JOIN US this SATURDAY as we SWARM LMU!!
FREE film screening and photobooth shenanigans ?
REMEMBER TO WEAR SOME YELLOW AND BLACK!!
JOIN US this SATURDAY as we SWARM LMU!!
Learning to Love the Swarm
Victim of disease and pests, the threatened bee finds a new caretaker in Vancouver’s young and eco-savvy.
“It’s easier than owning a dog,” says Alaina Thebault, East Van gardener and coordinator for the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA). “But more work than a cat.”
Thebault’s not talking about pet iguanas or even backyard chickens. The next darling of urban agriculture junkies seems to be, well, bees.
“You grow up your whole life being afraid of insects that sting you. I don’t recall ever being stung as a child, but it was always something I was afraid of,” she says. But beginning this year, Thebault’s relationship with the world’s leading pollinators took on a whole new dimension.
“I caught my first swarm back in May,” she explains. “I was at my parent’s house in Chilliwack and my dad found this swarm in the yard.” Faced with a buzzing mass of insects orbiting a queen, Thebault had her first up-close-and-personal encounter with a wild bee colony.
“I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ I had no idea what to do.”
Coached by an experienced colleague over the phone, Thebault took charge of the rogue swarm. “She told me to grab a box and put a little bit of sugar in it. She said, ‘Just be calm.’ I didn’t have anything — no veil, no gloves — I just grabbed this branch, and it was surrounded in this big football of bees.”
While her parents observed in a mild state of shock, Thebault says in that moment she knew she wanted to look after a hive of her own.
“I was like, ‘I’m hooked.’ You know, these things are really special.”
Not many can claim to have maneuvered thousands of live bees with their bare hands. In fact, most people — including Thebault’s own family — would gladly call it crazy. But a little bit of learning has pushed Thebault and dozens more young people like her to think about bees in a new light.
“You might not know this, but bees are incredibly docile when they swarm,” she explains. “They eat as much honey as they can before they leave the hive. They basically gorge themselves, and so they’re incredibly lethargic and harmless.”
For the record, Thebault was not stung once during this entire episode. “Once they swarm, they don’t have any space to protect so they’re not as defensive either,” she adds. “So they’re very easy to work with.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, says Thebault. The more she researched the importance of bees in B.C.’s ecosystems and the threat of colony collapse, the more she wanted to bring the tiny creatures into her own backyard…
Beekeeping: not just for ‘geezers’
In stark contrast to big-time commercial apiaries, urban beekeepers often maintain low-impact organic hives near community gardens. With ecology rather than profit in mind, young people in the city have taken beekeeping into their own hands…
“The commercial industry is still dominated by older farmers but I’ve seen a lot of interest in urban hives,” she adds. Taught at the Means of Production garden in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, McKenna’s classes — attended predominantly by 20-something women — show students how to avoid pesticides and antibiotics and employ more sustainable practices.
Garr says he, too, has noticed youth interest in beekeeping grow. “It was geezers mostly,” he jokes about beekeepers’ association meetings in the past. He says attendance at beekeeping functions has jumped to nearly 100 from around 10 in the last couple years. “People are into it now, which was not the case five or eight years ago”…
HoneyLove Booth @ Girl Scouts 100 Year Anniversary
Girltopia: LA Convention Center on October 29, 2011
Sat, Oct 29 – Girltopia – Girl Scouts 100 Year Anniversary (LA Convention Center)
Sun, Oct 30 – LA Green Festival @ 4pm (LA Convention Center)
Sat, Nov 5 – Swarm @ LMU @ 2pm – FREE film screening “Vanishing of the Bees”
Tues, Nov 8 – Mar Vista Council Meeting @ 7pm – THE BIG VOTE!!
Sat, Nov 19 – HONEYLOVE’S FIRST ANNUAL YELLOW TIE EVENT!!!
California Farmers Plant Bee-Friendly Habitat to Bolster Populations
“Farmers in California and other states have begun planting bee-friendly flowers and shrubs to attract bees, whose populations have been severely declining in recent years under a complex set of circumstances. Farmers hope to sustain native bees and strengthen dwindling honey bee populations as well as lower their pollination costs. For many farmers that rely on bees to pollinate their crops, creating safe bee habitat and reducing chemical assaults can help stem the tide of declining pollinator populations…
California farmers are provided seeds for native plants like wild rose, aster, sage, manzanita, and other shrubs and trees to entice bees… The effort comes as honey bees, maintained by beekeepers, and native, or wild, bees are perishing in great numbers. Bees are essential pollinators of about one-third of the U.S. food supply, and they’re especially important in California, the nation’s top producer of fruits and vegetables. This makes the pollinator problem dire in this state, where large farms often grow single crops that rely on pollination and don’t offer bees a varied diet.
The die-off is blamed on colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly die. The disorder has destroyed honey bee colonies at a rate of about 30 percent per year since it was recognized in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before that, about 15 percent of colonies died per year from a variety of pests and diseases. Researchers aren’t sure what causes the disorder, but they suspect a combination of stressors, including pesticides, mites and parasites, and lack of proper nutrition…
Read Beyond Pesticides’ factsheet: “Backyard Beekeeping” on what you can do to boost pollinator populations…”
Crenshaw Water Meter Rescue – 10/23/11
We first met Jeremy & Lorina (and their adorable kiddos) at the Venice High School Learning Garden at our Pollination Workshop. Earlier this week they called to alert us to a beehive in their neighborhood in need of rescue. Once again, the bees had set up shop in a water meter, only this time just across the street from an elementary school in Crenshaw. Apparently the neighbors had been complaining to the city for over a year, so they were thrilled to learn that we would be taking care of them.
