The Value of Christmas Trees

"...there is no reason why the joy associated with the Christmas evergreen may not be a means of arousing in the minds of children an appreciation of the beauty and usefulness of trees; and keen appreciation of the beauty and usefulness of trees is a long stop toward the will to plant and care for them (Arthur Sowder, US Forest Service, 1949)."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Issues with Bees

The Jefferson Post printed the following article today, "Beekeepers report unprecedented losses." It just so happened that I spent today with Brad Edwards and Travis Birdsell working in our beehive at Omni farms! We've had the hive set up there since June of last year. All three of us were impressed with how strong that hive is. The following photos were taken today (April 8, 2013).
The bees bringing in pollen from maples. Photo: Travis Birdsell
We had to put up a mouse guard. Mice damaged about 5 of the frames which we
will probably have to replace.
Lots of bees when we opened the box. Photo: Travis Birdsell
It's all about making babies. The capped cells have bees that will soon emerge.
Photo: Travis Birdsell.
In many ways, Fraser fir Christmas tree production in western North Carolina helps both honey bees and native bees. Growers leave ground covers that bloom. This provides forage for pollinators as well as bringing in predators which help reduce Christmas tree pests. But this also brings an added responsibility to the grower to protect honey bees if they are actively visiting ground covers when an insecticide treatment is necessary. For ways to protect honey bees see Fraser Fir Pest Control Portal: Tips for Keeping Bees Safe.

The causes of beehive losses are complex. A good website which reviews the multiple causes is the USDA website called Honey Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder.

Keep looking for more information on this project as we are putting bees out in tree fields in Alleghany and Avery.

There's a lot of people to thank with this project including Wiley Gimlin and Omni farm for hosting our bees; Shelley Felder with the Honey Hole in West Jefferson for her technical advice about beekeeping; the NCCTA for grant support; all the extension folks -- Brad Edwards, Travis Birdsell, Jerry Moody, Meghan Baker, Jeff Owen and Jeff Vance for their assistance with this project; and Logan Williams who was key in identifying native bees collected last year. Information about the pollinator study can be found at The Pollinator Study.