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Article by N’ann Harp:
“When early colonists first sailed to the New World in the 1620s, they brought along their cherished European honey bees, introducing Apis mellifera to the North American continent. Here, while sowing the seeds of statehood, our pioneer forebears continued to practice the customs of rural England, where honey bees had long been treated as family members. “Telling the bees” about births, marriages and deaths and including them in special occasions was part of the fabric of family life.
“Today, small-scale, organic beekeeping is making a timely comeback, with renewed interest in and respect for these lost arts from a simpler time…
Humans share with honey bees an ancient, intimate and symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit. Although the fossil records indicate that honey bees were thriving on the planet for an estimated 70 million years prior to the appearance of man, human beings and these highly-evolved social insects quickly developed an enduring affinity for each other.
Our interconnectedness goes back at least 10,000 years, when humans began to record their honey-hunting activities in charcoal and chalk pictographs on cave walls. Honey was a valuable food source for our ancestors and they collected it avidly.
As the hunter-gatherer societies settled into self-sustaining family groups, small garden plots became a familiar center of agriculture and social stability. Honey bees adapted to the increasingly organized agricultural system, attracted to the flowering fruit and vegetable crops that sustained their own hive and honey production needs. In return, the bees enhanced pollination and increased harvest yields for their human partners.
Over the intervening millennia, this interspecies friendship has evolved into the practices of modern beekeeping, generating dozens of crop-specific industries. Roughly 100 of the world’s favorite food crops are now directly reliant upon honeybee pollination, which translates to about 40 percent of the human diet.
Today, however, the very capacity for cross-species cooperation that gave rise to the human-honeybee relationship has also given rise to a host of unintended consequences, including a phenomenon dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder, in which resident honey bees simply vanish from hives.
Something is seriously wrong and scientists are stumped. Some observers call the situation the “perfect storm” of circumstances, which includes the proliferation of pesticide and chemical use in mono-crop production; poor queen breeding practices; loss of genetic diversity; immune system weaknesses; global trade expansion, introducing alien pests against which local bees haven’t had time to develop resistance; mystery viruses; and the usual pests, threats and challenges of sustaining healthy, resilient colonies that can produce strong queen bees.
Hope for saving the world’s hardest-working pollinator may lie in finding ways to dramatically increase honeybee research funding, which is being decreased in some states, due to budget cuts…
A powerfully positive alternative action, encouraged by under-funded researchers, is for private individuals to take up small-scale beekeeping.
“An army of amateur beekeepers could become part of an eventual solution by helping to collect field data in a wide array of microclimates and conditions,” suggests David Tarpy, Ph.D., the state apiculturist and an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University…”
The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.
Kickstarter: “BEE”: Short Film (Narrative)
by Raphael Hitzke
Fund raising ends Jul 01, 03:30pm EDT (only 3 days left!!)
Click below to donate!
Will You Help Legalize Urban Beekeeping in Mar Vista?
“As the national interest in urban beekeeping grows, cities like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle have joined the movement and legalized the practice. These cities recognize just how important bees are to the future of our way of life.
Yet, as bees are quickly vanishing due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), some cities like Los Angeles have yet to legalize urban beekeeping. In the Mar Vista community of L.A., a group of activists is ready to change that. Chelsea and Rob McFarland recently started a petition on Change.org asking the Mar Vista Community Council to support beekeeping in the region and work to repeal Los Angeles Municipal Code 50.03, which makes beekeeping illegal.
Working in collaboration with the Mar Vista Community Council Green Committee and Backwards Beekeepers, the McFarlands started honeylove.org to raise awareness and gain support for the legalization of urban beekeeping in Mar Vista and Los Angeles as a whole. After speaking in front of the Mar Vista Community Council, Chelsea and Rob gained unanimous approval of a feasibility study on legalizing beekeeping.
Their work is certainly important — bees are responsible for pollinating about one-third of America’s food supply. Without bees, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy staples of our diets like apples, nuts, soybeans, broccoli, and cucumbers, as well as some of the tastiest flowering crops out there, such as peaches, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, citrus fruits, and melons. Even our cattle, which feed primarily on alfalfa, rely on bees to pollinate their food. Even President Obama supports urban beekeeping — he keeps two beehives on the White House lawn.
While the Mar Vista Community Council approved the feasibility study, they’ve yet to fully legalize beekeeping in the community. That’s where the McFarlands’ petition comes in. You can help the couple push for legal beekeeping in Mar Vista. Add your signature to the petition, and enable the citizens of Mar Vista to play their part in saving our food system through urban beekeeping.”
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
Help us save the honey bees!!
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