Why do we migrate?

Why would we put our family through this every six months for the last 25 years? We also ask ourselves that as the time draws near to make the migration and begin that transition from one side of the country to the next and moving our entire lives with us. But, as it turns out, there is a logical and rewarding reason for this, and no, it’s not to escape the cold and vacation in the Sunshine state, although that certainly is a perk (minus the vacation, that part is myth). As it turns out, moving the bees out of Wisconsin in the winter does help to truly save the bees. Winter losses are the main reason why we initially began this patterned lifestyle of migrating from the cold in Wisconsin to the warmth of Florida over the winter months in the early 90’s.                            
At the time, the varroa mites were wreaking havoc on the beehives that we had diligently nurtured and treated against mites, yet the bees were still dying off in astonishing percentages, as high as 75% loss.  We were forced to make a drastic change in our lifestyle, but we haven’t looked back.

 

So, why do we return to Wisconsin at all? It also happens that over the summer months our bees thrive out of the oppressing Florida heat and humidity and in the more tolerable Wisconsin Summers. We haven’t spent any summers in Florida with our bees, but lots of beekeepers attempt to, this often costs the beekeepers many hives lost to the small hive beetles (the most present detriment to the bees), which attack the bee’s honey and brood rather than the bees themselves. Hives left in Florida also must be fed through much of the summer starting in July on until February. This makes staying in Florida a poor solution to the equation.

 

What is our solution? Migration of course. Migrating allows the best of both worlds for the bees and their health potential while also offering the bees natural commodities demanding less outside medicating and feeding. In addition to the positive outcome on the health of the bees, migrating also helps our business and family to thrive with the diversity of farm productivity through the entire year. 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 financially, and health wise for the bees if one crop fails-which in farming does happen.