NDPMA heats up

Notre Dame's science department using innovative thermal treatment as part of its beekeeping maintenance program.

For years now, scientists have been warning about the decline of the honeybee population worldwide. Since bees are an essential part of the production of food for human civilization, without enough of them, many of our crops will not get the necessary pollination they need to grow. 

As a result of the drumbeat of warnings from those who know and study bees, there has been an increase in hobbyists, farmers, companies and organizations who keep bees, including Notre Dame Prep, all of whom are enhancing the chances of bees thriving today and into the future.

However, the threat of a decline in bees is still present. Among the more than 1,000 native bee species in the world today, more than half still are in decline, while 347 native bee species are at an increased risk of extinction, according to a 2017 report from the Center for Biological Diversity.

One of the major threats to bee populations is the parasitic mite, a pest that's been spreading throughout the U.S., Europe and elsewhere for a number of years. To combat this threat, there have been numerous ideas and solutions developed, including pesticides and other chemicals. 

But according to Jocelynn Yaroch, chair of NDPMA's science department, that might not be the most prudent way to address the problem.

"Traditional treatments utilize an array of chemicals, which increases pesticide resistance for the pests we are trying to get rid of and increases the pesticide load for the bees, which we're actively trying to avoid," she said. "So to keep our hives mite- and pest-free, we are utilizing thermal treatment and no chemicals." 

Yaroch and her colleagues employed the Mighty Mite Killer, manufactured by North Carolina-based Bee Hive Thermal Industries. She said the system increased the temperature in the school's four hives enough to kill the mites and mite larva, wax moth larva, and small hive beetles without harming the healthy bees.  

"This is absolutely the future of hive management and we are doing it," she said. "Also, we plan to give the hives one more heat treatment before winter."

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

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About Notre Dame 
Notre Dame is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named Michigan's best 50 Catholic high school three of the last four years (Niche.com). Notre Dame's lower and middle schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All Notre Dame schools have been authorized by International Baccalaureate as "World Schools" and the entire institution is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers. It is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org