The Buzz Kill

If you haven’t heard about it, you should.

Millions of bees are missing [also in op/ed | originally seen on waldo’s site]. There’s been a nationwide drop in population this winter, and it’s not just bees dying. They’re disappearing. This is important for a few reasons. First off, most agriculture that involves any kind of flower (e.g. nuts, fruits, etc.) requires a honey bee to help with pollination. There are no good man-made equivalents to these guys running around doing that which they do. Second, it’s worrysome because no one knows why.

One potential reason for this is the rise in industrialized beekeeping. Large hives are literally driven around the country and overworked. Weak bees, weak immune systems, bye bye bees.

The article also points to (but does not expand upon) a bigger problem: local honey. This article by Tom Ogren discusses the benefits of local honey:

Allergies arise from continuous over-exposure to the same allergens. If, for example, you live in an area where there is a great deal of red clover growing, and if in addition you often feed red clover hay to your own horses or cattle, then it likely you are exposed over and over to pollen from this same red clover. Now, red clover pollen is not especially allergenic but still, with time, a serious allergy to it can easily arise. […] Honeybees will collect pollen from each of these species and it will be present in small amounts in honey that was gathered by bees that were working areas where these species are growing. When people living in these same areas eat honey that was produced in that environment, the honey will often act as an immune booster. The good effects of this local honey are best when the honey is taken a little bit (a couple of teaspoons-full) a day for several months prior to the pollen season.

Most of the honey you buy comes from China now.

Look at getting local and joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. I just joined the Bull Run Farm out in Haymarket. They deliver to 16th & P downtown once a week for the whole growing season.

Local honey might be more expensive on the sticker price1 but how much is your health worth? Would you rather spend hundreds of dollars on allergy shots, or a few dollars on local honey?

UPDATE (7/17/07): It possibly appears that organic bees aren’t suffering the same losses and it would appear that hyper-bred bees and excessively large hives are the issue. Man screws with something and then wonders why it all goes to hell.

1 This of course doesn’t take into account the cost of bringing the honey to market or environmental impacts of factory farming that make foreign prices less expensive in some cases

  1. chris says:

    yes, yes YES! You know, Rebeccablood posted about this a long time ago, and I was hard pressed to find anyone that did this locally. Glad to see the trend wasn't a trend, per se.

  2. Martha says:

    I've also kept bees off and on. templeterracegarden - they're not at all airsesggve, except when jostled or in bad weather - my kids played in the yard within 15 feet from the hives and were never stung (except when walking barefoot over clover!).I need to get some again. All the parts from two hives are waiting in my barn. You're lucky to have them in the yard - my pear trees were LOADED back when I had a hive going.

  3. Aniruddha says:

    Now you're an involuntary honey bee wragnler, too yee haw! They are struggling in these parts, so how nice of you to provide a rest stop for them. We need them (for example, ingesting local honey, I hear, can result in reduced allergic symptoms for some folk and heaven knows the allergies this spring are atrocious!) nice to know someone is looking out for the underdogbee.

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