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Seven Billion People Need Bees

“This first week of November (2011) our population surpassed seven billion humans. And in the last week of October (2011) scientists from the University of California at Berkeley irrefutably proved that over one billion temperature sensors registered warming between 1-2 degrees Celsius, in some cases more than three times greater than the IPCCs average of 0.64 degrees Celsius. Humans are forcing the climate by burning carbon-based fuels releasing over 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, daily, on our planet.

All life forms are in jeopardy. Our food chain is perilously close to collapsing; yet the lawmakers in Washington regularly ignore this message. My biology and environmental students at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and I are miffed at why this issue is not front and center in DC…

We all need to be aware of the health and well being of the bees. Because without healthy honey, bumble, stingless and solitary bees there’s no chance that more than seven billion people can thrive especially since the oceans are fished-out and currently feeding, unsustainably, at least a couple billion people, daily — in addition to acidifying (from absorbing rising atmospheric CO2) faster than any time in the last 60 million years…

Surprisingly, bees and humans share a number of similarities. For example, we both require restful and rejuvenating sleep. Sleep deprived bees, just like humans, experience communication problems like finding food and performing an accurate waggle dance to reveal locations of nectar, pollen, water and tree resin. Stressed bees like humans become anxious, depressed and pessimistic; they display emotion-like qualities. Moreover, bees that exhibit a high defensive behavior or optimism are likely to survive a winter rather than perish.

Did you know that humans have been keeping bees in cities for over three thousand years? Bees were kept in the “land of milk and honey” in the Iron Age city of Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley — the oldest known commercial beekeeping facility in the world. It should then come as no surprise that city councils around the world have recently allowed urban beekeepers to keep hives in Santa Monica, New York, Chicago, London, Melbourne, Tokyo and many other places. In fact, urban beekeepers along with the tremendous support of city dwellers are planting more bee-friendly trees and flowers helping to sustain urban bee populations.

And make no mistake, bees around the globe are dying by the billions from insecticides like neonictinoidsclimate-driven mismatches, introduced parasites and diseases, air pollution and habitat loss. In the last four years alone over a quarter trillion honeybees have died prematurely. Of the 100 crop species providing 90 percent of the world’s food — over 74 percent are pollinated by bees…

Help save urban bees — please, do not use herbicides, insecticides, miticides or fungicides in your garden.”

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Huffington Post Article:

Kosher Honey: Making It a Sweet Rosh Hashanah With Bees


“At no time during my experience in a New York City rabbinical school did I think I would ever be donning full beekeeper regalia and watching as thousands of bees made honey on a farm in Michigan’s Amish country. But that is precisely what I found myself doing for the first time this past spring.

In addition to learning about the honey-making process, I’ve also learned about colony collapse disorder, the unexplained phenomenon of worker bees disappearing from hives causing a shortage of bee honey in recent years. I learned this from Don and Carol Ragan, a lovely couple who own the Windmill Hill Farm in Croswell (located in the “thumb” of Michigan). Carol first contacted me in February immediately after reading an article in the Detroit Free Press about Kosher Michigan, the kosher certification agency I started. She wanted to know what was involved in obtaining certification for her bee honey.

I told her that I would have to get back to her because I really wasn’t sure what it took to certify bee honey as kosher. The mere fact that bee honey is kosher is itself odd. After all, it is a product of the non-kosher bee (no insects except for certain locust species are deemed kosher by the Torah). So, how can a product of a non-kosher animal be kosher? It is believed that honey is kosher since it is produced outside of the body of the bee. But that isn’t totally true. In actuality, bees suck nectar from flowers with their proboscis (mouth) and this nectar mixes with saliva and is swallowed into the honey sac, where enzymes from the saliva break down the nectar into honey. The nectar is never digested, but rather transformed into honey by the saliva. The honey is regurgitated when the bee returns to the hive and the water is evaporated, thereby thickening it into honey which is then sealed in the honeycomb. The rabbis of the Talmud explain that bee honey is kosher since it is not an actual secretion of the bee, but rather the bee functions as a carrier and facilitator of the honey-making process.

All of this is interesting because honey is a staple food of the Jewish New Year’s holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which begins this year on Wednesday, Sept. 28… Among the familiar traditions of Rosh Hashanah are the dipping of apple slices in honey and eating honey cake…

“We’re passionate about making honey,” said Carol Ragan. “When we first discovered hives on our Croswell farm we were excited to experiment with making honey. We never realized how much we would come to enjoy it or how much of a market there is for honey products.”

Even with colony collapse disorder, beekeeping is on the rise throughout the country. New York City legalized recreational beekeeping last year, and even Michelle Obama had a beehive installed outside the White House.

…While the Bible describes Israel as “the land flowing with milk and honey,” it was more than likely referring to date honey. Bees were not common in Israel thousands of years ago, but today Israel has about 500 beekeepers with approximately 90,000 beehives that produce more than 3,500 tons of honey annually.

The basis of using honey in baked goods and dipping apples into honey on Rosh Hashanah is to have a sweet year. While the secular New Year is kicked off with toasts of champagne, the Jewish New Year is launched with the sweet taste of honey. And maybe a little sugar high too.”

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