Bjorn Apiaries
Rock the boat, step on toes, and pull back the curtain.....

Beekeeper Rants, Thoughts, and Opinions.

2009 - 2010

This page is a collection of articles and letters written over the years. Some were part of the "Thinking Outside the Box" series that was submitted to the state newsletter. Please keep in mind that the material, data, and opinions were formed with information at the time of the writings. Some ideas and information may be found to be incorrect over time as new information becomes available. But we offer them in their original format


The following is offered and designed to promote thought, encourage debate, and perhaps touch upon subjects other will not touch.  We hope you enjoy.

The $1250.00 Dollar "Sellers" Fee for Breeders.


December 2010


In a time when the bee industry needs more sideliners and start-up bee operations to replace the aging older beekeepers of the trade, do you think a $1250.00 fee on every small operation would be helpful? I certainly do not. But that is what some are proposing. And it is coming one small step at a time, with the first steps already being taken in small $25.00 increments.


It was once stated that for every 100 beekeepers getting into the bee industry, 3-5 would grow to a sideliner status, while less than 1% would actually get to what we would consider a commercial level. The idea holds true in one respect. Most bee operations start very small, then grow into larger operations. Not many started overnight with 5,000 colonies, or raising thousands of queens.


But as an industry, are we really encouraging small operators to grow and contribute? If we look at some of the restrictive laws and regulations on the books, it would seem to indicate an unwillingness of some states to facilitate this.


North Carolina is one state with a 25 dollar fee for a one time per year "sellers permit" fee. For a state that has no actual registration of hives, North Carolina is also one of the only state that require a bee breeder to pay an annual fee for the right to ship a single queen into North Carolina. In a recent discussion with a top official in the bee industry from North Carolina, it was commented that North Carolina could be the southern border for the progression of Africanized Honey Bees. Northern folks who want to over winter bees, or those wanting to purchase stock in AHBs free ranges, may see North Carolina as a prime state in the future to do business. North Carolina has many beekeepers, and some small producers. But they lack any large suppliers.


What would be the impact for micro-breeders and small startup operations, if a yearly $1250.00 fee was imposed before their first queen was shipped? Do you think that would hurt small operators with demand or a market outside their own state? Yet, if every breeder was hit with a $25 fee as they are in North Carolina, each breeder would need to cough up $1250 every spring to get permits if all states had these same "seller" permit fees.


In the same conversation with the official from North Carolina, it was also stated that there should be a push to raise more of their own stock and buy more northern strains of bees. They may well benefit from bringing in bees and stock from the north as opposed from the south. So who are the operations that pay for the right to service customers in North Carolina? For 2010, the operations who have paid the sellers permit fee include 7 from Georgia, 1 from California, 1 from Hawaii, 1 from Texas, and 1 from Kentucky. Seems to me even if a North Carolina beekeeper wanted to order northern stock, they can not.


Some may argue that North Carolina is just a good old boys program. (No fees for producers within the state) And maybe the whole system is designed to promote beekeepers to buy from within the state. I feel bad for the North Carolina beekeeper who may want to buy outside his own state. At this time, they have few options within the law. I know I will never buy anything from a state that imposes penalty fees on me to do business within the state. And when the other 49 states do not charge this fee, it is hard to justify it or rationalize it. It is what it is....bad policy. So far, it only promotes honest North Carolina beekeepers buying from a very slim supply, all from the south.


Another state, Delaware, does not have seller fees. But for a bee breeder to sell in Delaware, the breeder must have been inspected within 60 days of the sale. And the seller must have on file with the state apiarist, the paperwork 30 days prior to the actual pickup of the bees by the buyer. This allows the state (Delaware) to issue an "Import permit" to be issued to the beekeeper who must have this on-hand prior to picking up any bees from outside the state. And they even go as far as requiring the inspection report to note the bees are AHB free. Something my state apiary program does not certify.


Maybe Delaware is blessed with a cup running over of inspectors who actually get around to all the certified breeders every 60 days. I doubt it. I know Pennsylvania does not. We get 2 yearly inspections. And with the state budget cuts and less inspectors each year, getting two inspections a year is stretching it. For me to be inspected every 60 days, and have these inspection certificates on file 30 days prior to the pickup date for each customer from Delaware is logically impossible. Does Delaware care? Not really. They do their share of conveniently "finding" a local supplier for the beekeepers who actually try to go through the red tape and headache of playing by the rules. So Delaware beekeepers that I know who order from me, do one thing. They keep their mouth shut. And then they pick up the bees without dealing with the archaic Delaware state policy.


There are a couple other states out there with prohibitive policies that inevitably fail to do what they intend, which is always the case. It promotes beekeepers not reporting who they are buying from. Or it systematically promotes the larger operations to benefit and the smaller operations to be limited. Expecting any state to have their producers inspected every 60 days, or slapping on seller fees does little. And if every state took on the policies of what North Carolina and Delaware has in place now, small producers will be hurt, but not as much as the beekeepers within these states.

Does North Carolina or Delaware have any less problems with disease in their state? No. It is not good enough I can produce a inspection certificate from my own state. They want to place additional terms and requirements to producers outside their own states borders. For what benefit? Beekeepers will always go around sneaking in bees.


Beekeepers in these states should understand that if they want to possibly grow a bee industry inside their own state, that demand from outside their state, will play a major role in their success. And if every state took the same positions as their own state, business would be stifled.


If beekeepers are not really benefiting from these archaic state requirements, who is? Maybe the state inspectors, the state apiarist, or others are benefiting from these programs. Do they need to come up with "lines in the sand" to fend off "ghost" problems, making issues out of nothing, while protecting a few jobs with false justifications?


I feel sorry for the honest beekeepers in some of these states with restrictive laws. For you to not have the ability to buy a queen from outside your own state due to some official protecting their job with outrageous policies, is sad at best. Not one case that I am aware, could be made by some disease being transferred by a queen in a cage. Maybe as more beekeepers in these states actually grow and build their own bee operations, they can appreciate the freedoms that others enjoy without the good old boys network or restrictive policies. In the meantime, I'll be working with those beekeepers tired of dealing with their states bee law and being told from who to purchase a queen. 


Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries


Trashing an Industry And Then Prematurely Claiming to Save It


November 2010



Change I guess for most comes with apprehension and doubt. It is easy to stay where you feel comfortable and successful. But what about when that change is forced upon you, with no options. Apprehension and doubt can, for some, turn to anger and resistance.


