Monday, October 6, 2008

It seems to me that all year long every periodical I picked up had a troubling story about the state of affairs in regards to our sacred pollinators, the bees. Being an apiarist and lover of the honeybees, I was struck with who was concerned about the problems facing the bees and the constant question of “what can we do?” It is such a big question and one I have pondered every day of my adult life.

My answers are idealist as well as practical. I believe that we must change the state of bee keeping practices. We have to demand for a better way of life for farmers and the things they farm. The bees are an indicator species and what they are indicating is that we are all connected, that there is no separation in the sacred web of life. The fear I see in peoples eyes is alarming and comforting at the same time. It is denial that has gotten us to this point and if the possible loss of our pollinators is our alarm clock then I say come on out and let’s get moving!

There is a quote from Rudolf Steiner regarding artificially rearing of queen bees (a common practice today) “…we’ll have to wait and see how things will look after fifty to eighty years. Certain forces that have operated organically in the beehive until now will become mechanized; will in themselves be mechanically carried out. It won’t be possible to establish the intimate relationship between a queen bee you have purchased and the worker bees the way it would arise all by itself in nature. But at the beginning, the effects of this are not apparent” In 1923 most of the men hearing this lecture could not fathom what he was speaking of. Hindsight is always the clearest, but in the understanding of treating nature as a machine, we as a society find it very difficult to switch out of the economy of efficiency.

Nature does not work like a machine, and in that truth we are beginning to see that in treating it as such we have minimized the integrity and health of life on the planet. We suppress the growth of the Hive and control their natural inclinations. We feed them corn syrup, white sugar and genetically modified soy and move them around 100’s of miles bi weekly. And then we wonder why their immune systems are weak! They are stressed and malnourished. It is pretty simple. A few years ago it was encouraged practice (it may still be) to let your hive die or to kill it every winter as it was more profitable to take their honey ($300-$400) and buy a new artificially reared hive in the spring ($100-$200). This makes sense in the capitalistic mind. Profit is to be made here. We all got to make a buck don’t we? And it falls in line with so many immoral and unsustainable farming practices. It is the state of industrialized farming. Getting as much out of whatever I am farming for the highest profit. It is wrong and it is sending us all to our demise.

So what can you do? View your money as a tool. So many people I know donate money to charitable environmental organizations and then nickel and dime at the Safeway. So much of our environmental degradation comes from our vast acres of farmland. Use your time as a tool. Take the time to shop at the farmers market and feed your family local, organic food. Try to support small local farmers whenever you can. Learn to read labels. You could also plant flowers that attract bees such as fennel, calendula, daisy, Echinacea, dandelion, sunflower, borage, lavender, bee balm. You can encourage native mason bees to your home to help pollinate that trees in your yard. There are also opportunities to have a local bee keeper come to your home and help you set up a honey bee hive and you can raise your own bees or have the bee keeper come and do it for you. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at HYPERLINK ""

Tammy Toad Ryan spent the decade of her twenties traveling North America studying an array of farming and healing techniques. She landed in Vancouver via Salt Spring Island over 2 years ago to encourage more agriculture in the city. The honeybees are a fine urban companion for her due to their wild nature and loving spirit.

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