In 2015 the bees are still dying in masses. Which at first seems not very important until you realize that one third of all food humans consume would disappear with them. Millions could starve. The foes bees face are truly horrifying – some are a direct consequence of human greed. We need to help our small buzzing friends or we will face extremely unpleasant consequences.
By HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki
It is the natural reproductive urge of honey bees to build up numbers in the Spring in order to swarm and establish new colonies. This activity has other benefits for bees besides the increasing of numbers—it helps bees cleanse their colonies of carpetbagging diseases and pests by initiating a break in the brood rearing cycle. Many pathogens depend on a continuous occupancy of the brood nest and young bees, so when the swarm leaves the hive and takes up to two weeks to find a suitable cavity, draw comb, and the queen commences egg laying, the pathogens drop away.
So for the time being, the ongoing drought is affecting the forage sources of the bees such that fewer have the numbers to swarm successfully, are making less honey, and finding less pollen for raising brood.
Burt Shavitz, Namesake And Co-Founder Of Burt’s Bees, Dies
By Lucy Perkins via npr.org
Burt Shavitz, the man whose face is on your minty Burt’s Bees lip balm and body wash, died on Sunday in Bangor, Maine. He was 80.
NPR’s Elizabeth Blair reports that Shavitz’s death resulted from respiratory complications.
“We remember him as a wild-bearded and free-spirited Maine man, a beekeeper, a wisecracker, a lover of golden retrievers, a reverent observer of nature, and the kind of face that smiles back at us from our Hand Salve,” the company says in a statement.
Burt’s Bees says that before Shavitz became a beekeeper in Maine, he was a photojournalist freelancing in New York City, documenting key figures in the civil rights movement, beat poets and artists in the 1960s.
When TV became popular, Shavitz realized that there wasn’t a big market for his photos anymore, The Daily Beast wrote in 2013.
It adds that:
“In 1970, Burt threw his mattress in his Volkswagen van and, along with a few buddies, drove upstate to the High Falls, New York, area. After a series of heavy rainstorms, Burt decided to drive around and survey the damage. He stumbled upon a swarm of bees on a fencepost.
” ‘The year before, a guy that I’d been buying honey from, who was a beekeeper, had given me everything I needed to be a beekeeper except the bees — a hive, a mask, gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, everything,’ Burt recalls. ‘So, there was this fencepost, and I said, “My lord, this is an act of God! I can’t turn this down.” ‘ “
Burt’s Bees began in 1984 when Shavitz met an artist named Roxanne Quimby. According to the company’s website, Quimby “was thumbing a ride home (back when you could still do that sort of thing). Eventually a bright yellow Datsun pickup truck pulled over, and Roxanne instantly recognized Burt Shavitz, a local fella whose beard was almost as well-known as his roadside honey stand. Burt and Roxanne hit it off, and before long, Roxanne was making candles with unused wax from Burt’s beehives. They made $200 at their first craft fair; within a year, they’d make $20,000.”
The company grew and moved its headquarters to Durham, N.C., in 1993. But Shavitz’s partnership with Quimby unraveled in the late ’90s. The Daily Beast,citing Shavitz and a documentary titled Burt’s Buzz, says the two reached a settlement after Quimby found out Burt had an affair with a college-age girl who worked at one of the Burt’s Bees stores.
Quimby eventually bought out Shavitz. Burt’s Bees is now owned by the Clorox Co.
Here’s the trailer for Burt’s Buzz. It’s a small window onto the life of the unorthodox man who, as Elizabeth reports, “co-founded a skincare company that began with beeswax.”
[view original article via npr.org]
By Sarah Knapton via telegraph.co.uk
Beekeepers have joined forces with Winnie-the-Pooh to encourage children to bake with local honey, visit nearby apiaries and throw seed-bombs
Winnie-the Pooh might be a ‘bear of very little brain’ but even he has become troubled to learn that his beloved treat of honey is under threat by the continuing decline of Britain’s bees.
