Expert gives the buzz on art of beekeeping
Honeybees are making a comeback after being harmed by two mites.
By MONICA BOND
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
BAZETTA -- Honeybees, like so many Americans, trace their history back hundreds of years to Europe.
"Honeybees first came to the United States in 1620, the same year my ancestors came," explained Gary Prindle of Newton Falls during a beekeeping demonstration Wednesday afternoon at the Trumbull County Fair. Prindle is secretary for the Trumbull County Beekeepers.
Honeybees fascinate people, Prindle said, and they are the only insect that makes food for people.
Honeybees also pollinate many crops, a job that was done in the United States primarily by wind before the black and yellow pilgrims arrived. Other bees pollinate, but not as well as honeybees.
"There is no true substitute between honeybees and other pollinators," he said.
Unfortunately, honeybees have recently been decimated by the Varroa and Trachea mites, Prindle said. So many bees have died, there haven't been enough to pollinate sufficiently, but the bees are slowly making a comeback. Some crops have suffered, particularly almonds in California; 75 percent of people's food comes from pollination, Prindle said.
About the bees
Honeybees will travel a two-mile radius from their hive to find pollen and make a direct "bee-line" to the source.
Unlike other bees, they work together gathering pollen. They all go to the same source, which allows beekeepers to have specialized honey.
"This makes them the most important pollinator in America," he said.
In addition to pollinating crops, honeybees make three sticky substances: propolis ("bee glue") used in their hives; honey; and bee's wax, explained Prindle's friend, a Hubbard woman who preferred to be called "Merry Bee."
The mites are not the only honeybee killers; the bees also die if they do not have enough air or if temperatures are too extreme.
"Overheating will kill them more likely than cold," he said.
Prindle said honeybees' main concern is survival. Each bee has a particular job, which changes throughout the course of their lives.
"The idea is to save the bees, not kill them," he said. "We're working with the bees to ensure their long-term survival."
Prindle considers beekeeping something from which one can always learn more.
"Beekeeping is not a science so much as an art," he said. "If you're not learning something new every year, you're not beekeeping."
Merry Bee explained these lessons are not limited strictly to beekeeping.
"They give us a lesson how to take care of our mothers, how to gather food," she said. "They have guards at the entrance to protect their family, and they are very clean. There is no bathroom in the hive."