Bees Starve in Their Hives

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: June 11, 1903

Bees Starve in Their Hives

Cold and Wet Weather is Likely to Be Responsible for Failure of Honey Crop.

Bees are Unable to Be Busy.

Ernest Bernschein, of This City, Has Lost Over 140 Colonies Valued at $700, As Rsult of the Inclement Weather.

Ernest Bernchein (sic), Fort Dodge’s apiarist reports that the conituned (sic) rain and cold weather of the past month is ruining the Iowa honey crop and killing off hundreds of swarms of bees. Mr. Bernschein himself has lost over 140 colonies valued at 4700. He predicts that if the wet weather continues the Iowa honey crop will be a failure this year.

During the cold damp weather the bees are unable to extract the nectar from the blossoms. For this reason when many of the hives are opened, the busy little inhabitants are found upon the verge of starvation; the bees having obtained little nourishment since last July.

The bees are now supposed to be taking advantage of the sweet clover which abounds in the vicinity of Fort Dodge and laying up many pounds of honey but for once they are doing nothing as the clover is too wet to extract much of the honey. In order to keep the remaining colonies alive Mr. Bernschein is resorting to an expensive method of feeding them sweetened water. In less than two hours Wednesday afternoon six gallons of this was drunk by Mr. Bernschein’s honey giving insects. This was the first year that Mr. Bernschein has resorted to this method of keeping his bees alive.

Mr. Bernschein has one hundred colonies left and if a favorable change occurs in the weather seventy-five pound of honey may be averaged from these swarms making all 60,000 pounds of honey, but this would be a very short crop. Honey will probably sell for twenty-five cents a pound this year. Last year with a favorable crop it brought twenty cents. It is expected that the inclement weather will boom the price skyward.

(Editor’s note: This inflation calculator says that 25 cents in 1903 is equivalent to $5.99 in 2010 dollars.)

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