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Our bees need us: Part 1

Bees – our most precious insects – are in trouble in Vancouver and around the world.

Three years ago there were 12,000 honey beehives on Vancouver Island. This year there are 2,000.

One out of three bites we take depend on bees. We consume the honey that they make and we consume the crops they pollinate: kale, broccoli, cabbage, apples, pears, blueberries, thyme and basil, for starters.

No other insect performs such a crucial role within our ecosystems or are as essential to our continued survival.

I didn’t get this until I read Arlene Kroeker’s The King of Bees article and interviewed local master bee keeper Brian Campbell who is featured in this new documentary Saving the Life Keepers.

1. Why are we losing bees on our planet?

Unfortunately what is causing bees to die off is very complex and interwoven with the fabric of our society. It’s not one thing but a multitude of things: pesticides, ecological degradation, the rise of industrial agriculture, urban sprawl, and climate change among others. Solving this problem is going to take some effort to put the basis of our way of being into a more sustainable mode.

2. What is the difference between ethical bee keeping and the conventional approach?

Beecentric beekeeping is focused on the welfare of our bees like keeping them in one place so they may integrate into the surrounding ecology, creating a harmonious hive environment that is chemical free as much as possible, respecting the soil and harvesting only the the surplus honey once the bees have what they need.

In conventional beekeeping the emphasis is on making money, chemical control of pathogens, moving hives for migratory pollination, taking all the honey and feeding sugar in exchange. Plastic is used extensively as foundation.

It is important to remember that all beekeepers love their bees and are beekeepers because they love beekeeping. There is a lot about conventional and commercial beekeeping that I don’t like but all beekeepers are worthy of respect and recognition for the positive contributions they make.

3. What can we do to help the bees?

Check out Brian’s Blessed Bee Community Apiary and Bee School site  or email blessedbeefarm.1@gmail.com for more info on the tips below.

1. Support a local, organic and non-gmo lifestyle as much as possible to promote a healthier planet.

2. Buy local honey to help support local bee keepers. Honey from overseas might be cheaper but does nothing for the local bees and bee keepers.

3. Grow native plants like blackberry and dutch white clover, which are four times as popular with wild bees.

4. Grow colourful, fragrant heirloom flowers with diverse blooming times, so there’s always forage for bees.

Coming up next week

Brian clears up the confusion about what kind of honey is best and talks about the Blessed Bee honey he produces. Plus a special recipe I found that is grain free, dairy free da da da and sweetened with honey!

Info sources

Excerpts cited and paraphrased from Arlene Kroeker’s The King of Bees article

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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