New figures from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) showed the colonies declined by 14.5 per cent last winter, 50 per cent more than the previous year, despite efforts to tackle to the problem by banning pesticides.
Now the BBKA has teamed up with Pooh illustrator Mark Burgess, who coloured E H Shepherd’s original black-and-white drawings, to produce a brand new story – Winnie-the-Pooh and the Missing Bees – as well as a guide to saving the honeybees.
In the new story, Pooh and Piglet decide to visit the honeybees after noticing a honey shortage in The Hundred Acre Wood.
Speaking to Piglet, Pooh says: “I have been very careful with it, Piglet, as there hasn’t been much honey lately. But you can only be careful for so long before you run out altogether.”
Beekeepers are also h oping to engage children by encouraging them to bake with local honey, become beekeepers, visit nearby apiaries and throw seed-bombs to help the spread of wildflowers.
New illustrations show AA Milne’s characters Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and Pooh making a vegetable patch in the Yorkshire Dales, building a bee box in the shadow of the Angel of the North in Gateshead, and planting a flowering tree in the shadow of Warwick Castle.
Planting a bee-friendly tree beneath Warwick Castle
The friends are also pictured dropping bee-balls in Birmingham, painting in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire and visiting a honey show in Glastonbury.
Nicole Pearson, Associate Publisher from Egmont Publishing which publishes the Pooh books said: “Winnie-the-Pooh is famed for his love of honey, so who better to encourage families to get out and about and take part in fun activities that can help support our honey bees.
“We’re very excited to be working with the BBKA to support such a worthwhile cause.”
A survey by the BBKA found that 58 per cent of people wanted to help stop the decline of bees but do not know how to go about it.
“While many people are aware of the plight of the honey bee, there are many that don’t know what they can do to help,” said David Aston, President of the British Beekeepers Association.
“We hope that by supporting our ‘Friends of the Honey Bee’ initiative with the brand new guide inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh, families across the country can get involved, making a practical contribution and supporting bee health research.”
Planting a bee friendly vegetable patch in the Yorkshire Dales
The BBKA annual study surveyed 900 British beekeepers selected at random, to establish the impact that last winter has had on honey bee colonies
Some regions have been more greatly affected by bee decline than others. The west has seen drops of 18 per cent, the North East 15.5 per cent and the East of England 14.7 per cent,
While the exact cause is unknown, scientists have speculated that pesticides, pathogens, mites, poor weather and changing beekeeping practices have all contributed to the decline.
Last month scientists in California suggested that a tiny parasite could be behind the rapid colony collapse while researchers at Keele and Sussex Universities claimed aluminium poisoning could be leaving bees with a kind of animal Alzheimer’s disease.
A survey of school children carried out by the BBKA found that most youngsters are aware of the threat to the environment from the decline of bees but do not know what steps to help. environment. However less than a quarter (22 per cent) of children are aware of any steps they could take in order to help.
The ‘bee-friendly’ guide can be found at www.friendsofthehoneybee.com
Pooh’s guide to saving the bees
- Plant your own window box
- Create your own vegetable patch or tub together
- Plant a flowering tree in your garden
- Make some ‘seed balls’ and throw them into the wild
- Use arts and crafts to educate the younger generation on the importance of bees
- Learn to become a beekeeper yourself by attending a course through the British Beekeepers Association
- Bake together at home using local honey
- Build bee habitats
- Volunteer for your local beekeeper association or visit your local apiary
- Don’t panic if you see a swarm of honey bees, stay away and contact your local swarm collector
By Agence France-Presse via theguardian.com
Norway’s capital is creating a route filled with flowers and ‘green roofs’ to protect endangered pollinators essential to food production
From flower-emblazoned cemeteries to rooftop gardens and balconies, Norway’s capital Oslo is creating a “bee highway” to protect endangered pollinators essential to food production.
