“Colony collapse disorder is the subject of this environmental documentary. As bee colonies around the United States disappear, scientists and beekeepers struggle to find the reason why and ascertain the impact on humans and the planet. Longtime beekeepers and newcomers alike are faced with economic ruin as they try to keep their hives healthy and prevent this crisis from wreaking havoc on a world that depends on pollination to sustain agriculture.”
Vanishing of the Bees says, “another way to help the bees – dance!”
“Please join us this Sunday July 3rd to learn why our project to get urban beekeeping approved in Los Angeles is so critical! Meet Chelsea and Rob McFarland and others from Backwards Beekeepers at the MVCC Green Booth at the Mar Vista Farmers Market from 9AM to 2:00 PM. Get the info on our July 16th screening of Vanishing of the Bees!
Over the last three years, more than one in three honeybee colonies collapsed nationwide, a phenomenon now called Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. According to the USDA, about one-third of our food is thanks to the work of bees, making CCD a huge food security issue. And while there is no one smoking gun causing CCD, scientists now widely agree that it is a result of a combination of factors, made manifest by industrial beekeeping which involves artificial insemination of queen bees, trucking thousands of hives great distances to pollinate crops, exposing bees to countless pesticides, and interfering with the species natural defenses by treating them with miticides and antibiotics and feeding them high fructose corn syrup. This deadly cocktail has made bees incredibly vulnerable and on the brink of collapse. That is, only if we fail to act, if we fail to recognize this disaster in the making and don’t take strong action to counter the slow march to extinction.
Mar Vista is actively working toward becoming a more sustainable place to live. Los Angeles currently outlaws beekeeping, and the city’s policy is to exterminate all feral bees. With worldwide bee populations threatened with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and urban beekeeping more popular than ever, this policy needs to change. Feral bees, being subject to natural selection but not to the rough treatment and chemicals of commercial beekeeping, are far more robust than their commercial cousins. As commercial colonies collapse at an alarming rate, it is crucial that this population be protected.
Luckily the Mar Vista Community Council is conducting a feasibility study for a Urban Beekeeping Pilot Project.”
Will You Help Legalize Urban Beekeeping in Mar Vista?
“As the national interest in urban beekeeping grows, cities like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle have joined the movement and legalized the practice. These cities recognize just how important bees are to the future of our way of life.
Yet, as bees are quickly vanishing due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), some cities like Los Angeles have yet to legalize urban beekeeping. In the Mar Vista community of L.A., a group of activists is ready to change that. Chelsea and Rob McFarland recently started a petition on Change.org asking the Mar Vista Community Council to support beekeeping in the region and work to repeal Los Angeles Municipal Code 50.03, which makes beekeeping illegal.
Working in collaboration with the Mar Vista Community Council Green Committee and Backwards Beekeepers, the McFarlands started honeylove.org to raise awareness and gain support for the legalization of urban beekeeping in Mar Vista and Los Angeles as a whole. After speaking in front of the Mar Vista Community Council, Chelsea and Rob gained unanimous approval of a feasibility study on legalizing beekeeping.
Their work is certainly important — bees are responsible for pollinating about one-third of America’s food supply. Without bees, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy staples of our diets like apples, nuts, soybeans, broccoli, and cucumbers, as well as some of the tastiest flowering crops out there, such as peaches, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, citrus fruits, and melons. Even our cattle, which feed primarily on alfalfa, rely on bees to pollinate their food. Even President Obama supports urban beekeeping — he keeps two beehives on the White House lawn.
While the Mar Vista Community Council approved the feasibility study, they’ve yet to fully legalize beekeeping in the community. That’s where the McFarlands’ petition comes in. You can help the couple push for legal beekeeping in Mar Vista. Add your signature to the petition, and enable the citizens of Mar Vista to play their part in saving our food system through urban beekeeping.”
Help Legalize Beekeeping in Mar Vista! Please sign our petition on Change.org!
Honey tube as wedding favors from their local honey farm
Solar Beeswax Melter
I have a bunch of beeswax from cut-outs…so what to do? I came up with this design based on a few I’d seen online and was able to pull together most of the material from around the house. The concept is pretty simple – sun heats up metal, melting wax into a trough.
Seemed to be working well, though I think it needs a full day of sun to fully melt the wax. It got warm enough today to melt the wax into piles, though not warm enough to make it run into the trough. We’ll see tomorrow after it gets full sun all day.
“Mar Vista tripleheader”
Today, Roberta of Backwards Beekeepers and I cut-out three hives from my neighbor’s garage. John contacted BB after what sounds like a few bungled removals. What started as one hive in his wall splintered into three robust hives, taking up residence in various parts of the garage.
John’s daughter Catherine, a biology student at UCSB, helped us throughout the whole ordeal. I suspect we have a newbie beek in the making. She was really impressive.
The first hive we tackled was in a window frame and was fully exposed after removing a sheet of plywood that was installed after the previous removal.
We were able to easily cut out the comb and tie it into frames. Look at all that brood!
Next up was a hive that set up in a wine box left behind to trap stragglers from the previous removal. The thought was that it was better to have them living in the box than in the wall.
Unfortunately, they quickly got over-crowded and sent out at least two more swarms, which set up shop in the window and wall. Makes me wonder if this is where the swarm that showed up in my yard originated. If so, I have John to thank for my good fortune. The good news was that the box made for a really simple cut-out.
We tied all the comb into 5 frames and dropped them into a nuc box I just built. We obviously got the queen because the rest of the crew was eager to get inside.
And finally, after a ton of sawing and brute demo work, we were able to cut-out the swarm in the wall. They really spread out throughout the wall, so it took a ton of coaxing to get them all. And by coaxing, I mean busting the hell out of the wall and brushing and vacuuming like a mad man. And though I’m no fan of the bee vac, I’ve found it to be essential in some of the hairier cut-outs. Going to try to build one this weekend, stay tuned for how that turns out.
Special thanks to John and Catherine for helping rescue many thousands of honeybees, and to Roberta for the mentoring.
Ancient Egyptian Beekeeping
“The earliest record of keeping bees in hives was found in the sun temple erected in 2400 BC near Cairo. The bee featured frequently in Egyptian hieroglyphs and, being favored by the pharaohs, often symbolized royalty… Honey is mentioned in the oldest written histories, dating back to at least 2100 BC where it was mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings, the Hittite code, and the sacred writings of India and Egypt.”
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