Every year about this time were given the latest bee loss numbers along with the comment that the losses are unsustainable. Such was the case again this year. About a decade ago Zachary Huang at MSU estimated the value of honey bees to Michigan crops at around $460 million per year. He updated that figure with new data available in 2009 and discovered the states vegetable industry produces over two billion dollar per year and nearly half of that is due entirely to honey bee pollination. Huang says thats more than 100 times the value of honey alone. Talk about added value. Given the honey bees critical importance to Michigan agriculture its crucial beekeepers promote colony health after a brutal winter. Ben Phillips with the MSU Extension and entomologist Walt Petts article on ensuring beehive success this spring asks apiarists to supplement overwintered hives with light syrup and perhaps a pollen substitute to keep the new brood fed during a slow transition to spring. They say surviving queens have been laying eggs since January and the growing hive may need help if honey and pollen stores are depleting. Also incorporating fumagilin in the syrup after it has cooled is recommended for nosema control. A billion is on the line if you do. Nowthats sweeter than honey.
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