in October. He
noticed that most of the tour-goers were interested in
living in solar homes, but for different reasons. Turnbull
says of his own decision: "I personally wanted to leave as
small of a footprint as possible on this earth. I was
willing to assume the responsibility of energy
Tours generally include anywhere from five to fifteen
homes, depending on geographic location. Local tours will
be organized by Local Coordinating Organizations
For information about showing your home or attending a
tour, email the American Solar Energy Society at ases @ ases.org.