Like Living Only on Twinkies

Jan 20, 2011

Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, makes seven good points in his piece on honey bee health published in the Jan. 18th edition of The Daily Green.

Scientists, he writes, don't know what exactly causes colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, brood and food stores.

But Flottum says, all this research on what ails them provides insight on what will help them. He lists seven key maladies that may be contributing to CCD.

One of them is poor nutrition.

"Honey bees forced to dine on only a single source of pollen have problems. Imagine living for a month on only Twinkies. The first one is great, the second good... the 123rd is disgusting, and, you are slowly starving to death. When researchers looked closely at the diet for our honey bees, they saw the problem and today--after four years--there are almost a dozen healthy food choices on the market we can feed our bees (including Megabee and Nozeivit, sold by Dadant; Ultra-Bee, sold by Mann Lake; and Feed Bee, sold by Ellingsons’s Inc.) That's progress. (But look at your grocery store and see how many kinds of dog food there are... wouldn't you think hard working honey bees should have the same choices?).

Flottum advocates diversity in the diet--and rightfully so.

"Make sure bees have a diverse and varied diet. Many floral sources are needed for a healthy, wholesome, season-long diet. And make sure those flowers have not been sprayed with the new insecticides and fungicides that are so detrimental to the young. And feeding bees is a good idea. Use one of the newer substitute diets available from the supply companies and feed whenever there's a food shortage or lack of variety. It will only help."

Check out the other six maladies contributing to a honey bee's poor health. We're all in this together, and together we can improve their health.

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

THESE HONEY BEES are faring well at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey Bees

EDITOR Kim Flottum of Bee Culture with a cluster of bees used by Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, in a bee wrangling stunt.  (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Kim Flottum