In the bee industry, many changes come about when for financial or economic gain. Or it becomes forced upon beekeepers due to failing business models. One year, we as an industry do not want anyone looking and testing honey. The next, we push for new honey standards. One year, we move around secretly using chemicals in our own hives, the next, we are pointing fingers at chemical and pesticide companies making threatening comments of litigation.


So I often wonder why these changes come about. Are they good? Are they for monetary motives? Or are they the path that is most likely taken in the evolving world around us?


One area, where changes are being suggested, is in queen rearing operations. In an article from Bee Culture (Nov 2010) page 23 (written by Nick Calderone and Steve Sheppard) entitled "Build a Better Bee", under the Managed Pollinator CAP section, the following appears:

"Stock Certification The recent report by the National Research Council of the National Academies - Status of Pollinators in North America - recommended the establishment of a stock improvement program and the implementation of an independent stock certification program. A certification program will greatly facilitate the success of the breeding program because it will provide consumers with assurances that they will purchasing superior stock and will provide producers with an economic incentive to invest in the development of those superior stocks. This will come at a cost, but stock certification is a common practice in plant and animal breeding where it has been used with great success. When you consider that there is already an enormous cost being paid in terms of poor queens, diminished colony health and colony replacement, the cost of selected stock and certification should be competitive.

Tech Transfer Tech transfer provides the mechanism for successfully moving from theory to practice. Techniques for stock selection, stock maintenance and queen production are well established and can be developed into a viable breeding program. The success of any such program will require cooperation among commercial queen producers and experience in large scale queen production, researchers with expertise in selection protocols and mating programs and extension personnel who make recommendations to beekeepers. Towards this end, CAP (Coordinated Agriculture Project) personnel are working on a Bee Breeding and Stock Maintenance Manual for commercial breeders and queen produces."


Also in "The Pennsylvania Beekeeper" , which is the newsletter for the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association, dated October 2010, page 7, entitled "PA Queen Project" is an outline for a new queen program for Pennsylvania. It includes setting up training, collection of bee samples, where "researchers" will develop and participate in a "Standardized Evaluation Program", develop acclimatized and regional stock, and give back stock to state breeders with protocols and standards in place.


All of a sudden, it seems like a movement is underway to standardize breeders both nationally, and by a state by state approach. The way I read it, we have a problem with poor queens. Never mind that some of these problems are probably due to pesticides, viral and disease issues that nobody can control at the moment. And for all the money we are wasting in bad queens, we should be happy to use that money for certification fees and other regulatory matters, while allowing the industry to be regulated.


So where are the beekeepers? Why is not the business model of free trade not allowed to thrive? Of course once CAP sets national breeder certification, any breeder not in the program will be harmed. Breeders will be forced to follow the same standard protocol to which all breeders will be held. A massive cookie cutter approach at best. I wonder if it will be much better than getting your dog certified. Any dog owner willing to pay a fee can get a nice certificate. It sounds nice, but it is worthless just the same.


I have always been one to think that if I produce bad queens, people will buy elsewhere. If I have a good product, people come back, and my business thrives on referrals. I have confidence in the consumer to dictate demand and reward those that produce good stock.


I am not going to be dictated as to my breeding protocol. I will not go along with giving up my freedom in my business models to researchers or other regulators who think they know better than the beekeepers in the field doing the work.


I took the initiative in 2008 to bring together northern breeders to improve breeding efforts. This is how the NSQBA (Northern States Queen Breeders Association) came into existence. I think the best people to improve genetics and breeding protocol are beekeepers. The NSQBA is an association that assists queen breeders, and is free to join, with minimum requirements. I am opposed to any group that wants to dictate, certify, regulate, or force standards or protocol upon individual beekeepers. I for one, am not willing to be controlled or to have standards thrust upon me and justified for additional fees based on others saying we need to give them control to save ourselves. And once we start down that slippery slope, costs for everyone, breeders and the buyer, all pay the cost.


The problem we have in the north is too few actual breeders. It is not about protocol or not being able to breed good bees. Northern breeders and anyone who took the time to raise their own queens, know the success and higher quality queens being produced. Having universities or some central structure in place will not build the industry. Nobody is going to invest 50,000 dollars in a queen business just because of a queen certification program. The demand is already there. Northern breeders are inundated with orders every year. So what is to be gained from a business standpoint? Will more and more hobbyist beekeepers raise queens? That is something I fully support and have stated for years. I have been holding classes and assisting others in queen rearing for years. But being mandated by protocol and certification processes, with higher costs, are not the way to grow individual businesses.


Certification processes, protocols whether mandated or not, and state or higher level control, usually means the larger operations benefit, while the smaller operations suffer. I think there is something fundamentally wrong when the industry can not handle problems and must be saved by Stock Certification and Tech transfer policies, and turn over marketing and management to "researchers".


I have never felt the need to label myself with some sought after title such as "Master Beekeeper" or call my bees "pure" this or that. I have relied on my customers satisfaction, and good management protocol, to promote and produce the best queens over the years.


I feel there is a larger force at play here. And control of the breeding industry is at play. Additional research funding, justification of entomology departments, and ultimately control of the bee genetics or "certification" process, are at play, disguised as the solution in which we are going to be saved. And this is being promoted before one queen has actually been produced. I've seen some promoting the above programs state "We will produce a better queen, and improve the genetics, thus providing the consumer a better product." What gall and audacity to state this without producing one queen, while trashing those that are on the front lines busting their butts already. 


Others will jump at bee protocols, certification, and paying additional fees, in attempts to get a leg up on the industry. I'll be watching to see how this plays out. And at least for the foreseeable future, I'll be enjoying doing what I know to be correct to produce great queens. It's all there in the books, from drone yards, to hygienic testing. And I see no reason to give up my individual initiative and personal program by others who "think" they know better.


I know people are eager to tell me what to drive, what to eat, how to live, and at what my temperature should be set in my home. But it seems the higher authority types and the "we know better" crowd is now coming after the bee industry. A real shame.

Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries




Africanized Bees in Georgia


October 2010



Since the first arrival of africanized bees being found in Hidalgo, Texas in October 1993, there has been many questions on the topic. How far will they spread north? Will migratory beekeepers speed their spread and impact? Are they dangerous as many claim? And will their genetics be a benefit to the many problems within the industry.


With the recent discovery of AHBs in Georgia and the unfortunate recent stinging death, these questions, which have been suppressed with the recent events of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), will no doubt resurface.


