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Born to bee wild: How feral pollinators may help prevent colony collapse disorder
By Enrique Gili
According to the Department of Agriculture, CCD has accounted, at least in part, ?for 30 percent of bee losses annually, since 2007. It’s also jeopardizing beekeepers, rural economies, and the farm communities that depend on those bees. Worldwide honeybees pollinate 400 crops, while adding an estimated $15 billion in revenues per year to the U.S. farm economy.
Despite their pastoral image, the burden placed on the domesticated honeybees is a weighty one. Bred for their non-aggressive demeanor and ample honey production, they’re also expected to help propagate tens upon of thousands of acres of flower-pollinated crops on farms throughout the U.S. and Europe.
As scientists and beekeepers have been literally and figuratively? beating the bushes to understand CCD, they’ve often turned to the? role genetic diversity plays in the overall health of bee colonies. And recent research published in the peer-reviewed science journal PLoS ONE suggests honeybees are as adverse to monogamy as they are to monocrops.? In fact, mixing it up, so to speak, can yield unexpected and surprising benefits for honeybee populations. Honeybees — whether feral or domesticated — need variety. Not only do worker bees spend their waking hours hopping from plant to plant, but some queen bees are also promiscuous, mating with multiple males in a brief period of time. And, as it turns out, there’s a biological rationale for this promiscuity; the overall fitness of the hive depends upon these multiple partners.
“Most bees, ants, and wasps mate singly. Honeybee queens are different ?in that regard — producing highly productive hives that dominate their landscape,” says Heather Mattila, a researcher at Wellesley College.
In the study published in PLoS ONE, Mattila and her co-author Irene Newton found that bees — like humans and other species — depend on helpful bacteria to aid in digestion. And the genetically diverse bee colonies they studied had a significantly greater number of probiotic species living in their guts than the more uniform hives. Moreover, the uniform beehives were 127 percent more likely to contain harmful pathogens than their more diverse counterparts.
“We’ve never known how genetic diversity leads to healthier bees, but this ?study provides strong clues,” says Matilla.
…not that there’s one simple fix for CCD. Diversity is just one part of the equation. “A lot has to do with pesticides and nutrition,” Cobey adds. “The amazing thing about bees is they bounce back [for a while]. But at some point they collapse.”
Scientists and beekeepers alike are working furiously to prevent that from happening. But in the meantime, it might be wise to ask: What if we turned back the clock on agricultural production and allowed honeybees to forage and frolic more freely?
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Installs Bee Hives On Roof
NEW YORK — New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is buzzing with thousands of tiny new visitors.
The luxury hotel has installed six beehives on its rooftop with the goal of harvesting honey by mid-summer. One mature hive has 20,000 bees and five starter hives have 5,000 bees each.
By August, the hotel hopes to host 300,000 bees in total.
The bees arrived last week in a luxury car. Then they were escorted through the lobby to their new home on the 20th floor.
Guests at the historic hotel can tour the hives. The insects also are visible from certain rooms.
Honey will be used in dishes served at the hotel’s restaurant.
Members of the public can help the hotel name the hives in a social media contest.
ARTICLE: Beekeeping: a hive of activity for the young
“’The bottom line is that understanding the bee is a way to understand nature – the pollination process and the food chain,” says Andrew Pendleton, head of the Bee Cause campaign. “Surprisingly enough, bees are flourishing in urban environments. This could be due to the lower amounts of pesticides used in cities, or the fact that bee-friendly gardens are clustered together, so bees do not need to travel as far.”
“Beekeeping is incredibly popular among the young,” he says. “At BuzzWorks we allow them to collect the honey, and dip their hand in warm wax and watch it congeal into a glove. Our observation hive has them completely absorbed, watching the steady movement of the bees and pointing out the queen. It is an opportunity for them to learn where their food comes from.”
It is important, he says, that people learn to bond with bees in their childhood. “When people become young adults, they might put beekeeping to the back of their minds,” he says. “But later, when they reach their thirties and are a bit more established, they might recall their first experiences and take it up again. That’s why providing that early exposure is so vital.”
Article by Jake Wallis Simons | Photos by MARTIN POPE
[click here to view the full article on telegraph.co.uk]
ART: The Hive by Justin Kamerer (angryblue.com)
18×24, 3 colored screen print (2 teastain/worn colors and then a reddish blackline on top)
PHOTOS: Today at the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase Meet & Greet!!
