The annual members' picnic was held July 14 at Lehigh Gap Nature Center. After everyone had their fill of the potluck food, the program moved to the Great Room of the Osprey House for some music and education.
Dr. Anita Collins talked about colony collapse disorder among honeybees. With the music on the program she said her teacher organized an all-girl accordion band and after the first concert her mother let her quit.
She was much more interested in bees and began the bee collection project at the nature center. Unfortunately they died when trapped. Cups were put out with Dawn which held the bees and they drowned.
Each bee received a chemical bath and was carefully dried with a hair dryer. The numbers and types of bees found were recorded. Collins made the initial identification before they were shipped to the US Geological Survey's biological branch.
Penn State University received money from Hagen Das, the ice cream company, to do research.
The first bees were found to have a common type of virus that was uncommon four to five years ago.
She said a hive could be a thriving colony one week and a week later the worker bees would be gone - only the young, the queen and honey remained.
If it was just pesticide it would destroy all the bees.
Neonicotinoids, based on nicotine affect bee behavior but not enough to be the reason.
Other things such as nutrition may be involved, said Collins. They need high quality pollen usually from a number of different sources. With the large areas of monoculture (one type of plant in a large area) the pollen is often of poor quality.
Some beekeepers are feeding high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar to overwinter and that may be having an impact.
There have been parasites since 1980 and miticides and insecticides get soaked up by the wax. Providing new wax on which the honeycombs are built seems to help when a third of the comb is changed each year. Even then it is still a problem some years.
Last year 75 percent of hives were lost though normally it is only 10 percent.
Corey Husic found the first Mediterranean wood chewing bee. Nature Center Director Dan Kunkle said they thought the wood chewing bees had been exterminated.
"We know where they are nesting. The USGS and state brought in SWAT teams," he said.
"Research is ongoing," Collins concluded.
A woman who works with the Hubbell telescope visited the center this summer, said Kunkle.
Corey Husic proved his interests extend beyond the nature work he is doing at the center. He and his father, Dave, played a song with Dave on guitar and Corey on fiddle. Then Dave joined him with a fiddle as they played several more songs.
Dave said the Celtic fiddles came over to Appalachia and as the Blue Ridge is followed south the music changes. Their first song was "Banshee," an Irish tune.
Rick Gaeta said Collin's story was the "bees knees." He read some original poetry beginning with "A Rainbow's Dance." When a trout is caught it seems to dance as it is brought to the surface.
He said he won a prize for one of his nature poems, "Greeting Brother Wolf," whieh ends with a wolf howl. "A Raptorsy in Blue," was dedicated to the hawk watchers.
Kunkle said it had been published in The Activist newsletter.
"That's right. Where are my royalties?" asked Gaeta.
After his poetry reading he picked up a guitar and sang several original songs.
He submitted a song to the Pennsylvania Heritage Contest which requires a Pennsylvania theme. The song is "Roll On, Susquehanna."
The Husics came back with an encore to finish the indoor evening. It was a hand-clapping Irish tune.
Corey and a friend, Steve Kloiber, put a sheet across the rail on the porch and used a light to attract insects, a program that has been done before and is always enjoyed.
Joren Husic had been going to get the center's telescope out but the night was cloudy.