by Ben Sallmann, BIP Honey Bee Health Field Specialist, Northwest US
At the end of the day, beekeepers want to know that their bees are healthy, well-fed, and prepared for the next season. Fall is a critical time for beekeepers because the condition of the bees now will determine the winter survival rate and the number of colonies available for almond pollination early next year. The photo above was taken at daybreak on the plateaus of western Idaho, where the bees worked the canola fields earlier in the summer. These bees have been left with good winter stores and sampling showed low varroa mite counts. They will soon be moved into sheds where they will stay until the almond bloom is about to begin.
The Field Specialists from Bee Informed Partnership are busy throughout the fall providing what some like to call “peace of mind” sampling to beekeepers in the program. Knowing that their mite treatments worked and their bees are relatively varroa-free is worth a lot to beekeepers who lose a lot of sleep worrying about their bees’ health. There are times when our sampling shows that mite levels are still stubbornly high and another “mop-up” treatment needs to be squeezed in before winter sets in. At least in these cases, the beekeepers then have the information they need to take action before it’s too late. Ignorance is not bliss for a beekeeper!
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