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First Day Issue: 4-Sheet / Apis mellifera
honeycomb and nectar-gathering
aperiodic tessellation of hexagons
stamps & text © 2010 by Robert Merkin, All Rights Reserved
honeycomb image © Jiri Bohdal / www.naturephoto-cz.com
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SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH UNTIL 8:00 PM EDT
ISSUE TIME: 9/13/2010 4:03:00 PM
VALID UNTIL: 9/13/2010 8:00:00 PM
Hiya L**** --
Sorry I was snoring when you dropped over yesterday. Thanks a gazillion for tending the cats. Since we moved to C***********, it was the first time [we] felt comfy being away from the kitty-cats. We're very happy to take care of S****** when you guys take time away.
We're very lucky this year. All the cats are youthful, healthy, robust, and reasonably smart.
We've learned that all cats get sad when their regular humans go away, but with visits from a nice, cat-loving neighbor, they get through any length of it just fine. (Stewie has a particularly short limit for Hunger Strikes, and is not likely to waste away.) Even jumpy Mimi got back into the swing of things the night we came back.
(Benny has a funny Cat Zodiac sign: Nothing fazes him. He's the most sensitive and perceptive, but gets through all changes and challenges smoothly and quickly, never sulks or pouts, never hides.)
Did you enjoy the Honeybee Festival? What did Mr. C. have to say about CCD?
(We enjoyed another lecture -- and samples -- by the young man who turns Mr. C.'s honey into delicious mead.)
The last time I spoke with Mr. C. about CCD, he came very close to a flat denial that CCD really exists as an authentic, new disease threat. Obviously there is a well-documented, feverishly researched continent-wide worrisome phenomenon, but Mr. C. says it's never affected the hives in his network of small-scale small-farm local-activity New England beekeepers.
(I think he and his fellow wizards hob-nob and do magical tricks with their bees every summer at Cornell.)
He attributes CCD to a troubling modern development: industrial-scale agribusiness pollination, in which convoys of 18-wheel tractor-trailers constantly transport tens of thousands of hives all over North America, to pollinate huge seasonal monoculture crop regions.
(I don't know what they do with all the honey; maybe it becomes Sioux Bee brand supermarket honey.)
Honeybees just didn't evolve to withstand the enormous, unnatural stresses of this huge-scale practice, and these huge populations of long-distance transport bees predictably succumb to a variety of well-known hive diseases which small-scale local farm apiaries never have.
You saw how scrupulously and obsessively Mr. C. tends to his hives -- I'm guessing Warm Colors Apiary has fewer than 100 hives. It's pretty obvious that a "beekeeper" who trucks 5000 hives thousands of miles every year will not take nearly the same scrupulous care of such hives. I suspect these agribusiness caravans are more truckers than expert, dedicated beekeepers.
Not far away in season, at the southern entrance to the Maine Turnpike, you can see convoys of hundreds of tractor-trailers bring Texas-based hives to the blueberry fields. Systematic honeybee pollination doubles the blueberry fruit yield compared to fields pollinated by the wild bumblebee population. (Roberts Family Farm gets sufficient results -- and delicious blueberries -- from bumblebee pollination. But no honey byproduct, darnit.)
Once Mr. C. told me he's grateful to CCD. The federal government traditionally paid no attention to beekeeping and never funded any research or support for it. But when the CCD threat began grabbing the national headlines, one member of Congress from the Dakota farmlands made beekeeping his personal mission, and for the first time beekeeping research and support are getting a huge infusion of federal money, interest and attention,. So, as the kids say, it's all good.
I mentioned Warm Colors' rare and delicious American Basswood honey. Mr. C. says it will be bottled and put on sale in about a month. (The mead brewer says Basswood makes terrible-tasting mead.) At the last festival, I bought the very handsome Apis mellifera t-shirt, and wear it proudly. Nephews and nieces adore the animal [figure] beeswax candles.
Thanks again for making our getaway to the Cape happen!
Labels: Apis mellifera Western honeybee aperiodic tessellation hexagon Postalo Vleeptron Warm Colors Apiary American Basswood Colony Collapse Disorder Green River Ambrosia