The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bee mortality

Open super of honey beesI hear from a lot of people that they're leery of trying to keep bees because of Colony Collapse Disorder, so I was intrigued when our teacher yesterday explained that only about 10% of hive death in Virginia is due to CCD.  On the other hand, he says that about 30% of new hives don't survive their first winter, due to factors including disease and lack of food reserves.  (That makes CCD responsible for the death of a measly 3% of Virginia's new hives each year, in case you're having trouble with the math.)

Of course, you can counteract some of the non-CCD factors by feeding your bees when you first get them (3 weeks is apparently the magic number there, not a few months as I previously noted) and then feeding them again if necessary in the summer lull from July to August.  You can also deal with a lot of pest problems by keeping an eye on the hive --- the layman's term for integrated pest management practices.

This is me holding a drone. In case you were wondering, drones don't sting....

I read somewhere that caring for a hive of bees will take more time than your cat but less time than your dog.  That was obviously written by a dog person --- Huckleberry and Strider definitely take up a lot more of my time than Lucy.  I'd put it differently --- bees will take a little less time than chickens --- about an hour a week per hive.  If you're thinking of taking the plunge on a small, backyard scale, I say go for it!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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