“We are constantly reshaping our environment to meet our needs, forgetting that other species also live in it,” Agnes Lyche Melvaer, head of the Bybi, an environmental group supporting urban bees, which is leading the project.
“To correct that we need to return places to them to live and feed,” she explained, sitting on a bench in a lush city centre square bursting with early Nordic summer growth.
With its sunflowers, marigolds and other nectar-bearing flowers planted by bee-loving locals and school children, Abel’s Garden was until recently covered only in grass but is now a floral “feeding station” for bees.
Oslo’s “bee highway” aims to give the insects a safe passage through the city, lined with relays providing food and shelter – the first such system in the world, according to the organisers.
Participants in the project – state bodies, companies, associations and private individuals – are invited to post their contribution on a website (polli.no), which maps out the bees’ route across the city.
On the 12th floor of an ultra-modern office block in the capital’s chic business district on the edge of Oslo fjord, a major accountancy firm has covered parts of its terrace in brightly-flowering Sedum plants and two bee hives.
It houses some 45,000 worker bees, busily unaware of their smart-suited office counterparts enjoying their lunch just metres away.
“One should see it as a sign that companies are also taking responsibility for preserving biodiversity,” said accountant and bee-keeping enthusiast Marie Skjelbred…
“Agriculture is completely dependent on pollinators to maintain food production just as insects are dependent on diverse agriculture to survive. It’s a mutual dependence,” he added.
The mass destruction of bee populations around the world has already forced farmers in the Chinese province of Sichuan to pollinate plants by hand, and in the US some farmers are left with no choice but to rent hives transported cross-country by truck to pollinate crops.
But in Abel’s Garden in Oslo, Agnes Lyche Melvaer says she has faith in the “butterfly effect”.
“If we manage to solve a global problem locally it’s conceivable that this local solution will work elsewhere too.”
[read full article via theguardian.com]
SO MOVED: Birds And Bees Among Urban Agriculture Issues Taken Up By City Council
By Harry Saltzgaver via gazettes.com
A second attempt to allow more urban agriculture in Long Beach passed its first test Tuesday night when the City Council approved a request to the city attorney to create an ordinance amending the current law.
In March 2013, a draft was brought to the council to change rules for keeping chickens, goats and bees in residential areas. More work was done before a vote in July 2013, but the changes failed on a 4-3 vote, with two council members absent. The issue resurfaced, and four council members — Lena Gonzalez (First), Suja Lowenthal (Second), Daryl Supernaw (Fourth) and Dee Andrews (Sixth) — brought the idea back to the full council Tuesday.
In their letter to the rest of the council, the sponsors cited strides made to become a more livable city, including promoting healthy food choices, as the reason to reconsider the rules now…
The motion passed unanimously.
- 4 hives allowed
- 10 foot setback
- Register with LA County Department of Agriculture
City staff will provide City Council with the ordinance language and then the issue will be up for a final vote.
By Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D. (The Best Bees Company) via blog.kidsgardening.org
Los Angeles is the only major city in the United States with illegal beekeeping. Why eliminate pollinators, you might wonder? The answer will definitely surprise you.
Bees are vitally important to our local ecology, and also to our local economy. As pollinators of over 100 fruit and vegetable crops, bees contribute over $15 billion to the U.S. economy each year, and that extends to over $100 billion globally annually. Even the little known, alfalfa leafcutter bee contributes an estimated $7 billion each year, just for its role in pollinating hay and alfalfa crops, upon which our entire cattle industry relies. Fewer pollinators mean higher prices at the markets, and less availability of nutritious foods. The cost of California’s almonds has doubled in the past five years, due to myriad causes, in part affected by declining honey bee populations.
Beekeeping was banned in Los Angeles on June 10, 1879. Policy makers received dubious information regarding bees attacking and damaging fruit. They decided that the best way to preserve our crops was to ban bees. Even today, Angelinos must kill beehives upon site.
