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Tag Archives | urbanbeekeeping

Small beekeepers could be the solution to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

“We can thank the honeybee for four of every 10 bites of food we eat, so for area beekeepers, their efforts aren’t just about the honey. Many beekeepers feel they are doing their part in helping the survival of what is likely our most important domestic species.

The Lou Marchi Total Recycling Institute at McHenry County College (MCC) hosted a screening of the documentary Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us? Oct. 25, followed by a panel discussion with beekeepers from the Northern Illinois Beekeepers Association.

The critically-acclaimed film by Taggart Seigel tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of bees through stunning photography, humorous animations, and some very entertaining and colorful beekeepers.

The film looks at the 10,000-year history of honeybees as a domesticated species, from ancient times when honeybees were considered sacred to today’s corporate agriculture practice of shipping honeybees thousands of miles in flatbed trucks to pollinate almond groves in California and blueberries in Maine.

In recent years, honeybees have been disappearing mysteriously; America has lost millions of colonies. The sudden death of honeybee colonies is called Colony Collapse Disorder. Beekeepers and scientists in the film point to chemical pesticides, single-crop farming or monoculture, and the industrialization of beekeeping as reasons for CCD.

“Their crisis is our crisis. It’s colony collapse disorder of the human being too,” said Gunther Hauk, a biodynamic beekeeper who operates Spikenard Farm, a honeybee sanctuary in Virginia.

Experts in the film see bees as a barometer of the health of the world. Queen of The Sun refers to Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner who predicted the collapse of honeybees in 1923.  “The mechanization of beekeeping and industrialization will eventually destroy beekeeping,” Steiner predicted.

“We have to wake up early enough to make a change,” said biochemist and beekeeper David Heaf, in the documentary.

The film considers reasons for the crisis and presents solutions as well. Helping the honeybee survive can be as simple as growing bee-friendly flowers, shunning pesticides, and buying local, raw honey. Those really interested in helping honeybees should learn beekeeping.

“I really think that small time beekeepers are one of the solutions to the problem,” said Larry Krengel, a McHenry County beekeeper and panelist after the screening. Krengel is a member of the Northern Illinois Beekeeper Association and teaches beekeeping at MCC and other area colleges…

Like chicken keeping, many suburbs don’t allow beekeeping. However, big cities like Chicago and Milwaukee do allow both backyard chickens and beehives. Chicago’s City Hall even has beehives on its rooftop garden…”

[click here to read the full article on grayslake.patch.com]

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Alexis Kienlen: The birds and the bees

“It’s strange that we continue to vilify an insect that is so important to us. The negative attitude against bees can be seen when people start discussing urban beekeeping. Many cities, including the city of Edmonton, have not legalized urban beekeeping. This is a pretty sad, since urban bees add to food security and biodiversity within a city. People who argue against urban beekeeping say that it is a danger to people, because of the risk of death from bee stings. In fact, the proportion of people who are allergic to bee stings is quite small. Only about .4 per cent of the American population is allergic to bee stings. According to Statistics Canada, 22 people died from bee stings in Canada between 2000 and 2006. More people die each year from falling down stairs. Most bees will only sting if they are endangered, and most of the time, people are stung by wasps.

The lack of knowledge about bees and the role they play in pollination has hindered the urban beekeeping movement. I know a man who kept a hive of bees in his yard even though it wasn’t legal in Edmonton. He contacted his neighbours and told them he would be keeping a hive on his property. His neighbours told him they were fine with this. Then one day, an animal services officer showed up at his place and told him there had been a complaint. One of his neighbours had found out keeping bees in Edmonton was illegal, and she had reported him. The beekeeper had to remove his bees from the city or risk a $500 a day fine. He later found out which neighbour had reported him and asked her if his bees had been bothering her. She told him, with complete seriousness, “Well, they were all over my garden and were buzzing around my flowers.”

I wish people would realize the importance of the bee’s work, and work to preserve these fascinating creatures. People often talk about endangered tigers, polar bears or sharks, yet they don’t seem to think about what they can do to preserve the honeybee, a creature that has a more direct impact on the average human life than a tiger or a polar bear.

In my perfect world, urban beekeeping would be legal in all cities. Beekeeping would be as common as gardening and people would relax in their yards, drink a cup of tea sweetened with a spoonful of honey, and sit and watch their bees.”

