VIDEO: Urban beekeeping in Glasgow, Scotland
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Hyack honeybees educate and pollinate
New Westminster Secondary School is a hive of activity these days, and not only because students are buzzing about the hallways, gearing up for second semester.
Four years ago this month, at the urging of his students, biology teacher Axel Krause approached the school board with a plan to build an apiary on the roof of the Pearson wing.
The plan was approved, and NWSS is now home to two beehives, with another shipment of bees on its way.
“It’s a unique kind of thing to our school,” said environment club president Isabel Sadowski, 17. “Not a lot of schools have beehives…”
“A hard part of being part of environment club is that sometimes your actions don’t really produce a lot,” said Sadowski. “You can raise awareness, you can change your own habits, but it’s hard to see the effect that you’re having. With the beehives, you can actually see the work you’ve been doing is creating something.”
But for Krause and Sadowski, bees are so much more important than the substances they produce.
“Every third mouthful of food you eat has had a bee involved,” said Krause, explaining that even dairy cows depend on bees to pollinate the alfalfa they eat. “It’s amazing how much food we eat that’s pollinated by bees. And the bees are dying.”
This month in California, one million beehives will arrive from all over the United States to pollinate over 700,000 acres of almonds. In the summer, many of those bees will be shipped to the Fraser Valley to pollinate blueberry crops, then to Alberta for canola.
Krause believes this practice may be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder – the sudden loss of entire hives of bees that has plagued beekeepers since it was first documented in 2006.
“Do you like bananas?” asked Krause. “Do you want to eat bananas for two weeks straight? No. But that’s what we’re doing to our bees. We’re putting them into the almonds, and for two weeks all they get is almond pollen.”
Steady diets of a single kind of pollen, pesticides and viruses have contributed to the deaths of billions of bees in recent years, but Krause believes urban beekeeping is one solution…
URBAN BEEKEEPING –
“Urban beekeeping has been all the buzz, lately. And for as many people that keep bees, there are that many reasons WHY people keep bees.
One of the most important reasons to keep bees is for pollination. Bee pollination is needed for the production of an estimated one-third of the food crops grown in developed countries. When it comes to fruit, the number of bees visiting a plant affects the size, uniformity and amount of fruit it produces. Bee pollination also has an impact on other foods we eat, such as meat, since the animals we consume often eat plants pollinated by bees.
It’s common knowledge that the honey bee produces honey, but did you know that they also provide us with wax, pollen, royal jelly, propolis and venom? These by-products have different uses but are all considered beneficial to our health. “Apitherapy” means the use of honeybee products for medicinal purposes.
Urban beekeeping is essential as the commercial beekeepers have sustained huge losses all over the country year after year. As urban beekeepers we can practices sans medications and chemicals. We can provide diversity-rich habits as well as encourage those around us to reduce and or eliminate the use of pesticides. Beekeeping is a very civic hobby! But beyond that, it’s a lot of fun, challenging and rewarding.”
ARTICLE: Honeybees as plant ‘bodyguards’ –
“Honeybees are important to plants for reasons that go beyond pollination, according to a new study published in the December 23rd issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The insects’ buzz also defends plants against the caterpillars that would otherwise munch on them undisturbed.
The researchers, led by Jürgen Tautz of Biozentrum Universität Würzburg, Germany, earlier found that many caterpillars possess fine sensory hairs on the front portions of their bodies that enable them to detect air vibrations, such as the sound of an approaching predatory wasp or honeybee.
“These sensory hairs are not fine-tuned,” Tautz said. “Therefore, caterpillars cannot distinguish between hunting wasps and harmless bees.” If an “unidentified flying object” approaches, generating air vibrations in the proper range, caterpillars stop moving or drop from the plant…
“Our findings indicate for the first time that visiting honeybees provide plants with a totally unexpected advantage,” the researchers said. “They not only transport pollen from flower to flower, but in addition also reduce plant destruction by herbivores.”
…If crops are combined with attractive flowers in such a way that honeybees from nearby beehives constantly buzz around them, it may lead to significantly higher yields in areas with lots of leaf-eating pests—a notion Tautz’s team intends to test. “Our finding may be the start of a totally new biological control method,” he said.”
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