In 1917, there was an article in the LA Times calling the no-beekeeping policy, “an ancient and still-unrepealed city ordinance.” A century later, Los Angeles continues to carry this legacy.
We now understand pollination. We know that more bees actually lead to more fruits and vegetables. The future for beekeepers in Los Angeles may be bright, however, with City Councilor Katie Peterson and other policy makers working to legalize beekeeping soon.
Bees Do Better in Cities
In my 2012 TEDxBoston talk, I shared data showing that urban beehives produced more honey than rural beehives. Furthermore, urban beehives also had higher survivorship than in the countryside. This trend continues today (see figure on right of 2014 data).
Despite the evidence showing that bees in cities are more productive and survive better than in the countryside, policy barriers are often in place prohibiting this from taking place. Policy makers are increasing their legislative actions to be more permissive for urban beehives, with beekeeping allowed in Seattle in 2008, New York City in 2010, Boston in 2014. San Francisco totally allows beekeeping unrestricted, while Denver limits to 2 hives in the rear 1/3 of a zone lot. Los Angeles is slated to be the next major metro area to allow beekeeping in residential areas. Even Washington, DC now has its first beehives at the White House grounds, in step with President Obama’s 2014 memorandum, “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.”
Urban beekeeping took flight in New York City in March of 2010. It was made illegal by the Giuliani administration in the 1990’s, along with a list of dozens of prohibited animals. In the years since its legalization, the island of Manhattan became a pollinator haven. After my recent talk at the March 30, 2015 meeting of the New York City Beekeepers Association, local beekeepers asked if there were too many beehives in the city. Beekeepers in London talk about this, as well. Is there a saturation point, with too many beehives in the City? That’s how common beekeeping is in New York and London. (One way to measure this is based on the Great Sunflower Project, whereby everyday citizens record the number of bees visiting a flower for 10 minutes each day, as a means of gathering data to measure pollinator abundance; this hasn’t yet been done for cities.)
Access to urban beekeeping is a social justice issue. It gives everyone access to local, healthy food. It allows for companies like The Best Bees Company to create new jobs. What’s more is that is allows for a new avenue of corporate sustainability, with businesses opting to put beehives on their rooftops as a display of their commitment to the environment.
Simply reusing a towel or having an herb garden on the rooftop is not necessarily enough these days for a hotel to rise to the top of the sustainability ranks. Beekeeping and pollinator protection are the next step for sustainability branding.
Urban beekeeping is happening across the globe, and it’s a good thing. We should change laws to allow more of it to happen and also educate the public so they can also raise bees on their rooftops to allow for a more sustainable future for both humans and bees, alike.
11 City Buildings Where One Would Least Expect Beehives (But They’re There)
- InterContinental Hotel Times Square (New York)
- Wells Fargo building (Denver’s tallest building)
- Columbia Center (Seattle, tallest building west of the Mississippi)
- The White House
- NAME PROTECTED (Los Angeles)
- Chicago City Hall
- Prudential Center (Boston)
- 888 Brannan (San Francisco; AirBNB & Pinterest headquarters)
- San Francisco Chronicle building
- Fox News building (New York)
- Brooks Brothers headquarters (New York)
Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D. is the founder of The Best Bees Company and author of The Bee: A Natural History, now available through Princeton University Press. For more information about Best Bees’ services, or to schedule a complimentary site consultation in and around Boston, NYC, DC, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, SF, or LA, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
[view original article via blog.kidsgardening.org]
The Saviors of Honeybees in the City of Angels
Ford Go Further | Everyday Heroes
Honey bees are responsible for $15 billion in U.S. agriculture crops each year, and pollinate 80% of the world’s plants.
What’s alarming is beekeepers are losing up to 50% of their hives every year, often vanishing without a trace or explanation. For Ford owners Rob and Chelsea McFarland, keeping these bees buzzing has become a passion, and they’re turning the city of Los Angeles into an unlikely urban beekeeping haven through community outreach, education and, of course, a few beehives of their own.