Honey Tasting / Observation Hive / Visit from LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl
COME OUT AND VISIT HONEYLOVE AT THE SHOWCASE CENTRAL NEXT SATURDAY (3635 Grand View Blvd, 90066) for the fourth annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase – a citywide Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 21st, 2012 from 10 am to 4pm. FREE PUBLIC EVENT!!!
ARTICLE: Buzzing for community development
Community organization and selfless dedication are the traits of the honeybee. The Calgary Hive Mentality Project aims to provide this perspective by hosting educators from across North America to address the importance of bees as a conduit for community development.
The speaker series began on March 16 with Kirk Anderson, one of the founders of North America’s largest urban beekeepers’ association, and Los Angeles’s most wanted swarm catcher.
“When I first got into bees there was a big back-to-the-land movement in the late ’60s, early ’70s, but I couldn’t afford to go back to the land because I had a bunch of kids to raise,” said Anderson.
So instead, Anderson bought some mail-order bees and put them in his mother’s backyard, pioneering a trend that would evolve into a full-blown food security movement now at the height of popularity in l.a.
“People want to be connected to that, especially the young generation,” he said.
Anderson is founder and guru of the Backwards Beekeepers’ association, a group of 800 organic, treatment-free beekeepers who focus on encouraging the native feral bee populations inhabiting southern California.
Beekeeping in l.a. is illegal. However, Anderson maintains 20 hives.
“I usually ignore most politics unless I agree with it,” he said. “Most of the bees I use are feral so they’re already in the environment anyway. I’m just taking some of them and putting them in a box.”
Honeybees are incredibly important to pollinating a number of fruits and vegetables, but in the last 50 years, their numbers have been dwindling rapidly. Scientific researchers think the varroa destructor mite is responsible for this decline, and the mite is a topic of contention in the beekeeping community.
“[Some people] get the idea that the whole bee population will succumb unless you and a bunch of the other beekeepers become emergency medical technicians for insects,” said Anderson.
“So they’ve been treating this mite with all these chemicals, and guess what kind of mite they have left? The strongest, most resistant, toughest, meanest, no good, sob mites that have ever come down the line,” he said.
Anderson was confident in nature’s ability to select for the strong rather than relying on human intervention to give a bad track record for managing nature.
According to Anderson, it is the wild bees, who are as diverse as the cultures represented in l.a., that makes bee populations resilient. He also argues that diversity in the environment is required to keep the bees healthy.
Eliese Watson, organizer of the event and sole proprietor of Calgary’s Apiaries and Bees for Communities, also agrees that diversity is key to the survival of not only bees, but also humans.
“Our rural setting has been monopolized by monoculture,” she said. “No longer is our rural environment a healthy environment for nature to thrive.”
With a massively industrialized agricultural system affecting nature, hobbyists like Anderson and Watson are finding ways to change human participation in food production.
“People are starting to actually have a connection with nature and recognizing that for humans to thrive, nature must thrive,” said Watson. “And so for bees to come into the city is a complete natural progression of the human psyche in accepting nature in our urban spaces.”
Watson was featured on the Discovery Channel’s The Daily Planet in 2011 as she roamed across the city rescuing swarms of bees. For Watson, the national press has only added more momentum to her business and the urban beekeeping movement in Calgary.
“It’s not always easy, but the Calgary community has been incredibly supportive,” she said of the increased interest and responsiveness to urban beekeeping. “The altruism, love, compassion, and care within a bee colony truly does exist within our society.”
ARTICLE: Student receives grant to study health benefits of propolis
“Former Urangan High School student Karina Hamilton has once again forged ahead in the science world after taking out a prestigious government grant worth $75,000 to study if bee sap can heal wounds.
The 21-year-old won the grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council to undertake a three-year study.
Ms Hamilton will try to determine the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of propolis from native Australian stingless bees.
Bees collect sap from trees and buds before returning to the hive to mix it with pollen or wax to create propolis.
“So far, no one has looked at the propolis from the Australian native bee.
“So we are hoping to discover that it has similar healing abilities (to other bee propolis),” Ms Hamilton said.
During the study, propolis from hives in the field will be applied to human cells such as white blood cells.
Ms Hamilton is the first student at University of Sunshine Coast to receive the grant…”
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