Humans have an odd relationship with preparedness – sometime we go overboard, sometimes we don’t react at all. Anyone remember scrubbing your hands after touching U.S mail back in 2000s the anthrax scare? Surgical masks during the H1N1 outbreak? Safety first.
Many of you saw the recent news story about the honeybee colonies in SC lost to Zika virus mosquito spraying. There was much discussion about this at last weekend’s First Sunday event in Pittsboro. The story and photos are sad. The losses to beekeepers and farmers in that area are significant (not to mention the native bee population). The lawmakers were hyper prepared but the beekeepers left in the dark. How this calamity of loss? Can it happen here?
Enter the experts… NC is blessed to have a very active Department of Agriculture and Extension service. These good folks coupled with the research powerhouse of NCSU stepped in to shed some light on these recent events. The NCSU Apiculture Department has issued this article about the Zika Virus, NC’s current plans, and recommendations for the public. You can read it here. It presents a balanced approach I think most folks can agree with.
An excellent tool the article references is NC FieldWatch, a voluntary registration program for specialty crop farmers, including beekeepers. This free online mapping program allows farmers & beekeepers to self-identify their location and alert neighboring farmers. The idea is to make it easy for farmers or other commercial enterprises which use insecticides, to see where hives and organic crops are being kept. Our hives are registered, both at our farm and those at Ninja Cow Farm.
But I think about all the bees who can’t register themselves (like those wily, feral bees living in trees and ground nests). So consider your options when it comes to mosquito control. In his article, NCSU’s Dr. Waldvogel notes several. NC’s bees will rest easier knowing we are on alert, just not hyper alert.