Why do we migrate?
Why would we put our family through this every six months for the last 21 years? That’s a very good question, one that we often ask each other as the time approaches when we need to make the move from one end of the country to the other! It turns out there are very logical reasons for doing what we do. No, it doesn’t have nearly as much to do with trying to avoid the summer heat of Florida or the winter cold of Wisconsin as it does with the bees.
So, it turns out that moving the bees out of Wisconsin in the winter does help save the bees. Winter bee losses are the main reason why we initially began migrating in the early 90’s. The varroa mites were wreaking havoc on the beehives that we had diligently tried to feed, and treat against mites and were still dying off in astonishing percentages as high as 75% losses. We were forced to make a drastic change in our lifestyle.
It also turns out that getting the beehives out of the heat of the Florida summer does help to save the bees. The Werner’s haven’t spent any summers in Florida with their bees, but lots of beekeepers attempt to, this often costs the beekeepers many hives lost to small hive beetles, which attack the bee’s honey and brood rather than the bees themselves. Hives left in Florida also have to be fed through a lot of the summer July onward. This makes staying in Florida an incomplete solution to the equation, as well.
Migrating adds diversity to our farms productivity. We can devote ourselves to raising queens in the winter months and honey in the summer months; thus giving ourselves a second chance each season to provide for our family financially and to keep the bees as healthy as possible.