photo by gardendog.tumblr.com
The vegan ethic is complex and nuanced. Any vegan that says otherwise is itching for a (respectful, intelligent, I hope) fight. So I may as well be calling this piece, ‘It’s actually impossible to be vegan, but we are all doing our best.’ To me, veganism is about trying to live in harmony with the planet. My beekeeping is not an exception to my veganism. It is a well-thought out amendment. It might even make me a better vegan, depending on how much of this you follow along with.
Still, I am a beekeeper and I am a vegan and that is a sticking point for about 50% of the vegans I know. This is my attempt to explain my position. I am vegan because I deeply care about animal rights. I dig the other benefits, but in my heart, I believe eating animals is wrong. My purpose for saying so is that it needs to be clear from the start that I really care about bees. I am not arguing that I think killing bees or treating them with anything but the utmost respect is OK. I don’t keep bees because they fall outside of my deeply felt consideration. In fact, I think bees are amazing…
Whenever I think about the shortcomings of the human species, I always end up being reminded of the near perfection of bees. Selfless, female-dominated, self-reliant, dancing, mysterious bees.
Human life as we know it is dependent on bees. It is true that there are wild bee populations; but they are dying. It is a widely held belief within the beekeeping community, and those educated about what commercial beekeeping has done to the world’s bee population, that small-scale “backyard beekeepers” hold the key to preserving disease resistant stock that can survive to pollinate all the foods upon which vegans and non-vegans rely. About 1/3 of the human diet can be traced back to bee pollinated foods…
The point is vegans need plants, and plants need bees. And bees make honey.
Research bees stolen from scientists trying to test effects of pesticides
A $3.3 million research project into colony collapse disorder (CCD), the phenomenon of honeybees mysteriously dying in droves, lost thousands of its test bees to thieves. Researchers at the Center for Neurosciences at Dundee University in Scotland, reported that the British black bees, contained in four hives, were taken on the morning of Sunday, May 8, 2011.
The monetary value of the bees, in the vicinity of $5,000-$6,000, is only part of the reason for the researchers’ dismay at the bee burglary. “This theft will undoubtedly hamper our research,” said lead researcher of the project Dr. Chris Connolly who called the theft “disheartening” for the research team.
The thieves apparently worked quickly and had some knowledge of bee handling. Connolly stated that “The bees were there when I arrived at work on Sunday morning but were absent when I went to work on them 20 minutes later.” Police in the area are pursuing leads about a sighting of two men in a white van seen near the research center around the time of the theft. One of the men may have been wearing a beekeeper’s helmet. Dr. Connolly described the stolen bees as “very unique” and suggested they would be easily identifiable if recovered.
Hmmm, let’s play armchair detective and think about this.
Who would want to steal bees? It could be, as Dr. Connolly speculated, someone wanting the bees as breeding stock for the lucrative bee farming business? Large-scale bee businesses can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by renting their hives to farmers for use in pollinating crops. With the decline in bee populations due to CCD, bees have become scarcer, resulting in a growing apian black market.
But unlike most bee thefts, this one took place at a university, not a bee farm. Is there another suspect? Remember, these bees were part of a research project investigating colony collapse disorder. Many scientists and environmentalists have speculated that CCD in bees, like white-nose syndrome in bats, afflicts pollinators because they come into close contact with plants sprayed with pesticides.
Who might want to prevent research that could potentially verify the link between the toxic chemicals used on our crops and a mysterious decline in bee populations? Is it outside the realm of possibility that the list of suspects might look something like this: http://npic.orst.edu/ingred/manuf.htm
White House Bees
“These beautiful little beings supply us with one-third of our food, and they are quickly vanishing,” Page said at the premiere. “[The message of the film] is clearly here are imbalances we’ve created with our modern industrialized agriculture system and how we’re hurting the life that gives us life and have lost that sense of connectedness. Hopefully, despite it being frightening, and it should be frightening, there’s an opportunity here to regain that sense of connectedness.”
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