2016 Was an Exciting Year
I would like to first extend my gratitude to our supporters and volunteers. Our goals for practical research on the natural home of the honey bee connect us across many interests. At a time when some are working to produce robotic pollinators, we are looking to study the ecological relationships left behind by the current agriculture paradigm. Personally, I believe we are in great company.
2016 was an exciting year for this old entomologist…in addition to our regular events and volunteer work, Tree Hive Bees was fortunate to have Daniel Rich, a forestry student, as our summer research volunteer. Daniel assisted me as we learned the art of bee lining and following bees through the Pacific Northwest forests. We were well armed with Dr. Tom Seeleys new book "Following the Wild Bees" and advice from regional bee hunters as we faced obstacles including bears, uncooperative weather and unexpected sources of nectar competing with our syrup baits. Using mountaineering techniques including triangulation, our hard work was well rewarded when we finally found our first colony. The sun was just beginning to highlight the tree tops. As the light began to move down the trunks of the trees Daniel saw the beautiful membranous wings reflecting in the early morning sun. A great old maple on the north side of the gully we'd traversed waved to us with its cloud of foragers. Each tree colony we've found has been equally exciting achievement for me and I cannot wait to begin our 2017 hunting!
Some additional highlights from 2016:
We began the year by presenting our scanning electron micrographs at the Eugene Home and Garden Show to help get people up close to the amazing beauty of the bee.
In March we traveled to Bend for the Central Oregon Beekeepers meeting on non-langstroth hives, where I was able to discuss the Tree Hives we use and give an overview of our efforts. We watched a great video of a pseudoscorpion making a quick meal of varroa. The video was met with many cheers and exclamations of joy at the varroa's defeat.
Also in Spring we spoke to a retired teachers group in Eugene, which lead to the presentation of an observation hive and beekeeping gear to McCormak Elementary School in Eugene. The students seemed to really enjoy trying on all the bee gear and puffing the old smoker. We also had drones for the students to hold without fear of being stung.
August brought the Oregon Honey Festival in Ashland. Tree Hive Bees gave a presentation on bee lining. The festival was fun, lots to see, taste, hear and do.
In September, before Dan went back to school, we held a honey bee external morphology class for Central Oregon Beekeepers Association members, who were able to get some close-up views of their honey bees. It is always exciting being back in the classroom…especially with some of the attendees using a microscope for the first time! Thank you Central Oregon Community College for welcoming us and sharing your lab space and equipment!
In October we had a display table at the Oregon State Beekeepers Association annual conference. There were many questions about bee lining, made even more timely as Dr. Tomas Seeley was a featured speaker at the conference.
This brings us to the present…We are meeting in April with a supplier to make the final changes to our 2017 Tree Hive Bees Hive. Our board will meet soon after. Speaking of our board…if anyone knows of a grant writing whiz who wants to join our eclectic and ridiculously good looking board, please let me know! Beekeeping knowledge would be helpful but not required.
We are also putting together an application and hammering out the details for an exciting Citizen Science opportunity to assist with our research by hosting hives and reporting results. Once we have more details you can expect an update requesting your participation!
I would like to wrap this up by acknowledging the daunting situation we are all in with the very long list of issues threatening our pollinators. We bee people, being beekeepers or just admirers, are rewarded with a unique appreciation of the symphony between plants and insects. It's not an easy time to be bee people. Our bees are in danger and we want to do what we can to help, in an age of commercialized information overload. One of our volunteers has a knack for calling me when I've read some horrifying statistic or news that has me in despair. She manages to cheer me up with her pragmatism and desire to help the bees. I'd like to try and share some of that positivity with you all. We can learn so much from our bees about working together for the greater good. We all have our different parts to play at different times in our lives. Whatever we do to help the bees…educating ourselves and others, volunteering or donating to research, planting flowers and encouraging biodiversity, we are on the same team. I appreciate you. Let's get excited to see advances in mycology and parasitology research and the overall popularity of natural beekeeping. There are a lot of opportunities for back to basic research which will hopefully lead to practical aid for our bees and beekeepers. I promise that Tree Hive Bees will continue to do our part to listen to the bees & work to inspire others to take a closer look at what we took away from the honey bee when we took them out of the trees.
Thanks again to all our supporters. Your excitement inspires me every day.