His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about the importance of environmental awareness
VIDEO: Cultivating bees on the rise in New Jersey
VIDEO: City-dwellers swarm to urban beekeeping
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.
Urban bee-keeping talk at Petersham Nurseries
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!”
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.”
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Signed items for ebay auction to benefit HONEYLOVE.org (Los Angeles based nonprofit conservation organization with a mission to protect the honeybees and inspire and educate new urban beekeepers).
Charity auction includes: True Blood reel, Rolling Stone, and ties signed by Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) and Kristin Bauer Van Straten (Pam Swynford De Beaufort).
Victory! Backyard Beekeeping Approved by Mar Vista Community Council
“After months of campaigning and a lot of hard work from grassroots, local food organizations like Honeylove, California beekeepers received a big break. At the Mar Vista Community Council meeting last night, a motion was passed to allow for the implementation of a Beekeeping Pilot Program in Mar Vista, a neighborhood in Los Angeles.
The move came after more than 1,900 Change.org members signed a petition created by Mar Vista residents Chelsea and Rob McFarland, the founders of Honeylove. The request for a pilot beekeeping program will now move on to the Los Angeles City Council.
In the Community Council’s own words: “The [Mar Vista Community Council] Board therefore recommends the implementation of a Beekeeping Pilot Program in [order] to test safety and develop best practices for future expansion. We urge the City of LA to adopt a policy that includes conditions relating to maintenance, location, registration and notification to assure for the safety of all residents which may result in the continued preservation of quality of life and preservation of single-family residential districts.”
Essentially, the Mar Vista Community Council voted in favor of urban beekeeping in its community, a small section of the larger city of Los Angeles. Now it’s up to the Los Angeles City Council to decide if the beekeepers can, in fact, have their pilot program in Mar Vista.
Honeylove and other beekeeping advocates worked very hard on this campaign, spreading awareness about the need for urban beekeeping programs. Bees provide a full one-third of America’s food supply through pollination, so the McFarlands feel that Los Angeles should support beekeeping in the city. Beekeeping is also especially essential right now, as a large percentage of America’s honeybees have been dying off recently due to Colony Collapse Disorder.
Thanks to all of you who supported this petition, and stayed tuned! Chelsea McFarland plans to eventually start a new campaign urging the Los Angeles City Council to support the pilot beekeeping program.”
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.”
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