We’re scaling up our bee breeding project this year. You can find out more by reading the initial proposal here or watching the video as we installed our first colonies on YouTube.
Anybody following the news knows that honeybees are in crisis. Bees are a critical link not only in the human food chain but the entire ecosystem. Pesticides, insecticides, and disease contribute to colony collapse disorder, but the biggest problem facing the North American honeybees today is the parasitic, disease-transmitting Varroa mite. Unfortunately, the answer of the beekeeping industry is to adopt DuPont’s motto: “better living through chemistry.” They use insecticides in the hives to kill mites, but using poisons in an enclosed space is worrying for the honey you eat and—more importantly—the bees’ health and long-term chances for survival. Beekeepers in Asia, Africa, Wales, and Gotlund have bred bees that don’t need chemical treatments to survive, but two impediments keep this solution out of North American hives: economic concerns and lack of knowledge. This project seeks to overcome these hurdles, but we need help to move beyond our pilot study to full-scale implementation.
Thanks to Our Partners
Last fall we put out a call for organizations, individuals, or any other entity interested in partnering with us in this endeavor. Since then, we’ve gotten support from a variety of sources. Without them, we would not be where we are.
Agrecol Native Nursery is a neighbor, sponsor, and host of this project. In addition to providing space and financial support, Agrecol’s staff has been incredibly helpful in pointing us to the best locations to put our hives. We’re trying to maximize the pollination of their crops by putting our hives near the plants that need it most. Please visit their website and consider purchasing prairie seeds or other services from them.
Double Daves Pizza–Buda was the first sponsor of this project and inspired the whole idea of approaching small organizations to partner with us on this work. Double Daves serves up yummy pizza in Texas, and if you’re in the Austin area, stop by the Buda location and tell them the bees sent you.
Zeshan Usman operates Usman Law Firm in Madison, specializing in representing folks dealing with debt, insurance companies, and discriminatory convictions. He’s also a beekeeper and has sponsored a hive in our project. Thanks Zeshan!
Cooper and Cara Thomas are friends of the institute and are starting Big Pig Farmstead west of Madison. They have been helpful volunteers at institute events and general all-around friendly and good people. Give them a follow on social media.
Chris Beebe is our neighbor and renaissance man: ostensible car collector, mechanic, and restorer, he is also a musician, engineer, draftsman, fabricator, and generally nice guy. He had a stash of beehives in his garage (well, one of them) and donated them to us for using this summer. Much appreciated!
Our local hardware store is also lending a hand: Stoughton Lumber/Ace Hardware. They have been really helpful with materials and supplies for building and maintaining our hives. If you live south of Madison, consider giving them a visit.
Plenty of Room and Need for More Help
As we thank our partners, we also are keeping the door open for more help. Frankly, we need it. As much as we appreciate all the support, we must continue to expand this summer, and this needs help. Right now, we’re just staying ahead of our woodenware needs, that is, we have just enough bee equipment to house what we have now. In about two months, we’ll need to double what we have, and then a month later we’d need to expand again. This requires capital and/or equipment. We have applied to grants, but in this current time of pandemic and financial uncertainty, granting agencies are delaying or suspending their programs.
At this time, all of the hours spent on this project by institute staff and partners is voluntary. It is one thing for us to volunteer our time, but we would really like to help out our partner, Paul, who has been and remains an indispensable part of this project.
If you or your organization is interested in helping further this project (find out here about ways we can work together), please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-886-9LTI to discuss how we can work together on this.