How unsafe are Africanized honey bees? Since their arrival to the U.S. some 18 years ago, less than one death per year has been attributed to AHBs. Statistically, you have a better chance of being killed by lightening. Yet the publicity and hype over AHBs is no doubt expressed on the highest levels.


Some states were on the path of "Best Beekeeper Practices" just a few years ago. Suggestions of new regulations and requirements were being made. Justifications for propping up sagging funding and support for state inspection programs were being presented. What better excuse for funding state inspection programs and entomology departments then the dangers of AHBs moving into the area. I attended the "Africanized Honey Bee PR Training" at Penn State in August 2006. Coincidentally, this was just months before the announcement of CCD hitting the scene. Have not heard much about AHBs since.


But this new stinging incident will no doubt start the conversations again. AHBs in Georgia will be downplayed by the bee industry as this is "Package Bee" territory. Never mind that these deaths and stinging incidents are almost always from unmanaged colonies. The death in Georgia was from AHBs living in a wood pile.


Will they spread north? Left to their own devices, AHBs will slowly spread north to a point that the colder regions will not allow them to survive the winters. Mainly this is the result of their small cavity selection, drastic swarming rate (up to 18 times per year), and lack of needed honey stores. But allow AHBs to infiltrate managed colonies by the industry letting down it's guard, and AHBs will survive very nicely in hives with adequate stores. Over-wintered AHBs have been documented in several northern states. Throw a bunch of AHB hives on a truck, and the spread can be overnight thanks to migratory beekeepers.


So what is being done? Some states have eradication policies for feral (unmanaged) colonies. But nature abhors a vacuum and fills it very quickly. This eradication policy may justify inspection programs and funding for this continual task, but it basically is ineffective. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is finally looking at justification of banning further imports of honey bees from overseas due to disease issues. A little after the fact when the damage may have been done, but they are attempting a half-hearted effort now. Can we expect any possible stoppage of the movement of AHBs in this country? Not likely. Although we may not be able to stop the inevitable natural spread of AHBs, we could stop the spread of mail order bees and trucks spreading AHB by migratory beekeepers and package suppliers. But that is not likely to happen either. While I appreciate efforts to stop the spread of disease, it makes me wonder how many deaths would it take to make an effort to stop the spread of AHBs.


Why stop or even attempt to stop the spread of AHBs? Some suggest that AHBs are superior and have traits favorable to bee survival. And that may be true. I do find it ironic that many who suggest these positive traits are from areas where AHBs are already established and they can do nothing about it. Accepting the natural progression of AHBs across the land is one thing. Having them spread for commercial and financial gain is another.


The impacts of AHBs will be many over the years. They include:


Suppression and elimination of feral stock and other genetics. Whenever AHBs come into an area, all other genetic material is chocked out. Over a very short period of time, AHB dominate, and we lose any feral genetics. A constriction of the gene pool is not good for any species. This limits the breeding pool and quite possibly genetics in the future that may be beneficial to future disease issues.


Local ordinances and new restrictions on beekeeping. If this recent stinging incident and death happened in a northeast town or city, you can bet that there would be some consideration and ramifications over the discovery of AHBs. Would all this be justified? Probably not. As mentioned, you have a better chance of being struck by lightening. And these AHB deaths are always from unmanaged colonies. Not from colonies and the very beekeepers who would be under pressure when such an attack would occur.


As it is now, nothing will be done ahead of time. Not until someone uses the situation to fund a bee lab, an inspection program, or finds some other financial motivated means of getting involved. The bee industry will proceed as usual. Maybe the dangers will never reach a point that anyone really gets around to doing anything other than killing all the feral bees in any area with the perception that they are doing all they can. Maybe one death per year is the cost of doing business, and should be expected. Or maybe the industry is just burying it's head in the sand, while attempting to not step on toes or create hardships while praying we don't have another stinging incident anytime soon.


For me, I question why there are written "Best Beekeeper Practices" and new justifications for the day we have AHBs here. Yet nothing is really being done to stop the spread ahead of time. I guess maybe as in politics "You never let a catastrophe happen without taking advantage of it." And maybe this just hasn't gotten to that point yet. Lets hope it never does.


Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries



Are Farmers Smarter Than Beekeepers


September 2010



Did it ever occur to you that many beekeepers, even sideliners, are not traditional farmers? Did you ever wonder why a fruit or vegetable grower is happy paying for honey bees to pollinate their crops, instead of just getting bees themselves? I started wondering why farmers, or at least fruit and vegetable growers, did not keep bees to do their own pollination.


Lets discount those full time migratory beekeepers who are essential to the pollination needs of those mono-agriculture mega-sized operations. And lets just focus on the smaller fruit farms and farm market operations. Lets see why so many of these farms are just as happy to have you place your hives on their property, then actually get into the wonderful world that we call beekeeping. This discussion will be about those beekeepers who keep bees on farms and charge a yearly fee. It seems many farms are now diversified with varied crops needing pollination throughout the year. So what should be a good yearly charge? Several things must be considered.


The first thing is cost. Lets get past the initial cost of equipment and start-up costs. For this, we will just look at the yearly expenses, of say, 10 hives in the use of pollination.

Lets say you inspect your hives on a monthly basis. With extra trips to the apiary to super, do spring inspections, fall prep, and so on. Lets say you spend two hours per visit, counting prep time, travel, etc. And lets assume you look at the hives 12 times per year, averaging out more during the spring, and not so often through the winter. So we are at 24 hours of labor for this apiary. To keep it simply, lets pro-rate this at 25 dollars per hour. So your time equates into a cost of $600 per year to manage this 10 hive apiary providing pollination.


We can assume you have treatments, feed, and other costs, of 30 dollars per hive per year. This 30 dollars gets eaten up fast factoring in a few bags of sugar when the fall flow is less then expected. So that would be another $300 total for the ten hives.


And we can not forget about the winter loss. Lets suggest you average 40% loss over the years. Not too good in what we want, but probably much better than most actually have in losses. So, how do you replace these dead out hives in time for pollination needs? Packages are $85 each. Queens for splits, 20 dollars per queen. But then you need to split existing strong hives, diminishing honey production, or running up the costs of extra manipulations and apiary visits. So factoring in the ease of dumping in packages, or the more time and labor costs or splits, lets just figure it at $85 each. So those dead four hives add up to $340 per year.


