Another day, another great report on honey bees here in the United States. A local beekeeper in Maine has reported that this season appears to be better than most. Peter Cowin, a.k.a. The Bee Whisperer, has checked his hives post-pandemic and he likes what he sees. Cowin stated, “As a state we’ve done very well, 35% losses is the best we’ve done in some time. Previous three to four years will be more like 45% losses.”
The losses in Maine are not quite as low as some other states, but a 22 percent decrease in loss is nothing to sneeze at! There was some concern that an early bloom would have added to the problems honey bees are already having, but that was not the case. Cowin stated, “Once the weather improved, we’ve had a very good flow of nectar and lots of pollen, so the bees have been able to grow very well.”
Like everyone else, Maine beekeepers are facing challenges such as the Varroa mite that are just decimating hives around the country. Maine also has a colder climate, so we definitely expected to see losses larger than southern states where we have seen reports with loss rates in the 20s and below. Mites, however, seem to be a particular concern of Cowin, who during his interview showed how he tests for mites, showing their presence in his hives right now.
Lowering the Varroa Mite Threshold
Cowin admits there is simply no way to eliminate the mites from the hives completely but testing regularly and taking preventive measures can limit their destruction. Judith Stanton, the vice president of Maine State Beekeepers Association, agrees, stating, “There is no way you can absolutely obliterate every single mite, there is various ways you can deal with them.” She later added, “It’s really hard to get rid of them 100%, If you can keep below the threshold you bees usually can overcome the mite’s influence on the bees and you can keep your give healthy.”
Helping the Bees
Cowin also offered up some tips that everyone can use to help the honey bee populations around their homes. He stated, “Let the grass grow a little bit longer, and let those plants like clovers and dandelions grow…the produce a huge amount of nectar and pollen just when the bees really need it the most.” He also noted that as a result of so much news now dedicated to the plight of the honey bee, he has seen more and more people getting into beekeeping as a hobby. He stated, “A lot of bees were dying, so it brought a lot of interest to the hobby of beekeeping.”
Source: News Center Maine, Photo via News Center Maine Video Screenshot