honeybee colonies, hive communication, varroa mites

Local Bee Club Helps Grow Local Colonies

The Omaha Bee Club, located in a small residential area of Southern Omaha, is working together to help sustain and grow their local honeybee population. In an article posted on Omaha.com, the club’s nearly 200 members were coming together on a local residential street to claim important stock that had recently arrived from California. Every spring, members of the Omaha Bee Club worked to replenish its bee colonies and this year they have imported nearly 3 million bees to help balance their annual losses.

President of the Omaha Bee Club, Tony Sandoval, spoke to how many bees the area is losing every year. “We’re looking at 70 percent die-outs for this winter in Nebraska and 69 percent in Iowa.” Sandoval believes that a big contributing factor to these loses includes the extreme weather that Iowa and Nebraska have been experiencing over the past few decades. Other factors that have contributed to the increased deaths of honey bees include the use of pesticides and infestations of Verroa mites.

Prior to 2006, local beekeepers were only losing between 15 and 20 percent of their colonies over the winter months, a much more manageable amount than the recent 70 percent die-outs they have been experiencing. Colony Collapse Disorder, also known as CCD, has been a hot topic of conversation among the media and bee community alike. CCD is a term that has been used to describe the growing number of unexplainable die-outs of honeybees and colonies in recent decades.

CCD is a phenomenon that has been puzzling scientists for decades – Colony Collapse Disorder is attributed when groups of worker bees and entire colonies simply disappear without any indication as to why. Although this has been sensationalized in the media, Sandoval has a much different stance on the Colony Collapse Disorder issue. “There has been a lot of talk in the media about colony collapse disorder…just a lot of mismanaged information. A lot of that is sensationalized. We don’t get colony collapse disorder in the Midwest. That’s more of a national problem,” said Sandoval.

At the time of the article, Omaha Bee Club members were receiving what is known as a “queen bee package.” This package contains 10,000 worker bees and one queen bee kept in a separate compartment. Lynn Danzer, a beekeeper for almost 50 years, was helping deliver 59 packages to a local club member. “I started way back when I was 14 years old, and the die-off wasn’t so bad,” Danzer said. “The bees were hardier because they had developed in the area. We’re trying to get back to that.”

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