Before we get too far into this, lets tally up our expenses on these ten hives so far. The total is $1240 dollars. But we still have vehicle costs, equipment replacement costs, and a host of easily forgotten associated costs. Lets just assume it totals up to $40 per year, per hive. And if you really kept tabs on your actual costs throughout the year, it may be very well much, much more. But for this "ball-park" approach, lets just total it up for another $400 in costs. So now we are up to $1640 for this 10 hive apiary.


Now the benefits of these 10 hives. Can you average 50 pounds of honey per year for every hive you have? I bet some wish they could. But 50 pounds is a nice number to work with. So 10 hives, 50 pounds each, for a total of 500 pounds. What is the profit on 500 pounds of honey. Factoring in your harvesting time, extracting, bottling, material costs such as bottles, labels, taxes, etc., you may be lucky to profit $1.00 per pound when everything is said and done. So lets say you have $500 from your honey sales. Taking this off the total to lessen your costs, you bring the total down to $1140.00


Yes, you could nitpick this cost, or save here or there, but I think the numbers are at least feasible. If you charged for pollination, you would need to charge $114.00 per hive to just break even! And we didn't even factor in initial equipment expenditures, insurance, or a host of many other potential costs. And sometimes, working farms with their mowing, spraying, and other factors, are really not the best place to keep healthy bees or get the best surplus honey crop.


I once asked a farmer why he didn't just get 10 hives himself and do his own pollination. He simply stated "If I had to keep the bees myself, I would spend more in labor myself tending the bees compared to just paying you to keep them."


I realized two things. I was not charging enough for pollination, and the farmer was much smarter than I was. Seems like many farmers tried to keep bees a year or two, then quickly go back to renting hives after they lose their hives or find out what really goes into keeping bees. They certainly did not want to lose money every year keeping bees themselves. I guess they are pretty smart letting beekeepers do it.


Don't get stuck on the details of the numbers. The broader message is that beekeepers should be charging appropriately for their services. And in some cases, NOT paying rent fees to commercial operations that benefit from your cost and labor, for the exchange of a place to keep your bees. Your worth way more than that as a beekeeper providing a service.

Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries.




Do You Have Australian Bees?


August 2010



In the summer of 2009 I had the pleasure of attending HAS, the Heartland Apicultural Society conference in Ohio. The following is based on a conversation that I had with several beekeeper there at the conference, and several I spoke too since.


In any bee meeting or conference, the best exchange of information is usually those that happen after the meetings are over and the speaker is finished. I have often said that more is learned in the parking lot after bee meetings than what was learned inside at the meeting. And as I was chatting with some beekeepers one evening, I overheard some bits of conversation from a nearby group. I asked them to repeat what I thought I had just heard. And so they did.


Two of the beekeepers told their story, of arriving at a large package producers place at the wrong day for a package pickup. They had arrived a day sooner than expected. So as they were there, deciding what to do for the day, a truck with a load of hives pulls up, direct from California. They told the story that these bees were being bought and brought in to replace dead-out colonies. Of course, many questions followed. One of those questions was to the origin of the genetics of the bees being brought in from California. Could anyone directly make the connection if these bees and the genetics were from Australian packages? No. But you need not look far to see the massive sell off of hives after pollination is over in California.


Would it be plausible to think that of the many thousands of packages installed in hives for almond pollination, that some could be finding their way to the east coast though package producers buying cheap bees dumped on the market after almond pollination? Why would beekeepers want stock with no resistance from areas such as with bees from Australia? Are there beekeepers or farmers themselves, dumping bees after their original use is over, and they have the opportunity to recoup their investment, by dumping these hives to whoever will buy them? Bees being brought in from Australia, used for pollination, then dumped by beekeepers not wanting to deal with weak genetics, and able to recoup their investment, certainly seems possible. And that was the basis of the conversation that took place that evening.


Since that time, I have spoken to two university level entomologists, and two commercial beekeepers concerning this scenario. All stated, after being assured they would not be quoted, that this is happening, and has been happening for a few years now. And it seems this subject is something some just would rather not seen discussed.


So what to do? We certainly need packages. I know being a northern breeder and supplier of nucs, that we can not fill any created void in supply from package producers. There simply is not enough nuc producers. And with the influx of new beekeepers, we need everyone to have the access to purchasing bees. So it seems that perhaps this is a situation of the bee industry, that being anybody who buys packages, needs to be aware of and plan accordingly.

I see that at least one east coast package producer has added a disclaimer stating that there are no bees from California in his operation. So there are beekeepers out there asking questions. Every beekeeper needs to know the genetic stock, the origins of the bees being shaken into packages, and demand full disclosure be offered.


This certainly is a touchy subject. And one that some will be ticked off reading. And I will be scrutinized being a nuc producer and perceived as bashing the package industry. That is not the intent. The intent is for beekeepers to be ware of what is happening, and demand that they get what they think they are buying. I buy queens and packages from southern producers almost every year. We need southern producers. But I also want bees not coming from California or from stock that originated from Australian bee stock. So whether your buying from a nuc producer, package producer, or anyone else, ask questions. Get to know who you are buying from, and know what you are getting.


Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries

No-Till Farming and Bees


July 2010



I'm not a traditional farmer. Or at least not one from the sense that I have a huge tractor, keep traditional livestock such as cows, or plant corn. I have a lawn tractor, keep bees, and plant such things as tomatoes and strawberries in the garden. But I watch the weather every day, and suffer it seems from the yearly cycles of one weather pattern to the next, when it comes to my bees. I do have some farming magazines and try to read as much as I can about sustainable farming, the ongoing debate over raw milk, the plight of the family farm, as well as other topics.


I had read over the years about no-till farming and the efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay, as well as other waterways. And it always seemed to make sense to me. The idea was simple. Get farmers to stop the deep tilling that they traditionally practiced, where 10 or more inches of soil was overturned to bury the field weed and plants, and have them use light tilling or no tilling instead. This would stop soil erosion and keep more sediments from choking streams and rivers. Certain field crops such as clovers could be planted to amend the soil, then the cash crops could be planted over top, after lightly disking the plants or spraying them. Seemed reasonable.


In September 2008, I was visiting a bee yard getting the bees ready for winter. As I drove back the farmers lane, I admired the late blooming clover and stopped to watch the bees work the flowers. What a great bounty for the bees at this time of the year I thought. I continued back to the yard and out of 15 hives, found two that seemed light in stores needed for the winter. So I made plans to return the next week to put some fondant on the hives and say my farewells to the bees till the following spring.


