Fortunately I got to spend some time with the president of the American Beekeepers Federation (ABF) Dave Mendes. Dave runs a large commercial beekeeping operation out of Florida. For those who are not familiar with Dave, he was featured in the two films about Colony Collapse Disorder, Vanishing of the Bees and Colony. In these two films he was at a state of pure frustration. Beekeepers, like him, were losing their colonies in great numbers. Losses as great as 60% were being reported and this by beekeepers whose hives numbered in the thousands. I’m sure most of you have read or heard about this unless you’ve been living under a rock.
Well I was glad to find out all is not doom and gloom. I consider Dave a very smart beekeeper and a really good manager. In his words “I’m doing just fine”. He said, this experience has made him and others better beekeepers. His population of hives is on the increase, I think he said he is now up to 12,000. They’ve added their own Queen breeding program with a staff to assist in grafting the young larva and finding matted Queens. They have also done some supplemental feeding to build up colonies when necessary. One thing he has stopped doing is wintering his colonies in the orange groves. It’s widely known that these areas are treated with copious amounts of pesticides.
Dave’s focus now is on organizing the annual meeting of ABF to be held in Las Vegas this coming January. Maybe the fact that Vegas was chosen for next year’s meeting is telling, beekeeping today is a gamble at best.