This morning I did a hive entry check because last night, while I was sitting on the porch as a thunderstorm went right around us, AGAIN, I thought I noticed fewer bees hanging on the front of hive number 1. Fewer bees could have been caused by the cool, damp breeze blowing in or it could be a sign of trouble. Anyway, I stood around in front of the hives today and I saw lots and lots of bees with enormous panniers of pollen. See the little yellow pocket to the right of the bee. Go ahead, click the picture for a better look.
I did a quick look around and realized the corn had bloomed and the bees were sneaking over the fence to partake. The bees love this stuff, though harvesting corn pollen has no economic benefit since corn self-pollinates.
Hold up a minute. Let me climb on my stump.
Many commercial beekeepers forget this important, natural step in the hive year. When the beekeepers become paid pollinators for crops requiring insect pollination, the needs of the bees are neglected. Years ago, bees were more viable because there were more backyard keepers and farmers who kept their own pollination hives, which allows them to stay on the property for the entire year. During the stationary hive year, the bees are allowed to forage for the nutrients needed to keep healthy, while those on the road are fed inferior replacements.
If we let the bees gather corn pollen, would we be any better off? With all the genetically modified corn out there, I'm wondering if the bees need to be left to their own devices. Could the genetically altered corn be the one thing that is killing the bees?
We grow only organic, non GMO, corn here, so I let (like I am in full control of all my 120,000 plus bees) my bees eat all they want, but I do wonder about the other, not so lucky bees (I'm also lucky, none of my neighbors are corn growers). If corn is genetically altered to produce Bt in the pollen, which it is, then is not the pollen an insecticide?
Perhaps cheap corn isn't as cheap as it seems.