So a week later as I drove back the same long dirt lane through the farm, something seemed odd. For a second or two, I could not put my finger on it. Then it hit me. The only green patch I could see, was the green strip of grass between the tire ruts of the lane. Everything else was barren wasteland of brown vegetation. It looked like a moonscape. Void of all signs of life. Not a insect or green leaf to be found. As I drove up to the bee yard, it took little effort to notice the 2 or 3 inch piles of dead bees outside each hive. I knew their fate. Those lush fields they were working the week before, also became their death sentence.


I inspected each hive. 12 of the 15 hives were goners. Each lost 75% of the cluster. Three hives still had decent size clusters. But now what appeared to be a yard ready for the harsh winter ahead, seemed doomed. I left them to see what would make it. The 12 I thought was going to die, did. I lost another one of the three, making the winter kill rate in this yard, 13 dead, and two surviving the following spring.


If I had not been there the very day or week to see those dead bees, and see that field go from lush green foliage to barren wasteland, I could of easily went through winter thinking my bees were properly prepared, and had the best chances of over wintering. Upon that first inspection in the spring, any piles of bees in front of the hives would have been long gone. I would of thought that maybe the mites were bad or that I had missed something such as enough brood or enough feed. No doubt, I would have been blaming myself as to what I could of done differently. But I know it was no-till farming. I know it was the chemicals used. I had spoken to the farmer and he stated he sprayed getting ready for a winter wheat.


This spring (2010), in May, I was going through nucs, boxing them up with another beekeeper getting them ready to be sent out to fill an order. The yard we were in was a holding yard for larger orders where I bring in nucs from other smaller breeding yards. I came across two nucs that puzzled me. They had larvae that seemed to be melting in the cells. I instinctively thought AFB. The one thing as a nuc producer you fear the most is AFB. But the state inspectors went through my operation no more then two weeks earlier, and I passed with a clean bill of health.


So we did testing. I had another former inspector take a look. We debated what we were seeing. The tests came back negative. I followed the trail of these two nucs back to the yard they originated. I found many nucs in the same condition. And not one yard, but two nuc yards were displaying the same symptoms. This seemed to make sense. After all, my breeding yards are packed into a small area for breeding efforts, drone saturation, etc. Over the next couple weeks, it seemingly disappeared. I never did notice dead bees in front of the hives such as with traditional pesticide kill. But all hives lost at least two weeks of brood production. Queen rearing was also affected. My grafting rate was down, and those queens that did emerge, seemed to have a higher rate of failure. So these nucs are sitting, waiting to see what comes of them. Maybe continued problems queen supersedure, which many beekeepers mention nowadays. Maybe nothing more will come from this till the next rotation of crops are planted. Where these hives are located is a non-working farm. So how is one to even know which field, which farmer, and which pesticide is too blame? It seems this no-till spraying is around every corner.


I have become keenly aware of the pattern of one lush green field next to another field void of all life. These fields seem to be everywhere in my part of the country. You can see no-till farming, which usually corresponds to field corn planting in the spring. You can see the dead vegetation days after they spray, and soon afterwards, the little green sprouts of the corn plants as the line up in nice neat rows.


Yes, soil erosion is less. The waterways are more clear than before. But what about this chemical runoff into the waterways? Are we trading some dirt through erosion, to a system of no-till farming with run-off containing more chemicals than previously?


You do not need to look far to find alarming news such as the decline of native pollinators, bats with disease, and bees dying off in great numbers. It seems we trade one poison for another. It takes a decade or more for all the evidence to be collected, then look back and as we shake our heads, state "What were we thinking!" Seems that is the cycle. And by the time this needs changed, the next series of chemicals are ready for market, and we start the whole cycle over again.

We just seem destined to repeat history, over and over.


Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries




Thinking Outside the Box


Everything has Consequences


Originally published October 2009



When CCD first hit the scene, congressional hearings were held, claims were made that Einstein said we would all die within four years without honey bees, movies were made, articles written, and some of this hyper-drama continues even today. Maybe that would be a good article for the future. But for now, lets focus on how all this could impact others into action. I?m sure there has been many more gallons of ice cream consumed, entomology department payrolls increased, and other benefits seen outside the bee industry. But what about some not so mentioned items. What long term impacts or trends have been set into motion that will have lasting consequences? And lets ask what happens when you ask others, or better yet, push others, into thinking outside their own boxes by the actions of the bee industry.


I raised an eyebrow as I was talking to a couple farmers two years ago. They had casually mentioned a well known entomologist and asked me if I knew the name. I said yes. I asked how did they know the person? They went on to tell me about a presentation made to the fruit growers association a couple evenings prior, and the main topic was about using alternative pollinators. It kind of irked me to know that the same people researching CCD were the same ones telling farmers not to place all their eggs in the same basket and promoting alternative pollinators. But who could blame others when the bee industry itself keeps repeating the same doom and gloom message that the sky is falling. So it was not a surprise when I noticed this spring some cans of mason bees hanging from poles in one of the farms I pollinate. I mentioned the new mason bees cans to the farmer. He said one of the local Penn State extension employee was promoting their use and actually providing them free for the first year. I thought that was very convenient.


Now the one thing that farmers do is talk. And they all know each other. Not much is missed on the grapevine. So I heard many comments and was contacted in both 2007 and 2008 about three frame pollination units that farmers were not happy with, especially after one of the largest pollination fee increases being passed on after CCD first hit. Seems some were trying to make up for lost hives by splitting too much and then raising fees at the same time.

I also recently read about a study conducted in New Jersey that found out that 21 out 23 vine crop farms had enough native pollinators to adequately pollinate their crops. You do not need to look far to find such articles and research being conducted. The message is out, the message is clear to farmers.Look into native pollinators! Seek other pollinators. The honey bees are in crisis! Protect yourself!


The bee industry has forced others to look into other forms of pollination. Farmers are considering other avenues than paying for over priced, weak, or (put in their minds by beekeepers) that the honey bee may not be available in the future.

It was no surprise last week when the farm that had mason bees placed on his farm cancelled his contract for next year. Although I never had CCD, and have not raised my fees in 4 years, he as well as other farmers have been inundated with the honey bee plight, the idea of other pollinators may be better or superior, and that they need to look into other means to protect themselves.

The big mega operations, as well as almonds will always need bees. Having enough native pollinators from the surrounding countryside is not going to happen when you count plantings of one crop by "square miles". But those smaller family farms, which are important to both large and smaller beekeeping operations, are asking if they really need the honey bees, looking into alternative pollinators, scaling back as research keeps coming forward suggesting the use of honey bees are not needed. And some farmers are looking into more crops that are self pollinating. And who can we thank for this? Beekeepers!

