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Mar 30 13 12:14 PM

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Most of the time, like perhaps most of us, my life seems to resist a strong embrace of the, "Oh shit, we're toast!" - sort of world view (I've got waaaay too many friends on FaceBook for this to really be real. I mean really, you know what I mean?)

All kidding aside, perhaps the most troubling observation -- having been on this patch of hand-cleared 'ohia forest for some 15 years now -- is the near complete absence of motherfucking honeybees (and I use the term quite literally). As the blossoms of spring...blossom, I swear I only see black flies and fruit flies crawling upon the flowers. THAT gets my attention, and would seem to portend something nearly unmentionable. I'm not sure what utility posting such a thing serves, and fucked feedback loops such as the gulf stream wonking out into melted ice-cubes in our planetary punch is troubling for sure, but what are others' observations regarding bees at their place? Also, does anyone have opinion about if those fruit fly traps will contribute to better fruit set on say, avocado and citrus? Mahalo.

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#1 [url]

Mar 30 13 1:09 PM

I also am seeing fewer bees up here on the Hamakua Coast .
I used to see lots of  the little wild bee that looks like a fly but she is
absent this spring .

Saw this in the Hilo paper .
http://hilo.hawaiitribune-herald.com/sections/news/local-news/islands-bees-peril.html

There are other pollinators here……ants , wasps , etc …but the bees have 
been our main  ones.

I have been planting more basil ….the bees love the flowers.

Darren , I don't think the fruit fly traps will help the fruit set. The fruit fly stings fruits and vegetables after they have set and causes the fruit to rot before it ripens . 
There is not much we can do when the pollinators are gone. You can become a bee by taking a cotton swab and gently sticking it in each blossom of 
your squash or whatever. All the vanilla beans here are pollinated that way.
I see that becoming a new job of the future .

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#3 [url]

Apr 1 13 3:45 PM

I'm noticing somewhat the opposite up here. And so, allow this to serve as an example that any perceived pollination armegedon is not global. Right now, I'm looking at honey, bumble, mason and sweat bees argue over the wild cherry blossoms, and our earliest plums. Also trying to swat buzzing yellow jacket queens on the side.... For said plum trees, the issue in 2009-2012 has been heavy April showers knocking off it's relatively early blossoms. It has continued to be warm and eye openingly dry here (haven't had a shirt on all day) and so I imagine more of these plums this year.
As I am just learning that native Hawaiin bees are susceptible to similar issues as European honey bees, might I suggest mainland native mason bees. Even more effective as pollinators, they nest very differently. In deep, narrow holes that are sealed just like a mud wasp does. Pretty widely available these days, eg. http://www.orchardbees.com/. Watching those plum trees again.... They move from flower to flower more quickly than the honey bees.
I've actually never bought any of them, rather have just provided plenty of rain sheltered 1/4" x ~7" holes around the property with the cordless drill and scrap wood. The diameter is important due to their size. The depth, to encourage a balance of male and female eggs in the nest.

Here's to avoiding the vision of Darren with cotton swabs taped to all fingers, toes, ears and nose. Resplendent with wings on his back! ;)

Derl

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#4 [url]

Apr 2 13 9:14 AM

Are you guys noticing any uptick in yellow jacket population? I recalled a Nature episode on OPB's website talking about their extreme tanacity in Hawaii. Apparently devastating to other insect populations as the nest never dies off in winter. Vivid footage of one eating a poor honey bee.

Derl

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#5 [url]

Apr 2 13 12:06 PM

Derl,

Glad to hear the bees are doing their thing over your way. As for yellow jackets, I have noticed them around. Thanks for the scoops. I'm gonna have a look for that info you mention. I imagine that getting into beekeeping would be my best proactive approach, but the homesteader list just seems lengthy already, heh.

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#6 [url]

Apr 2 13 7:56 PM

No worries, I hear you. Always something on the list. Mason bees are pretty easy if you decide to give it a try. Just provide the right size holes at the right time, they do the rest.

Derl

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#7 [url]

Apr 3 13 10:56 AM

"From all appearances -- from our tests in the field and from the copious research, and little papers, and grants that have kept our scientific community in beer and sandwiches and our kids in iPads and xboxes -- we've come to the empirical science solution that":

Monsanto is lame.

Yes, a divisive statement. And I'll probably always wonder if sprinkling a little Roundup on my kikuyu grass would have eradicated it, but my intuition tells me that it's very probable that there will be a time, not far long off, when I'll wish that a little kikuyu grass was my worst enemy.

Viva Masanobu Fukuoka !


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#8 [url]

Apr 7 13 12:05 AM


Actually I had a swarm of bees move into my living room here about a week or so ago while I was at work-- some nudging with a broom encouraged them to move out someplace else. Bees have been down seasonably but I've seen a few more. Rough scene in general. There's plenty of big yellow jackets at the lower elevations but I don't see too much up here-- some carpenter bees but even less of those.