All of the neighborhood children were out in force to watch as we rescued the bees and gave out samples of the honey, which happened to be some of the darkest, sweetest honey we’ve ever tasted. As soon as it is legalized in Los Angeles we would LOVE to help one of the neighbors become an urban beekeeper so we can get more of that wonderfully unique honey.
Can’t help but wonder what type of plant produces honey the color of motor oil? Whatever it is, it’s delicious!
Telling Steve’s Story
“Isaacson was surprised by how modestly Jobs lived—“no security, no drivers, no entourage, no live-in help,” he says. The house where Jobs lived with his wife, Laurene, and their children has no hedges or high walls, no long driveway. Out back is a vegetable and flower garden with beehives from which the family collects their own honey. “It was a house that you would not turn your head to look at as you go down the street. It was built in the 1930s and has no lavish spaces, no McMansion qualities. It’s just a normal Palo Alto neighborhood home,” Isaacson says.”
Questions for HoneyLove from the 2nd graders at Wildwood School in Mar Vista:
Are pesticides bad for bees?
How long does a queen bee live?
How do you raise a baby bee?
Why do bees buzz?
What do bees eat?
What is their life-cycle?
Do they go through metamorphosis?
Why are the bees dying?
How are the bees dying?
How do bees make their hives?
How long do bees live?
How do you take a bee out of a yard?
What tools do you use?
How do you keep them from running away?
How do you know if they are your bees?
Why are people killing bees?
How do bees make honey?
What types of bees sting?
What eats bees?
What time of the day do bees go to work?
Where are beehives located?
If the beekeepers have questions, who do they ask?
Do all bees really die if they sting you?
How do beekeepers keep from getting stung?
How fast do bee wings move?
How many types of bees are there?
Who is their enemy?
Does every bee have a hive?
Is there a king bee?
What plants do bees like most?
How big can bees get?
How many bees can there be in one hive?
What do you do if a bee stings you?
How much nectar can one bee collect?
Why do you use a steamer?
Who makes baby bees?
What’s your favorite kind of honey?
What’s your favorite kind of bee?
and my favorite…
Why do bees have fuzzy tummies?
Click here to download the Mar Vista Fall Newsletter 2011 (google docs pdf – no preview)
Honey bees are mentioned on FIVE OF THE EIGHT PAGES!!!
Chim Chimney Beekeeping: The New Homesteading
“Homeowners and apartment dwellers on both sides of the Atlantic are dipping into the yummy hives of bees.
While Homesteaders on our own turf continue to battle it out over naming rights, urban nature dwellers in Britain are taking “local” and “self-sufficiency” to new heights: their rooftops. It’s a trend that’s migrating stateside, but remember you heard it here first. We’re calling it Chim Chimney Beekeeping®.
As a thank you for reading us each day, you’re free to dump the ®.
Here’s how it all started.
In 2008, the British Beekeepers Association reported that the UK bee population had plummeted by as much as a third, citing causes like parasites, insecticides, loss of flowering plants and pollution. In the United States, meanwhile, we’ve been scratching our heads at the mysterious disappearance of bees as well, a condition that we’ve dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder.
It’s a very serious problem worldwide as bees are responsible for pollinating about a third of the world’s food supply. Unless we want to subsist on wind-pollinated foods like wheat, rice, oats and acorns, we need them in our backyards.
The English, renowned for their stiff upper lips, best foot forward, and superlative gardens, have responded by cultivating thriving Chim Chimney Beekeeping communities. UK-wide, there’s an estimated 274,000 bee colonies that produce more than 6000 tons of honey each year with some 44,000 beekeepers managing them; the biggest buzz, though, is happening in London.
According to the British Beekeepers Association, the number of registered Chim Chimney Beekeepers in central London has more than doubled within the past couple of years. There are over 2,500 hives and more than 700 beekeepers. The posh are in on it (the queen’s bees are kept at Buckingham Palace) as well as the middle class, who keep bees in allotments and on rooftops. The enthusiasm for London beekeeping and the resulting honey (considered to be among the best in the world) has prompted annual festivals, international beehive design competitions, eco products, and amendments to the school curriculum.
The Chim Chimney swarm has become so avid that last year the North London Beekeepers Association had to start turning away members. The Guardian calls it the latest environmental movement; we’re calling it the new chicken coop.
Stateside, a city ordinance banning Chim Chimney Beekeeping in New York was overturned last year. Now more than 100 people are keeping hives of their own. Queens, in particular, has become the city’s honey haven having hosted the first ever inter-borough honey festival in the Rockaways last month.
Hoteliers in Boston have also taken it up. The InterContinental Boston houses about 120,000 honeybees on their rooftop apiary. And in Chicago, there are about 4,000 registered beekeepers.
From our vantage, the Chim Chimney trend is one to watch. It’s beneficial to urban dwellers as it’s a kind of Zen and the Art of Beekeeping pursuit. More importantly, it’s good for the bees. City pollinators fare better than rural ones because of the increased range of forage and relative lack of pesticides. It just might be the solution to our global bee conundrum.”
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