Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What is going on with the bees?

“What is going on with the bees?”

“How are the honeybees doing?”

These are a couple of the questions that I frequently get asked when I let people know that I am a bee keeper. The answer changes constantly depending on the mood I am in, but as with all answers that come from my lips, the onus comes down to me and it comes down to you.

By now we have all read at least one news report on the bees. Chances are that everyone has a slight understanding of the life of a hive and how the little ladies are mysteriously disappearing. We have been hearing new reports for years about pathogens being spread on the farms. From e.coli in the spinach to avian flu in the chickens. Buffalos butchered for fear of mad cow disease, whole flocks of chickens being murdered for fear of avian flu. Industrialized farming is in a grisly time. When the only answer to a problem is to kill or clone, it seems to me, we have reached the conclusion. The bees are a species that we cannot live without and now we are growing more aware of the intricacies of the web of life. Industrialized farming has no way of humbling itself to its defeat.


When man started creating from a mechanical point of view it was much to the relief of many of our forefathers and mothers. Life was a bit more predictable and they were a bit farther away from the chaos of the natural world. Shearing a sheep, carding the wool, spinning the hairs and knitting your blanket sure takes a lot of effort that can be much more easily dealt with by a machine. So many tasks are happily given over to the predictability and ease of a machine.

But when we started to view life as a machine is when it started to go downhill. How many times have I heard someone refer to my body like a car, or my brain like a computer? Life is dynamic, it flows and has many variations that escape human understanding and logic. Life does not come in 90 degree angles nor should we expect it to. But we have been taught as such and continue down that road to collapse.

Colony collapse disorder

Right, the bees, that is what I was here to write about wasn’t it?

And so what can we, you or I, do?

Recognize that industry is feeding you.

You are relying on a very fragile food system that is quickly collapsing and getting more violent and invasive every day (yes, the cattle men are starting to talk about cloning cows so that they produce less methane in their poo…then they can market their product as having a smaller carbon footprint!).

If you can’t grow your own food, support someone who can.

Local food may be more expensive in the short term, but you are building a food secure tomorrow by investing in the small strong farmers today.

What is killing the bees is industry and the only way to save the bees as well as ourselves is to step away from the hands that are feeding us and take the power into our own hands. The next decisive steps we are to take will not be easy, but they will be satisfying if made with the intricate, mysterious web of life in mind.

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