The bee industry keeps shooting themselves in the foot, then dragging themselves down the street screaming for all to take notice. How much more bleeding can we take?


Maybe CCD is more than just a bunch of migratory beekeepers needing to clean up their practice. Although being one who has been hammered in years past for even suggesting illegal chemicals were even being used, it does make me smile as I notice some claim they have far less CCD problems after good sound practices have been implemented. And if it is more than bad beekeeping, maybe we can get to the conclusion without too many more self inflicted gunshots to the feet.

It is about time we start rallying the industry in many ways. We need to be aware of the public message sent forth and consequences put into motion. We need to protect our industry and become relative and important as providers of a product and service. After all, the sky is not falling, the food industry is not crashing, and there is no shortage of bees. But farmers have been forced to look "Outside the box" and they certainly are! I do not want to diminish the loss that many beekeepers suffered. I just want to point out industry trends and consequences that we all need to be aware of.

Well, I got to run. I hear there is a new movie or some show coming on called "The Last Beekeeper". I hope my farmers are not watching it!

Take Care,

Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries


Thinking Outside the Box


Killer Moisture


Originally Published August 2009



Everybody has probably heard the expression in beekeeping "Moisture Kills"?. On the surface it sounds reasonable enough. Bees are said to handle the cold, cluster ever tighter as needed, even in the coldest of times, yet over and over I hear "Moisture kills".

So why is this? Has it always been this way? Do bees in feral colonies, or even ?unmanaged? hives have this problem?


Many discussions can be heard today about upper entrances and screened bottoms for ventilation, special tops with sensors, motors, and gadgets to rid the hives of moisture, this type of hive or that type of hive, all in efforts to deal with moisture. Perhaps we are making a mountain out of a mole hill.

In looking at feral colonies, we know from published studies from Cornell, that bees prefer a very specific size colony. Bees also prefer lower entrances, and will actually avoid swarm traps that have light or openings from above. We also know bees work their way up throughout the first part of the winter so they are located at the top of the colony when they start rearing brood in coldest part of the winter. Trapped heat or a "dead zone" where heat is collected is important for bees raising brood.


With feral colonies some things ring true. They have no beekeeper feeding them sugar syrup. They feed on honey. What is the moisture content of this honey? Probably close to 17 or 18%. It is also true that no beekeeper is breaking that seal of propolis by changing out jars every week in attempting to shower them with way too much attention and misguided love.

Compare that to the hive being fed sugar syrup well into winter by beekeepers, and many times not even needed. A syrup with a two to one ratio, would yield a moisture content somewhere around 33%. And if the beekeeper was feeding 1 to 1 syrup, this would raise the moisture content to close to 50%. I?m sure everyone here in Pennsylvania has experienced the difference between a dry cold compared to a heavy moisture cold that permeates seemingly to your bones in very short time.

Why are we feeding bees sugar syrup sometimes all winter long? They can not possibly do much with curing the syrup and capping it, when we know wax production and manipulation stops way earlier than when some are still placing syrup on the hive in November, December or even later.


Moisture for the most part, seems to be a beekeeper induced problem. Partly due to the hive construction which is vastly different from the high insulating R-value given from 6 inches of oak wood in that bee tree. The absorption factor compared to feral colonies is far less with our 1 inch standard wood we use today in constructing hives.

I think the main moisture contributor is the idea that beekeeper need to continuously feed syrup all winter, especially when items like bee candy and fondant are available. Bee candy was used years ago, and except for a few here and there, it just seems most would rather fill hive top feeders, frame feeders, a few inverted canning jars or a quail feeder. However, have we created this moisture problem in large degrees by not properly preparing the bees for winter? And by thinking we are doing the bees a favor by having syrup available all winter long.


Bees are stressed by having to fill feeders throughout the winter, adding massive amounts of moisture by feeding syrup. And the propolis seal is broken every time the hive is opened. Heat is also lost that is vital to the colony.

If you have a light hive (I did NOT say "weak hive", which should have been combined as part of your winter preparations), then consider ending any syrup feeding by the end of September. Then place enough fondant or bee candy on the inner cover hole, (This is where your bees will be if they are starving anyways) then place an empty super on top and add the top..and let them be!


Don't be the beekeeper who every spring holds up a comb, filled with open sugar syrup from feeding the fall before, taken from a dead hive! you read this, you should of already begun getting your hives ready for winter. Don?t count on that unreliable Pennsylvania fall flow.

Take Care.

Mike - Bjorn Apiaries.




Thinking Outside The Box


 Whats In Your Brown Bag?


Originally Published June 2009


When CCD first hit back in the fall of 2006, one of the first things I looked at was nutrition. It was an area I could look at without a CCD team, laboratory, or millions of dollars in research monies. So I started digging deep. And much of what I found amazed me.

In 1952, A man by the name of DeGroot, outlined the nutritional requirements of bees. He set the standard that all books since then have used in regards to proteins, essential amino acids, and other levels needed by the bees to maintain health. Information concerning this can be found at This site also outlines something the Australians called ?Fall dwindling disease? to which they had problems with 20 years ago. They found out that bees heading into winter with low internal protein levels, and poor quality or lack of pollen from within the hive, cut short the bees lifespan by half. But all that is in the report if you go to the website. I passed on what I found to the CCD working group in February 2007 as a item of interest. Many have heard me talk about nutrition as I spoke to county groups in 2007 about nutrition and what I had found.

I found it interesting in researching ingredients for a pollen supplement, that nobody on the market listed full nutritional listing, what the ingredients were, where the ingredients were coming from, etc. Most pollen supplement were being sold from brown bags, with a minimal of information. Most were not marketed on nutrition. They were marketed by how fast the bees consumed the product. Easy to calculate by the sometimes 50 to 70% of sugar added to the product. Buying pollen supplement and getting sugar, makes for expensive sugar feeding.

I started making my own supplement and bought pollen from a couple of the major suppliers in the industry. After discussions with one company about the nutritional values, it was divulged that the pollen was not for a nutritional basis, but the pollen was added to make the bees consume it faster. They also after much pressure, took their pollen off the market in early 2008 once they acknowledged it was from China. So I called a second company inquiring about pollen. I was sold 2 50 pound bags with the last comment being "This pollen is approved for bees but not human consumption". How odd! Well even more odd was the FDA recall I received in the mail. Seems somebody wanted their pollen back. I asked why? They said it was a "labeling error". I asked if there was any problems with the product. They said No. I mentioned I was more than happy to keep the product with a "bad" label. Besides I needed the pollen for the supplement I was making. After a couple more letters and phone calls demanding the product back, I threw the bags in the fridge. Something just sounded fishy. I also had found out this pollen was from China also.

