Bundy’s Bees: A Different Kind of Agricultural Worker
3e+10. That’s the number my calculator gave me when I tried to figure out how many flowers Bill Bundy’s bees might pollenate each day.
I don’t know what 3e+10 means.
Bundy tends 100 bee hives, which are widely distributed throughout western Loudoun and eastern Clarke counties. Eight of them are here at Great Country Farms, and a dozen more are across the Shenandoah River on the Cool Spring Farm fields where we raise a lot of our vegetables. At this time of year, the population of each hive is about 60,000 bees, Bundy says, and each of them might visit as many as 5,000 flowers per day, according to the website Wonderopolis.
raise sheep and make yarn, so in 1996 they bought a small farm in what was then still rural Loudoun County. The farm next door, it so happened, was managed by a guy named Billy Davis, who was one of the founders of theLoudoun Beekeepers Association, which offers bee-keeping courses and a wealth of information about every aspect of the craft.
“He convinced my wife to attend one of his classes,” Bundy said, “and she dragged me along. Before long, she dropped out, and here I am almost twenty years later with a hundred hives. I teach that class now.”
The class meets two hours a week for six weeks, and it covers essential information for novices, including equipment, woodenware, bee biology, seasonality, plants, nectar sources, pests, and diseases that might effect a colony of bees.
Bee diseases have been in the news a lot lately because a phenomenon calledColony Collapse Disorder has destroyed some ten million hives in the past six years, eighty to ninety percent of the wild bee population in America, by some estimates. In a report released a year ago, the United States Department of Agriculture asserted that, “currently, the survivorship of honey bee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of US agricultural crops.”
That’s an alarming statement.
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