[click here to read the original article on arts.nationalpost.com]

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about the importance of environmental awareness

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VIDEO: Cultivating bees on the rise in New Jersey

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VIDEO: City-dwellers swarm to urban beekeeping

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http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

THE BEES OF BERLIN: The German capital is witnessing a beekeeping revival, which is good news for the environment.

Bee numbers are decreasing all over the world, including in Germany, where disease, mites and the use of insecticides have halved bee populations since the 1980s.

In Germany the problem is exacerbated by the increase in the age profile of beekeepers, which meant that the art of beekeeping was starting to die out – bad news for the environment, as bees pollinate about 80 per cent of all flowers including vegetable, fruit crops and deciduous trees.

Surprisingly, cities can play a key role in boosting bees’ numbers. With their diverse range of plant life and milder climates, they can actually provide better habitats for bees than rural areas, where monoculture farming is detrimental to their health. 

The last few years has seen a huge resurgence of interest in urban beekeeping worldwide, and there are now 570 apiarists in Berlin alone.

Sinead O’Shea meets some of the enthusiastic new converts in the German capital who are helping to revive beekeeping.

[click here to view the original post on aljazeera.com]

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Urban bee-keeping talk at Petersham Nurseries

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Honey Bees in the City

“Not just for farm folk these days, keeping bees is becoming a popular urban activity.

In fact, as more big cities legalize beekeeping — especially with New York’s much-publicized reversal of its urban beekeeping ban in 2010 — and with growing concerns about food safety, long-distance transportation of food, and awareness of the importance of pollination, small-scale beekeeping on city roof tops and in suburban backyards… urban beekeeping is all the buzz! 

In addition to the environmental and nutritional benefits to keeping bees (whether you want to pollinate your vegetable garden for greater harvest, or produce your own sweet natural honey, or both), experienced beekeepers will tell you there’s a “spiritual” benefit to keeping honey bees.

The comforting hum and orderly activity of a well-functioning colony of Apis Mellifera, and the remarkable sense of being part of a centuries-old tradition of insect husbandry – well, there’s just no better fix for our stressed-out busy modern lifestyle!”

[click here to read the original article on squidoo.com]

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Honeybees, the new urban dwellers

“Honeybees play a vital role in many areas of our lives – they pollinate our crops and medicinal plants – but their population has decreased by 30% since 2008. Could our towns and cities now provide them with a safe haven?


Major cities around the world such as London, New York, Hong Kong and Paris are encouraging bees to set up home in the city. Rooftops, small urban gardens and even balconies are providing potential safe-havens for honeybees, our newest and, in many ways, most-important urban dwellers.

The future of mankind is dependent on the survival of the bee.

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80% of our food crops worldwide, therefore risks to their health threaten our own food security. Many medicines, an enormous part of our textile industry and, of course, perfumes and cosmetics also rely on flowers and plants that are pollinated by bees.

In short we have the honeybee to thank for the basic components of our daily lives, from the food we eat and the drugs we need, to the clothes we wear – and that’s without beginning to consider items of luxury.

However, the honeybee population has decreased by 30% since 2008 and the reasons for their poor health are multifaceted. Today the rural environment poses severe health risks to bees through intensive farming methods and the use of pesticides.

“Mono crop” farming means that many bees now have a “mono pollen diet”. This could be detrimental to their health as pollen provides bees with protein; as each pollen variety contains different nutrients that are needed to maintain good health, missing out on certain nutrients leaves bees vulnerable to diseases.

Bees that miss out on a balanced diet can also become more susceptible to parasites, such as the varroa mite, or colony collapse disorder, which is believed to be caused by a combination of fungal and viral infections.

Such threats mean the honeybee could potentially have a better chance of survival in urban environments.

City living potentially provides a rich and varied source of pollen that gives bees all the nutrients and enzymes they require for their good health.

Bees that live in the city may also benefit from new kinds of beehive designs that have been created specifically for urban bees.

This growth in the urban honeybee population, and the need for it to be encouraged, calls for not only new type of homes which are suitable for beekeeping, but also a complete re-examination of our relationship with honeybees where they live beside us and we welcome their presence.”

[click here to read the original article on guardian.co.uk]

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