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#9 [url]

Apr 7 13 12:26 PM

Funny. Darren: And just where are the mf'ing honey bees!
Jay: Um... In my living room.

Kind of a cool experience assuming you managed to avoid many stings. I've seen a couple swarms fly over this place, none have came down into a tree or anything. I've considered building a top bar hive and trying to attract some. Not sure if I want to sign myself up as a honeybee keeper either.

Derl

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#10 [url]

Apr 12 13 10:29 PM

FWIW I saw a bee at my place in Eden Roc a couple of days ago.

I don't know what the real cause of CCD is.  No one really does of course or there wouldn't be any controversy.  I thought I read that the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus was behind it.  I also keep hearing that neonicotinoid pesticides are to blame.  The bee mites are a very significant factor, either in spreading the viruses or simply being yet another burden on the stressed bees.

Anyway if it is commercial pesticides then backyard beekeepers in the wilds of Puna far from any commercial fields should do better than the commercial hives.  There are those who suggest that the bees have simply been stretched too thin what with being moved all over all the time, mixed and matched with countless other hives, and having their honey replaced with corn syrup.  Those causes are definitely an oversimplification because that would not explain why all hell has broken loose in the last few years.  Something is definitely out there.

Supposedly honey has antibiotic properties.  Gee too bad there isn't some stuff we could like feed the bees that would help protect them against outside infectious agents.

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#12 [url]

Apr 17 13 2:04 PM

I know of two swarms the last 2 days - one in Honomu and one in Hilo at the Community College.

If you are interested in beekeeping as a hobby or more, the Big Island Beekeepers Association has several members who give classes on a fairly regular basis, some free, some with fees.

You can look at the facebook page - 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Island-Beekeepers-Association/247033161978013?ref=tn_tnmn

or the new website is http://BigIslandBeekeepers.com. It is slowly getting up and going, but does have monthly meeting notices and the schedule of apiary days in Hilo.

I'm just starting out with beekeeping and am excited to see others join in to help us all this way.

Peggy

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#13 [url]

Jul 21 13 10:55 AM


February or March, I noticed many blossoms on my citrus trees, but the orange trees have no fruit, the grapefruit, maybe 2 or 3 , no lemons and very few tangerines, also with a few different vines of lillikoi, not much fruit to speak of there either. I tried to pollinate the apple blossoms back then, not thinking it would work, but I had about 10 apples...maybe from me pollinating?  What a surprise?
I've only seen bees resembling yellow jackets, and plenty of fruit flies. 
  I only purchased this lot the year before with all these great treasures already on and was surprised that yellow delicious apples would grow here at 2300'. 
My small coffee trees are in bloom!  Should I pollinate those, too? 
So is that the answer to my lack of citrus fruit or is it in the pruning as someone mentioned to me?Bananas are going great, guess they don't need pollinating!

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#14 [url]

Jul 23 13 11:55 AM

That citrus scenario sounds similar to what I've experienced here at 1800' as well. Still, I think a person would be remiss to not consider the hearty rainfall and its patterns upon the blossoms, etc. Also, of late, I've been considering what various plants/trees are subjected to when they are in the drip lines of 'ohia trees or other trees for that matter. I wonder if that introduces a yet more acidic blotting, or just a whole 'nuther community of stuff to mess with the blossoms, etc. And then, in the confessional part of my reporting, I'm pretty sure I've not limed the soil as much as its analysis would indicate. Also, as regards feeding, and with all the rain, that probably has not been optimal either. Btw, and I don't recall if someone fielded this question: Would setting those plastic bottle/attractant fruit fly traps be of benefit, in anyone's upper puna experience? Lastly, as regards your coffee, it also responds well to feeding. In my particulary 'life-economy', the question is more: Do I have the time/effort to expend the significant labor that harvesting coffee demands? For now, I keep my dozen or so, just hanging out. Once my fix from say, Cost-u-less dries up, why I'll have to bump that job up the list! (Or deal with my ...habit.)
Darren

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#16 [url]

Jul 27 13 2:32 PM

While I was in Na'alehu in January the grapefruit and lemons were loaded w/ fruit, new blossoms and honeybees (presumably from the stacks of hives three miles west of the place).  Of course, the water was mostly being purchased/pumped/piped in from up the mountain.  Seemingly not much free from the sky stuff in comparison to Puna and up the east coast.  Much more vog to deal with.  Trade offs...

I've heard that others in the Hilo area are experimenting with  Ilex Paraguariensis (the Yerba Mate tree).  No manual pollination needed there as it's leaves are used rather than the "fruit" like coffee.  Lots of antioxidants, some caffeine too.


Derl

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