To learn more about urban beekeeping and how you can help keep these important bees buzzing visit, honeylove.org.
By JENNIFER BERNEY via parenting.blogs.nytimes.com
Several years ago, reports of the declining bee population inspired my partner to keep bees in our yard. Her reasons were mainly practical—not only did she want to support the vanishing bees, she hoped our plum trees might increase their yield. But it took less than one season for my partner to fall in love, and over time the number of hives in our backyard has multiplied from two to 10. At my house this week we know that spring has arrived because my 2-year-old points out the window and yells excitedly: “Bees!”
I consider both of my children lucky to know the honeybees so well. Living with a beekeeper has afforded me a chance to observe how children interact with bees. From what I’ve seen so far, they fall into two distinct camps: those who are fascinated, and those who are afraid.
There are kids who watch in wonder as the honeybees land on the stones in our birdbath and drink water through their delicate tongues, and there are kids who cover their hair with their hands and run away screaming. There are kids who knock on our door to buy a jar of honey and ask to see our bees, and there are kids who will poke a long stick through our fence and bang it against the roof of a hive.
I worry that the child who runs from bees in fear will grow up to be the adult who spots a healthy swarm in her backyard and sprays it with insecticide. I worry that the child who bangs on a hive roof will grow up to be the teenager who knocks over a neighbor’s hive in the middle of the night. These are two kinds of transgressions that happen often in my community, and they are undeserved. Unlike the many varieties of wasps, bees are gentle creatures. They pollinate our crops, make honey, and rarely sting unless provoked.
In recent years, beekeepers have continued to report high annual losses. An annual survey of beekeepers conducted by a partnership that includes the United States Department of Agriculture, released Wednesday, suggested both that significant losses in colonies continue, and that the loss rate in summer has increased. We compensate for this by breeding and replacing our lost colonies year after year. Scientists are no longer concerned that the honeybee’s extinction is imminent, but we are not yet off the hook. The disappearing bees have reminded us that our survival is interdependent. We live in collaboration with other species. A child who squashes bees or runs from them is a child who hasn’t yet learned their value, and it’s our job to teach them.
This might begin by teaching our children what a honeybee looks like. Before my partner brought home our first colony of bees, I was like many adults in that I could not distinguish a honeybee from a bumblebee, and had only the vaguest notion that wasps were a different species entirely. The yellow jacket who is harassing you at the end of summer, trying to take a bite of your ham sandwich, has little in common with the honeybee who is gathering pollen and nectar. Children are capable of making this distinction; like adults, they just need a little guidance.
Teaching children to value the honeybee might also include explaining the phenomenon of swarming, which, contrary to popular belief, is not an angry behavior. Honeybees swarm when their colony has grown healthy enough to divide in two. One half of them remain in the hive to welcome a new queen, while the other half leaves in search of a new home. They fill their bellies with nectar and travel in a cluster to shelter their old queen. The sight of a cluster of bees on a branch in a yard or a park is an opportunity for observation, a lesson about the intelligence of the insect world.
And that is the real lesson the bees offer: as smart as we humans are, we don’t know everything. At my house we can dance to Beyoncé in the living room, but we can’t wiggle our butts in a sequence so precise that it communicates the location of a nectar source three miles away. Bees can.
My partner has a practice that many beekeepers would find silly. Though a typical worker bee lives for only six weeks, in the evening my partner often picks up bees who have grown cold and fallen just outside the entrance to their hive. She collects them in a jar, brings them inside our house to warm them up and later, once they are restored, she returns them to their home. I used to tease her about this. Bees are members of a complex system. They are not individuals, and it struck me as foolish to attend to them as such. But then last week I saw my 6-year-old son crouch in front of a hive at dusk to gather languishing bees in his small hand. In that moment I realized what the bees had taught him — it’s the very lesson we all need to learn: that every small part of the system counts for something.
[Read original article via parenting.blogs.nytimes.com]
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