Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Difficult Year for Honeybees
Written by Robin Forde for the Summer 2014 Issue of Wagner Tales

The honey bee is a prehistoric miracle, developed in concert with the equally ancient flower upon which she depends and serves. Those seemingly frivolous petals and that tiny creature, each fluttering and tossed by the gentlest breeze seem so fragile, but their mutual attraction weaves the world as we know it together.
As a honey bee works through flowers, she is gathering nectar with a special structure in her head, not unlike an elephant’s trunk. She is also collecting pollen with her body. Research has shown that honey bees accumulate a slight positive charge as they fly through the air – the friction of the breeze on the golden fuzz that covers most of her body creates a static charge. The pollen adheres nicely. She has specialized structures to sweep the pollen and push it to her back legs, where more structures produce the familiar little yellow, white, cream, or even blue saddlebags of pollen.

This past winter was a hard one for honey bees in the upper Midwest. The Polar Vortex brought colder winter temperatures for longer periods, and kept our spring along the shores of Lake Michigan cooler and cloudier than usual. The fruit tree blossoms were few.  Most “chose” survival over fruit-bearing. Where blossoms did appear, the chilly days kept to bees at home so fruit harvests were reduced, sometimes to none. Even all these millions of years later, the flowers still miss the honey bee and the bees falter without their flowers.

We are feeding some of the Wagner Farm bee hives to ensure their survival through the 2014/2015 winter season and at this time, we do not plan to bottle any honey for the Wagner Farm store. We hope our thoughtful management will keep the bees in good shape for a productive 2015.