My bees in Texas looked pretty good 3 weeks ago, and a friend's bees looked excellent this first week of February. Even though our bees sit about 50 miles from the Gulf Coast and natural pollen comes in good every few days, there is no drone brood to speak of. Too many cold snaps. Even rare ice and snowstorms have shut down drone production. Spring beekeeping in the deep south will be behind schedule this year for sure. Early queens will be a problem.
Other than the weather, there's just a few things to report on. The summer meeting will be in St. Cloud July 17,18,&19th at the Kelly Inn. Jack Hoffman, our new vice president will have more info on that. We are working on an off site activity. And, the folks from Ag in the Classroom will put on a breakout session Friday the 18th after lunch. If you would like to learn how to do presentations and how to approach schools in your area etc... this part of the program is for you. We hope to have 30-50 beekeepers attend this session.
Gypsy moth quarantine for St. Louis and Cook counties. This doesn't affect too many of us at this point, yet There is a comment period coming up. Go to the MDA website to read up on it.
CRP, I believe a new seed mix for honeybees is available. Heavy in legumes. I also believe CRP payments have gone up, to make enrollment more attractive to landowners. This new seed mix formulation must be requested, they are not pushing it hard yet. I went to my local NRCS office in late Jan. to order trees for a windbreak and to check on this seed mix. It was very frustrating. They knew nothing of the new seed formulation. Wanted to plant the native stuff for me. I explained that it wasn't beneficial to honeybees. They just shrugged. At my office, apparently they just want to throw things in the ground and collect your $. When it came to tree selection for my sandy soil, they didn't care what species I selected. I believe if the MN DNR grew palm trees, they'd plant them for me. Survivability didn't matter. I couldn't get them to check into anything, had to keep insisting we print out the aerial photo and map out what I wanted done. I will check again this spring on the seed mix. Apparently, its too new yet.
Lastly, the bee lab for the university. The MHPA has pledged $50,000.00 over 5 years to UofM honeybee lab construction. Conrad, Jack, and myself met with Cynthia Cashman from the University. She will be looking for donors to match our pledge. She has a lot of ideas for individuals and corporations to participate. She will be at our summer convention and will speak for 20 minutes or so. She seems to be a real go getter and will have more info on the status of the bee lab this summer. Right now, the bee lab is in the bonding bill stage. At this point it does not have a bill # attached to it yet. However, we need people to contact their state reps to support this bill. Last year, it failed by 4 or 5 votes mainly because Gov. Dayton said he would veto it. This year at last report, he is in favor of it. However, this doesn't make it a slam dunk. The politicians were impressed last year by our industry's support for the lab. We need to impress them again. This year is our best chance of getting it passed. The passage of the bill, will ensure that Minnesota will have a honeybee program at the University of Minnesota forever. Mn beekeepers will be the direct beneficiaries of the new bee lab. That's why the MHPA is pledging $50k towards the construction. This level of support will help in passage of the bill. Due to the importance of the lab to the Upper Midwest, we believe beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike from the region will support our efforts.
Everyone, take care, hope your bees are fine, and please take a few minutes to email your state representatives. An e-blast will be sent out to all MHPA members on the gypsy moth and bee lab issues