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Honeybees, the new urban dwellers

“Honeybees play a vital role in many areas of our lives – they pollinate our crops and medicinal plants – but their population has decreased by 30% since 2008. Could our towns and cities now provide them with a safe haven?


Major cities around the world such as London, New York, Hong Kong and Paris are encouraging bees to set up home in the city. Rooftops, small urban gardens and even balconies are providing potential safe-havens for honeybees, our newest and, in many ways, most-important urban dwellers.

The future of mankind is dependent on the survival of the bee.

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80% of our food crops worldwide, therefore risks to their health threaten our own food security. Many medicines, an enormous part of our textile industry and, of course, perfumes and cosmetics also rely on flowers and plants that are pollinated by bees.

In short we have the honeybee to thank for the basic components of our daily lives, from the food we eat and the drugs we need, to the clothes we wear – and that’s without beginning to consider items of luxury.

However, the honeybee population has decreased by 30% since 2008 and the reasons for their poor health are multifaceted. Today the rural environment poses severe health risks to bees through intensive farming methods and the use of pesticides.

“Mono crop” farming means that many bees now have a “mono pollen diet”. This could be detrimental to their health as pollen provides bees with protein; as each pollen variety contains different nutrients that are needed to maintain good health, missing out on certain nutrients leaves bees vulnerable to diseases.

Bees that miss out on a balanced diet can also become more susceptible to parasites, such as the varroa mite, or colony collapse disorder, which is believed to be caused by a combination of fungal and viral infections.

Such threats mean the honeybee could potentially have a better chance of survival in urban environments.

City living potentially provides a rich and varied source of pollen that gives bees all the nutrients and enzymes they require for their good health.

Bees that live in the city may also benefit from new kinds of beehive designs that have been created specifically for urban bees.

This growth in the urban honeybee population, and the need for it to be encouraged, calls for not only new type of homes which are suitable for beekeeping, but also a complete re-examination of our relationship with honeybees where they live beside us and we welcome their presence.”

[click here to read the original article on guardian.co.uk]

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MVCC Approves Motion to Support Urban Beekeeping Los Angeles

The motion will next be presented to the Los Angeles City Council.

“The Mar Vista Community Council Board of Directors maintained a quorum Tuesday night and voted to approve the motion to support urban beekeeping in Los Angeles…

Backwards Beekeepers founder Kirk Anderson noted that Mar Vista has a thriving population of feral bees, and allowing beekeepers to step up and legally manage bees would only help the community. 

Green Committee Co-Chair Sherri Akers also spoke about HoneyLove founders Rob and Chelsea McFarland, who first brought the idea of a beekeeping pilot project to the council. She spoke of how the couple had personally worked to remove hives from public spaces and protect the community from feral bees. 

Board member Kate Anderson said she respected the concerns about being stung but added that the six-month study by the council had seriously considered the issues at hand and had done its work.

Board Member Geoffrey Forgione also pointed out that the motion that will now be presented to the City Council is not advocating that the pilot program take place specifically in Mar Vista. Rather, the MVCC is advocating for the implementation of the program in Los Angeles.

Following the approval of the motion, several supporters dressed in black and yellow applauded the move as they waved yellow pom poms on sticks above their heads.

Chelsea McFarland told Patch she was grateful for the support of the MVCC Green Committee and the Backwards Beekeepers, saying, “This was a great night for Los Angeles beekeepers.”

Przekop, who headed up the outreach committee for the project told Patch she was happy that the motion passed but that “it’s a very small step in a long process. I hope [the Los Angeles City Council] and other neighborhood councils support this, because this isn’t going to happen just by Mar Vista supporting it.”

Przekop added she was thrilled to be part of this grassroots movement and that the template created in Mar Vista for the beekeeping project is something that other communities can use in seeking support for the project.

The MVCC motion reads:

The committee reviewed over 150 articles on beekeeping, best practices, planning articles on Urban Agriculture, State, County and city beekeeping regulations to help in the evaluation of the recommendations and conclusions of the Beekeeping Feasibility Study. The committee also spoke to program directors in numerous cities where programs are in place.

The Feasibility Study concludes that there is a strong community interest in supporting beekeeping efforts and that doing so would result in positive changes that permit the healthy growth of honey bee colonies and increase the production and quality of fruits, vegetables and flowers in Mar Vista’s organic home gardens while providing a community service as a resource for the removal of feral (wild) hives. Research indicates that such a program would be cost neutral to the city of LA.

The MVCC Board therefore recommends the implementation of a Beekeeping Pilot Program in to test safety and develop best practices for future expansion. We urge the City of LA to adopt a policy that includes conditions relating to maintenance, location, registration and notification to assure for the safety of all residents, which may result in the continued preservation of quality of life and preservation of single-family residential districts.”

[click here to read the original article on marvista.patch.com]

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Apiculture Museum in Radjovek, Slovenia

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‘Citizen Scientists’ To Help Gauge Wild Bee Population

Scientist Gretchen LeBuhn is trying to save the nation’s wild bee population. But to achieve her goal, she’s resorting to some unconventional means, namely the help of ordinary citizens from across the country.

On Saturday 100,000 ‘citizen scientist’ volunteers will spend about 15 minutes counting the number of bees that visit “lemon queen” sunflowers they’ve planted following instructions on LeBuhn’s website,www.greatsunflower.com. Participants will monitor the flowers for bees twice monthly through the end of the summer, uploading the information into a central database.

Studies have shown that pollinators affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, but climate change and a little-understood phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder” are threatening honey bees, a key pollinator. Though researchers have reported a drastic decline in the populations of domesticated honeybees since at least 2006, the statistics on wild bees have remained more elusive.

LeBuhn hopes the new data will help scientists identify where native bee populations are doing well and where they’re doing poorly. Hopefully, the hundreds of thousands of sunflowers planted by volunteers will have the added benefits of providing wild bees with an enriched and expanded habitat.

“We’re really leveraging science dollars to do a survey we could never do using traditional methods,” said LeBuhn, an associate professor at San Francisco State University. “It would just be incredibly cost prohibitive. I was thinking of sending my grad students up to Napa [County] and having them count bees,” she added. “But to do that at any bigger scale than one county would be impossible. So it’s amazing to get all these people participating.”

Participants don’t need to know whether the bee they’re watching is a bumblebee, a carpenter bee or a honeybee, LeBuhn said, though a guide available on her website can help with identification.

There are more than 4,000 different species of native bees in North America, according to Science Daily, but many of them have already disappeared. LeBuhn says that of the nine species of bumblebees known to live in the San Francisco area, researchers have only been able to find four of them in recent years.

Click here to read the full article by by Lucia Graves on huffingtonpost.com

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Peanut Butter Honeybees – LOVE IT!! <3

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List of crop plants pollinated by bees

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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TED TALK – Dennis vanEngelsdorp: a plea for bees

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“If the bees disappeared, then man would only have four years left to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more man.”

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“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.”

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Pesticide Action Network: SIGN THE PETITION!

U.S. bee populations are still declining and scientists believe pesticides are a critical piece of the puzzle. Clothianidin’s family of pesticides (neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid) are an especially suspect culprit.

Clothianidin is on the U.S. market on the basis of unsound science and deeply flawed EPA decision-making. Like most pesticides registered in the last 15 years, it was rushed to market prior to safety testing with a “conditional registration.”

Beekeepers can’t take another season of losses. Beekeepers tell us that like their hives, their industry is on the verge of collapse. With 1/3 of food reliant on bees for pollination, the collapse of commercial beekeeping would devastate U.S. farmers as well.

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