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President's Message


Well, here we are, 2020 is finally over!

I can't find a single person who’s sorry to see it go. I can't blame anyone wanting to wish it away and hoping that this next year will be a better one. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions hoping to make 2021 better?

Spoiler alert! Did you know that 80% of the people who make a New Year's resolution abandon it by the second week in February? There’s a mountain of reasons as to why people give up on them. Maybe the resolutions we made are just too hard to accomplish, maybe they’re unattainable from the very beginning, or maybe there’s just no one to hold us accountable to see the resolutions through. Anything sound familiar?

I would like to suggest a New Year's resolution that I hope everyone could keep throughout the New Year. It wouldn't be too hard, certainly would be attainable, and there would be someone to hold us accountable. I’d like to see my fellow colleagues mentor someone. I know that there’s a lot of great talent out there, and not necessarily just within the realms of veterinary medicine. There are a lot of amazing people within our membership who have talents far beyond what we do day-to-day. How great would it be if we could spend some time passing along those great talents and enrich the lives of others? And don't just think that you have to pass that special gift along to someone who is young. I made this resolution last year and I've had the pleasure of mentoring two individuals who wanted to start a small scale apiary in their own backyards. One individual was in his 50s and the other was in his 70s. Both still had an interest in wanting to learn something new. It was a great learning experience not only for them, but myself as well. The biggest reward for me was to experience their inspiration and their dedication to something they truly loved and wanted to learn about. I will be mentoring 2 more this year. So, make 2021 a great year not only for you but for someone else as well. Don’t hide that talent. And if you're still wondering whether mentoring someone is the right fit for you, please take time to ponder these words from actor Will Smith. "If you are not making someone else's life better, then you're wasting your time. Your life will become better by making someone else's life better."

I know the suspense has been eating you up all month. In my last newsletter I asked you to guess how much honey and/or sugar it takes to sustain a bee colony throughout the winter. Well, big reveal, it takes 70 to 80 pounds of honey or sugar for a single colony of bees to make it through the winter until spring when the flowers begin to bloom again. As I had mentioned earlier, bees don’t hibernate once it gets cold; they remain active and need a constant source of energy to keep the colony warm. That energy source is either the honey or sugar solution that they have stored away in the honeycombs for the winter. I get some weird looks at Sam's Club in the checkout line when I have 400 lbs. of sugar in my cart every fall to feed the bees. Just call me Willy Wonka I guess. I overwinter my bees in a single brood box. I want that box + the bees + the frames + all the honey and sugar stores to weigh 90-100 pounds or more by late fall or early winter to hopefully ensure they have enough food stores to make it through the season. So having enough food stores for the colony to make it through the winter is essential and can be a cause of colony loss if they run out.

The metabolism of these food stores leads us into another cause of colony loss for the winter, water vapor inside the colony. If you think back to that equation where C6 H12 O6 = energy produced + CO2 + H2O. Yeah, I know, it's the kind of equation that can revive that old nightmare you didn't get into vet school because you completely forgot to take your biochemistry scares me too!! But using that equation, for every kilogram of honey or sugar metabolized it creates 600 mL of water vapor within the hive. With 70-80 lbs. of honey or sugar in the colony to metabolize, that can be over 20 liters of water produced. Without good ventilation in the colony, that water vapor condenses and freezes on the top lid of the hive during the winter, then drips back on the bees on a warmer day when it melts. Bees can tolerate the cold, but they cannot tolerate being wet when it is cold. This concept too can play a major factor in why a colony does not survive the winter. I have learned that the difficulty in beekeeping is knowing how much food stores to keep in your hives and how much ventilation is needed to keep the bees warm without condensation building up inside the colony. To me, both are an art.

Happy New Year!

James R. Berger, DVM