Is beekeeping getting harder?

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I think trying to make a living with honey bees is most certainly getting more difficult.
When I started 50 years ago, the worst thing that could happen was AFB. Very little
of that ever. No real issue burning a few hives. Now, I never see the disease. Of course Acarine and Varroa changed everything.
I deal with that. Lose a little bit, gain a little bit. But in recent years, the annual losses are getting scary. 2014-2015 2% loss. 2015-2016 6% loss.
2016-2017 40% loss. 2022-2023 60% loss. My oldest apiaries that used to be the best for production are no longer so.
Maize everywhere. Pesticide level in trapped pollen is deadly. Trapped pollen in 2023 had 10.75 ppb of clothianadin maize neonic. 1 % is high enough to see measurable damage. This pollen was trapped in May when maize is just up 6". No maize pollen. It's coming from the surrounding fields that have been poisoned by maize planter dust, and migration through the soil into wildflowers in adjoining fields and meadows. The Dandelion pollen had 4.5 ppb...at 5 ppb the researchers say we lose half of our queens.
350 ppb of Metolachlor...a pre-emergent herbicide for grasses. Seriously?? And why is it that I can hardly keep my bees alive?
If you believe the propaganda that honey bees and beekeeping haven't suffered severe setbacks in the last 10 years, I have a bridge in Brooklyn
for sale. Sorry for the rant but my bees are dwindling before my very eyes, and I see their life force slipping away.
The fields adjacent to my apiary are used for intensive grass production for silage and for a digester to produce energy. The fields are regularly blitzed with Roundup and reseeded, then after each cut, the slop from the digester and slurry gets dumped on the fields. (Four times last year).
Here’s a pic showing the dandelion opportunity for my bees this year….
83110B7E-2F36-49BC-B0E7-92D784AEA546.jpeg
 
The fields adjacent to my apiary are used for intensive grass production for silage and for a digester to produce energy. The fields are regularly blitzed with Roundup and reseeded, then after each cut, the slop from the digester and slurry gets dumped on the fields. (Four times last year).
Here’s a pic showing the dandelion opportunity for my bees this year….
View attachment 39838
The intensive silage/hay production trend does bug me. I hope there will be a trend toward mixed forage in it in future, which adds the wildlife value. There's also good arable land being used for it instead of food rather than traditional meadow land for the forage which I think is a concern from a food sufficiency perspective.
 
The fields adjacent to my apiary are used for intensive grass production for silage and for a digester to produce energy. The fields are regularly blitzed with Roundup and reseeded, then after each cut, the slop from the digester and slurry gets dumped on the fields. (Four times last year).
Here’s a pic showing the dandelion opportunity for my bees this year….
View attachment 39838
I was going to respond with a laughing emoji, but then I realised it would be inappropriate.
 
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The intensive silage/hay production trend does bug me. I hope there will be a trend toward mixed forage in it in future, which adds the wildlife value. There's also good arable land being used for it instead of food rather than traditional meadow land for the forage which I think is a concern from a food sufficiency perspective.

Our neighbouring farmer cuts silage from the fields around us in late Spring/early Summer. Once the grass has started to regrow nicely he puts his cattle out on them. Because of the way the weather is changing however, he's using less and less silage, I assume because the grass is growing later at the start of the Winter and earlier in the Spring. He just seems to be backing up bales and bales of silage in his yard. Every year there's more and more left by the time they can go onto fresh grass.

He doesn't seem to stop or cut less though. It's almost as if he doesn't know what else to do, or is convinced that at any point soon everything will go back to "normal" and he'll need it. I assume he can't sell the excess because everyone else is in much the same position.

James
 
“Don’t cast a cloot till May’s oot” in Orkney :)
Absolutely Lindsay - 5 or 6 layers of thick clothing!! Was there fishing in the past week and with the weather we had on Tuesday, Wedneday and Thursday I did think about you and the beekeeping challenges there on Orkney. Our group have been going there for 13 years now and this was pretty brutal for fishing - easily the worst we have had over those years. Had to stop early on two of the days. The rain squalls and a 20-25mph wind and temperature hardly above 10C the whole time on Swannay. I take my hat off to you for keeping your bees so successfully there. However we did catch a lot of trout 152 in the 2 days we got out and all returned. A quantity of beer and whisky was consumed in the bar at the Barony Hotel in an attempt to warm up (successful). If you all out there don't know Orkney has the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet. They have time for you and have a pace of life which seems to escape us in the south. Can't wait to be back next year whatever the weather.

Interestingly on Orkney there was quite a bit of the rough roadside clover out but have seen none at home in Somerset so far. Daylength perhaps?
 

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