Bee Phage and Bee Thieves

February 21, 2007

Bad news on the bee disease front.  As if Varroa Destructor (cool name for a parasite, eh?) wasn’t bad enough, there’s some new plague hounding the American bee population, Colony Collapse Disorder (originally Fall Dwindle Disease, a less impressive but more Carrollesque name).

According to the New York Times:

The ailment has killed off tens of thousands of honeybee colonies in at least 21 states…threatening the livelihood of commercial beekeepers and potentially putting a strain on fruit growers and other farmers that rely on bees to pollinate their crops.

Bee researchers from Pennsylvania and Montana who have spent the last couple weeks in California collecting test samples said they have heard stories of beekeepers having lost colonies by the thousands, forcing them to return home with no work and few bees.

Crap-o.  Maybe I’ll switch to tapping sugar maples.

While reading some articles on the disorder, I came across mention of Bee Alert Technology, Inc., a Montanan company that was surveying beekeepers regarding the disorder. I was curious what they did when there wasn’t a pandemic threatening the US bee population, so I googled their web site.

Incredibly, they specialize in hive security.  From their web site:

HiveTracker™ uses tiny devices called Radio Frequency (RF) transmitters…to specifically identify valuable assets such as beehives. These tags can be located using special equipment from distances up to 1,500 feet, meaning that it is very difficult to hide any hive marked with HiveTracker™. Working with Bee Alert Technology, Inc., you can now locate your valuable assets from a low-flying aircraft…We also provide you with HiveTracker™ identification stickers which you should affix to a prominent location to warn potential thieves…

HiveSentry™ is a satellite or cell-phone/internet reporting station that calls you when any of your beehives or pallets move.

Amazing!  There are beehive thieves out there.  And beehive thief chasers, tracking them in low-flying aircraft.  I mean, wouldn’t it seem like the best security against thieves stealing your hives is that they’re filled with bees?!

Apparently not.

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