Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Perfect Pollinators I: Bees

It's springtime in New York, and the trees are all blooming. The flowers are pretty of course, but they serve a much greater purpose. All the flowers are there so that those plants can reproduce. A plant can't create seeds, nuts, berries, fruits and eventually more plants without those flowers being pollinated. Some plants can be pollinated by the wind, but the vast majority of them are are dependent on flying animals to do the job for them. Those animals are bees, birds, bats, and some other insects.

You have probably heard of Colony Collapse Disorder, bee colonies are dying off at an alarming rate. They've found that what all the bees that succumb to this are stressed out, but there is no other universal connection. Native bees are also being rapidly replaced by Africanized honey bees in the warmer parts of the country. We need our pollinators, so in the case of bees we must look to the slow movement and start thinking about slow bees. Ross Conrad, a soapmaker and beekeeper in Middlebury Vermont, just published a book called Natural Beekeeping as a guide to this increasingly important field. In Vermont, beekeeping is a hobby and cottage industry for many people. You can often see signs in people's front yards advertising their fresh honey. But I haven't noticed it in the rest of the U.S. If you have a back yard and are at all interested in this, first watch this video, and then consider getting the book and starting your own colony.

There is a new blog about the local beekeeping community in The West River Valley of Vermont which is just getting itself together, but it turned me onto Ross Conrad and his book.

Update: Of course you might not want to keep bees. How can you get in on the natural beekeeping movement? Of course they sell honey. Look for more natural honey at your local farmer's market.


Katie said...

The Beekeepers Lament:

Junio said...

Thanks for the video Katie.

for people's convenience Here's the video.

The article is also quite interesting. It explains that after removing the bees, he kills the queen and replaces it with a European one to be sure that the bees won't be aggressive.