"It's hard to believe that in just three weeks the National Cherry Festival will begin. We'll be continuing a program that we kicked off last year. Every day during the Cherry Festival from 1-3 PM we'll have an Open House at the station. Besides tours of our research activities and facility, we'll also have educational displays and activities about industry."
Jim said that the big news so far this year had to do with a small and often overlooked group of "farmhands"...the bees. "It's been a real tough year for the honey producers, a terrible year. An average of over 70% of domestic honey bees were lost over the winter. The combination of bee mites and hard winter left the honey producers short of bees. As you know, bees are absolutely essential for the fruit industry. Without their action there would be no cherry or strawberry crops. The hard winter and the mites took an even greater toll on the feral (wild) honeybees. Usually, growers will supplement feral bees with commercial bees, but we are now at the point where we need to depend on the commercial bees. This year they had to ship them in from out of state. I will say that our local beekeepers did a really fine job working with growers and each other to get the bees where they were needed. To have losses like that are just astounding. I feel for the keepers. The one positive thing in all this is that honey prices have gone way up. Bees were difficult to get and high priced, but that's something that's going to be hard to recover from."The Northern Michigan Journal will provide regular updates to this report and if you are interested in providing information, please e-mail or call 616-256-2829.