Abusive, nasty industrial beekeepers are rapidly destroying not just their own captive colonies but wild colonies and even my own blessed, beloved bee hives. My wild queen bee says, 'Enough! How dare such peasants destroy my kingdom!' I agree.
By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO
Published: February 27, 2007
VISALIA, Calif., Feb. 23 — David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.
In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.
Right away my hackles rise, reading this. All over the news are stories about the collapse of bee populations. I have been beekeeping for years. I used to have domestic queens purchased from Georgia. Thanks to the destructive beekeeping practices guys like Bradshaw uses, all my commercial bee hives died terrible deaths due to disease.
I was so depressed, I didn't keep bees for two years. Then one day, a wild queen and her consorts found the old, empty beehives in the garage and moved in. Since then, they have flourished and I leave them alone except to protect their hive from bears and bad weather. They pollinate my fruit trees and garden vegetables and they give me honey.
From the NYT article:
To give bees energy while they are pollinating, beekeepers now feed them protein supplements and a liquid mix of sucrose and corn syrup carried in tanker-sized trucks costing $12,000 per load. Over all, Mr. Bradshaw figures, in recent years he has spent $145 a hive annually to keep his bees alive, for a profit of about $11 a hive, not including labor expenses. The last three years his net income has averaged $30,000 a year from his 4,200 bee colonies, he said.
“A couple of farmers have asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” Mr. Bradshaw said. “I ask myself the same thing. But it is a job I like. It is a lifestyle. I work with my dad every day. And now my son is starting to work with us.”
Well. I learn something new every day. This article has a photograph of a beekeeper using a gasoline nozzle hose (!!!!!) to pump gooey, messy corn syrup directly into the hives? What the hell?
This sort of stupid, hair-brained activity is exactly why we are seeing an unfolding farm disaster! Be it inhuman treatment of egg-laying hens, over-crowded turkeys, geese being force-fed with hoses, pigs in tiny cages on cement floors, cows never let out to graze: many modern practices are wickedly evil and destructive for the animals, the humans and the entire planet earth.
The poor bees in this story are being viciously abused by greedy humans who want money no matter what. First, storing millions of bees right on top of each other is bad: it spreads diseases, creates great anxiety since bees hate living too close to each other's hives, and it allows parasites easy access to new hosts. Traditionally, beekeeping was a side enterprise. Like egg laying hens: you use them at home and sell the excess and no one had too many. The danger of any farming enterprise is overpopulation, not underpopulation.
Over-grazing fields, too much manure from pigs and cows, chickens attacking each other when overcrowded: these are many stress points in farming. One had to expand the farm if one wanted to increase the number of animals. Thanks to modern technology like cutting off the top beaks of all domestic birds so they can't fight each other, farmers can happily overpopulate farms.
Disastrously! In the case of the beekeepers pumping corn syrup into hives: bees are the cleanest insects. They clean each other, the queen is constantly attended. They clean their hives carefully. They happily steal honey or sugar water, during difficult times, I put out goodies for them, the best way is to soak sugar on an old hive frame that has a wax comb. Corn syrup isn't the same as cane sugar. The human obesity epidemic is partially fueled by the huge increase in the use of corn syrup in nearly everything we eat that is manufactured. I wonder if it is not good for bees, too.
I wonder if the bees are fleeing these contaminated hives that had syrup poured all over their clean homes? After desperately licking their hives clean again, they are over-satiated, 'fat' even, and possibly drunk. Namely, that much sugar is a toxin at that point.
On top of this, the monoculture farming is bad for bees who love variety and color. There would be no flowers or sweet smells if there were no bees! And all flowers compete for the attention of the bees, they evolved many designs and colors, the bees are very capricious and picky. Some prefer one style of flower over another. I love watching them in summer.
The bees will hover in front of a bunch of wild flowers growing along the fence line. Up and down they bob, examining the pretty flowers, approaching first one, than another. After a good, long examination, they select the lucky flower and buzz into it and go to work. Laden with pollen and nectar, they bounce back home and excitedly tell the others all about the lovely purple or yellow flowers they found.
We know bees communicate their enthusiasms. When trapped in a place where all things are alike, this happiness is reduced and stress rises because they can't be picky! I know that wild birds love to be very picky about nest materials selections.
Hens are intensely happy if we give them several different nest boxes, some high, some low. Each hen has 'her' favorite box! Because they choose these nests, they are content and let me even pick them up off their nests while they are laying eggs. Not so much as a murmur or peck.
May R. Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois, is the author of “Buzzwords: A Scientist Muses on Sex, Bugs and Rock ’n’ Roll.”
Theories abound as to potential causes of what is being called colony collapse disorder. As a social species living in close quarters at high densities — the average hive contains upwards of 30,000 insects — honeybees are prone to a staggering diversity of fungal, bacterial and viral diseases. In the 1980s, honeybee numbers plummeted when two species of parasitic mites appeared, wiping out most populations of wild bees and placing more pressure on managed colonies. This latest drop in numbers may be the consequence of a new infection, or of several diseases simultaneously, leading to a fatally compromised immune system.
It is also possible that severe stress brought on by crowding, inadequate nutrition or even the combined effects of prophylactic antibiotics and miticides sprayed by beekeepers to ward off infections may be a factor. Another, particularly sad, possibility is that accidental exposure to a new pesticide may cause non-lethal behavioral changes that interfere with the ability of honeybees to orient and navigate; brain-damaged foraging bees may simply get lost on their way home and starve to death away from the hive.
All the causes are human. Bees have existed for longer than we have existed. They evolved right alongside the first flowers and deciduous trees. As the dinosaurs died, the bees redesigned the landscape so it bore little resemblance to the Jurassic and became 'modern'. We would be very depressed, walking around 100 million years ago. There were no flowers or bees.
Here we are, using chemicals and genetic engineering, destroying the beautiful, colorful world the birds and bees made for us! The insect expert even mentions using modern genetic engineering to make bees work for us as our prisoners if only we can alter them so they are no longer real bees!
This is criminal! The bee's collective needs for artistic expression, colorful environment, exciting interactions with the other members of the hive, defending their homelands from others including other bees, the fun of the queen flying forth to mate with male drones from other hives, an event that excites all the hives at once as they have basically an orgy. The hunt for a new home when a Princess emerges from her bed, the sleeping beauty awakening and then sending forth her maids of honor to find a new home!
I set up my new hives when this happens! I put one under the oak tree in the middle of the horse pasture, one near the forest's edge, or down by the garden. Of course, they love the oak tree or garden residences best. The scouts looking for a new hive will buzz in and out of various places before escorting Her Majesty to Her new palace.
Long Live the Queen! Long Live Her Majesty!