As part of the CCD research, I was able to send a sample off to Penn State for testing. What I found out was Chinese beekeepers must really favor Apiastan for mite treatments due to the levels found in the pollen. I also found out the they still use DDT. It showed up in levels from the pollen sample. This really ticked me off. Here I was using no chemicals in my hives for 6 years, and yet, something like a pollen bought from a bee supplier had me putting the chemicals in anyways. DDT builds up in the brain and fatty tissues over time.

I?m not going to suggest that this is connected to CCD. I do not get millions of dollars to research such stuff. But what I would like, is for the suppliers of bee products in the states to be honest and give us the facts. The days of beekeepers buying products from brown paper sacks with little information should end. We should demand it!

Suppliers need to answer such questions as: What is the full nutritional analysis of the product? Does it meet the essential amino acid requirements bees need to properly digest the proteins? What ingredients are in the supplement? What are the origins of those products? And have they been tested?

I have been burned by buying pollen from two major suppliers in the states. I did not know it was foreign pollen, and I did not know it was laced with high levels of fluvalinate or DDT. I do not buy pollen any longer from the supply companies. This was a big reason I quit selling pollen supplement And I refuse to buy vaguely labeled pollen supplement on the market that can not answer those questions mentioned above.

Seems those beekeepers with past CCD problems, who are cleaning up their act with chemicals, putting on clean comb, and making an effort to control mites better are seeing less losses. Maybe getting that foreign pollen off the market laced with chemicals might of helped also.

I could write many pages of what I found out in regards to nutrition over the past few years. But I need to keep it short. I'll end by asking?.

What's in your supplement or brown bag wrapped bee feed?

Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries.



Thinking Outside The Box #2


Marking Queens


Originally Published May 2009



I'm looking for a few volunteers. I'm looking for willing participants who do not care about their health, don't want to get caught up with health issues or warnings, and those who just want to have some fun. If you have children, perhaps you can get them involved also. If all goes well, you may even get your name in a written article in one of the bee magazines. And wouldn't that be so neat?

So what I want to do is this. I want to take a product that has always been assumed to be safe. One that has been used, with seemingly no known side effects, no known long term impact, and no long term concerns. I want to take this product and paint a 18 inch disk on your back. If we have families participate, we can have family members paint their backs with different colors. White, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red, seems like great colors. But once marked, you will carry the spot for the rest of your life. So pick a good one.


So after being marked, we want to see if rashes develop, whether long term health concerns can be seen, and if even other chemicals would interact with the paint spot. We hold the right to hit this paint spot with a splash of formic acid, maybe some oxalic acid, and a few other chemicals of our choosing. But do not be concerned. You see, others have gone before you, and never has their ever been one complaint.


Like any good study, we must have transparency. So I add the following jibber-jabber and nonsense for those who want to read it. Those participating in the study can just skip the next paragraph or two. No sense wasting your time reading this. The paint product for the study contains such chemicals as VMP naphtha, Ethyl Benzene, Xylene, High Boiling Aliphatic Hydrocarbon, Anti Flooding Agents, Diarylide Yellow pigment, and Copper Phthalocyanide pigment. We?ll mention them, but just disregard comments on the label such as "contains a chemical that causes birth defects" and "known to cause cancer". Probably just a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo anyways. Labels?what good are they really for anyways?


And just to cover our bases, cause you never know what may be brought up later, we contacted the company for the MSDS on the product to be used. (Material Safety Data Sheet). After all, we want this to be a first rate study. But who wants to get caught up in details? Yes, the MSDS mentions things like "Primary routes of Entry" for contaminates as "Inhalation and skin contact". Yes, it says to not have it come in contact with your skin. But how are we to conduct a study, let alone use the product as it always has been, if we were to take such written warnings with any real reality. So just disregard all that. Probably just government lingo garbage anyways. Oh, and yes that discussion with the company representative where we asked if they knew the product was being used by beekeepers. The one where they almost seemingly giggled with delight and said they were quite aware of their product was used by beekeepers. Just disregard that also. That's the conversation where they commented that they never ran any testing on using their product on humans, let alone other things, like Bees! And when I said since they knew it was being used for things like bees, if they would go on the record as promoting such use, they avoided that answer as if all of a sudden, there could be a problem. I remember as we ended the conversation, something along the lines that "we do not recommend, advise, or promote, the use of our product other than what the label indicates and the product has been approved. We do not advise it be use on human, animal or insects."


Now wait one moment here! This was the same product that was sold in some bee supply companies, and advertised for marking queens. But now I read and hear, that the stuff is carcinogenic, not made for insects, never approved or tested for such use, and it?s starting to have me wonder a bit. And it has me asking some questions.

Is it really as safe as some beekeepers suggest, since they never seem to have any problems marking their queens? Yes, everyone says the queens of today are not good as they once were, but that can be easily answered by using the excuse, that queen quality and even hive loss is due to other things. After all, we have a whole list of things to complain about, including neonicotinoids, coumaphos laced wax, etc.


I do not mark my queens. I do not use chemicals in the hive. I don't know which one's may be safe but made "unsafe" if in contact with another chemical. I guess if we get some beekeepers to volunteer to have paint spots painted on their backs, we can always throw some formic or oxalic acid on the spots and see what develops. My money will be on a rash developing or some severe skin irritation, if it had not developed by just the paint spot alone. I just hope we do not lose any beekeepers during the testing phase. "Superceding" beekeeper volunteers would slow the results, lessen productivity of the test, and could even spell disaster for the research.


I guess I'll continue to ask questions. I'll wonder how I may be forced to mark queens in the future if we ever have problems with AHBs and we are forced to comply with such things as "Best Beekeeping Practices". I feel real uncomfortable being forced to put unapproved chemicals in my hive, let alone paint queens with such items.


Maybe it's time for the beekeeping community to demand bee safe products. Maybe we should look at how chemicals play off each other and actually see if marked queens are being harmed. Maybe we need to take a step back up sometimes, take a look at everything in our industry, and ask questions.


Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries






Thinking Outside the Box


Altering ph Levels in the Hive


Originally Published April 2009


Some time ago, in a discussion I have lost track of, someone made the comment about the length of a blueberry contract out in the Midwest. Not sure what he was suggesting, I asked what the purpose of such contract was, being no longer than 5 days in blueberries. He went on to explain that many beekeepers in the Midwest would not allow their bees to be on blueberry pollination longer than a 5 day stretch. And if they were needed longer, additional fees would be charged to the farmer. I asked why? He commented that if the hives were on pollination any longer than 5 days, an increase in AFB would be seen, with many hives being diagnosed.


It made me do some thinking. I know blueberries require a certain ph level in the soil for providing the best growth and blueberry production. I wondered if that ph level could be seen in blueberry honey. And could a certain crop, by the nectar being collected, change or allow certain disease and other problems to outbreak at increased rates?


I guess everything in the hive has a ph level of some level. So what else could change the ph levels inside a hive. The possibilities could be many. What about the recent increase in acid treatments placed in the hive? Could those very treatments change the makeup and ph levels of wax, the organic matter inside the hive, the honey stores, or even the internal makeup of the bees themselves?


I'm not a fan of acid treatments. I have said many times that there is a fine line between enough acid to kill a mite, and enough not to harm a bee. I also highly disagree with those applying these treatments late in the fall, after the fall brood has been already raised and effected by the mites. And then to subject the bees to being "aged" by hitting them with an acid treatment, only makes me wonder. Whether one uses these treatments is an individual choice. But my opinion is that treating prior to the fall flow is still the best option, if you choose to go down that path..

If it's true about blueberries effecting hives by allowing AFB to increase in hives, then is it so far fetched to think that maybe the acid treatments are also effecting ph levels of all the matter within a hive? I know several beekeepers in the southeastern section of the state has commented on the high levels of AFB in recent years. Seems also that in recent years, the acid treatments were being promoted and encouraged. I wonder if there is a connection.


Seems many treatments of the past were claimed to be safe. But we also know the toll that some of these chemicals have done over the years. And we can also see these same chemicals have been shown to effect queen viability, the queens lifespan, and other aspects of a hive's health.

I don't trust marketing. I do not trust the "safeness" of any treatment out on the market today. What was once safe, has time and time again shown to be unsafe years later. What I do know, is that my hives have done rather well without the standard chemical. And I think they will do just fine without hitting the bees with an acid treatment as they prepare themselves to go into winter.


In thinking about ph levels within the hives, I also now wonder about the radiation treatments being promoted. I wonder how it changes the organic matter within the hives, as it remains after the treatment. It does not make chemicals go away, or anything else. But it certainly may change the chemical makeup, the ph levels, and who knows what else. I guess as with everything else, we will find out down the road whether it was worth it, and if it has long-term negative consequences.

Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries




Thinking Outside The Box


CCD possibilities


Originally Published March 2009


At this point, two years into CCD, does anyone have a clue what CCD is, or what combinations of triggers cause it? I don't think so.

They now know that Nosema C, has been around in samples 15 years old. That it is not a new Nosema just introduced. And it may of been here longer than we thought.

We also know that the pesticides, neonicotinoids, and other chemicals that some thought were the source for CCD, has shown in numbers of comb tests that would indicate they are not sole to blame. Although I do think that the combination of chemicals in the hive, produce deadly concoctions that may be a piece of the puzzle, mainly by lowering the immune system and making other problems more opportunistic.

But lets talk outside the box for a moment.

Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as "NF" is probably something most do not know much about. But you may of heard about the "flesh-eating" disease that is more common in hospitals these days than most really know. It's caused by a. streptococcus, or "GAS".

Did you know that most people carry "GAS" already? It's not something you get from "catching" it, it is something you have already on your skin.

People at risk are those who have suppressed immune systems (chemotherapy, steroid use, kidney disease, or HIV infection to name a few) And once these people then have surgery or other procedures in a hospital, they are at risk for seeing NF, due to the bacteria entering the body through contusions, abrasions, cuts, or other skin breaks.

Once the strain GAS outbreaks into NF, it is often fatal. The regiment of different antibiotics alone may number a half dozen types since the culture and strain may be difficult to treat. And many times if not caught early, treatment is useless.

So what do we have for humans?.....a bacterial strain already present on most human bodies. But until the immune system is suppressed, and the right vector is presented, most people will carry the bacteria for their lifetime. And no problems will ever exist. And for all the science in the world, much of what we know today about NF, has come about through perhaps billions of dollars of research, study, and experience.

Now relate the above information to bees today. We have bees with suppressed immune systems (pesticides, beekeeper introduced chemicals, poor genetics and breeding, stressed hives being moved, poor nutrition, etc) and couple that with a vector of infection via the v-mites, and what possible bacterial agent are we possible not seeing?

So, is there bacterial issues so off the scope that nobody is looking or has no clue what to look for? Are items such as management, movement of bees, chemicals/pesticides, coupled with poor genetics, suppressing immune systems to the point that when you have a mite load able to open up a vector in enough bees, that deadly consequences then are set in motion?

I look at NF, as something we just now are learning so much about. And it almost mirrors exactly what we see in bees. A bacterial being present all the time, then coupled with a suppressed immune system, then vectored into the body (or even passed by the queen or food - although I'm not sure)...and what does it all add up to? For humans, many times a death sentence with NF. For bees, perhaps CCD and a dead hive.

I do not know how researchers look for different bacterial strains in the hunt for CCD answers.. Are they looking at the one's we know and have cataloged before? What about new ones, like GAS on humans that have been there all along, but never really looked at?

This of course opens up many questions about passing disease between hives in a yard since entire yards are crashed from CCD, or if the infection is passed beyond the vector of open wounds (open feeding, etc) in bees from mites.

The point I'm suggesting is that we have a potentially deadly bacteria strain that we already carry on most of our bodies, yet only when the circumstances are correct, do we see the infection and outbreak, as such with NF. And CCD, could very well be the same model for bees. This of course is something that many have said all along. That it is a combination of factors all lining up, to create the CCD. Twenty five years ago, NF was not even on the minds of the medical community. But since that time, those items like HIV, radiation treatments, and steroid use, has allowed NF to dramatically increase. Are increased use of different type of pesticides, mono-agriculture, and other factors at play on that same parallel, only with bees? A suppressed immune system may allow for things not previously seen before.


Keep strong bees, keep mites under control, keep stress low, and provide proper nutrition for the bees. Poor nutrition, coupled with stress, is a deadly combination, whether for a human, a dog, horse, or a bee.

Mike Thomas - Bjorn Apiaries