[permaculture] more on honeybees
lbsaltzman at aol.com
lbsaltzman at aol.com
Wed Mar 7 17:30:24 EST 2007
I think the post is on to something. The mass trucking of honeybee hives is starting to sound like bee monoculture which makes the problems not surprising. I live in the city and have a backyard food forest on approx. a third of an acre of land. We don't keep bees, but I am seeing an amazing variety of honeybees, native bees, bumblebees and other pollinators thriving on our seventy odd fruit, nut and seed trees as well as berries and other flowering plants.
From: evansdk at earthlink.net
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 2:18 PM
Subject: [permaculture] more on honeybees
I sent the last post about honeybees to a beekeeper friend and thought some
might be interested in his reply:
"About the honeybees: They've been on the ropes for most of the
last decade, and it is unclear to me whether the current hullabaloo
reflects a new disaster or just more press coverage of their ongoing
plight. Previously, unexplained honeybee demise has been attributed to
PMS - parasitic mite syndrome - perpetrated by the Asian mite, varoa
destructor. Varoa has decimated feral honeybee populations. In the
past several years, varoa has become increasingly resistant to the
chemical treatments that had protected the domestic honeybees. So it
may be that the current cataclysm reflects this resurgence of the
mites and the viruses they carry. And then there is a much smaller
mite, Acarapis woodi, that lives in the trachea of honey bees; it
disorients them, so they fly away and don't come back - a symptom often
mentioned in the current news releases. But then again there could be
something totally new and mysterious and ugly wreaking havoc.
And then there are the "unnatural" aspects of honeybees that may
contribute to the problem. They are not native to North America. But
they've been on the continent for over 300 years (how long does a
hardworking illegal alien insect have to endure before it qualifies
for a green card?). So most of the plants that require honeybees for
pollination - e.g., almonds - are not native. I suspect honeybees may
have replaced some of the less-efficient native bees (and other
pollinating insects) that were doing a fine job of pollinating the
native plants before the honeybees invaded. The way domestic honeybees
are kept is also not natural. Hundreds of hives in close proximity may
be the bee equivalent of factory hog farms. (On the other had, a
single feral hive is a little like a very well-run factory hog farm).
And beekeepers load thousands of hives onto semis and haul them across
the country to pollinate crops - the going rate for almonds is over
$100 dollars/hive; this insures that any local pestilence will be
efficiently disseminated to the entire country.
To help the wild bees, I can't think of anything better than your
suggestion, to plant things they like - preferably native plants that
native bees like. The native bees may well not be subject to the
pestilences of honeybees. I haven't heard of harvester bees - unless
they are the same as carpenter bees that live in holes in wood, and are
If you ever thought of keeping bees, I would tell you, as you put
it, that your were nuts. But then that's something of a prerequisite.
C. P. Dadant, an ancient bee guru said, "Beekeeping is a business that
requires the greatest amount of attention to small details ... The good
beekeeper is generally more or less cranky."
evansdk at earthlink.net
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