It is impossible to discuss the future of beekeeping without discussing the future of agriculture. Presently, we have created a mono culture, agro-chemical dependant, fossil fuel dependant agriculture system that is destined to fail within this century as we exhaust our supply of fossil fuel on earth (oil). We have created an agricultural landscape that is lifeless. The soil is inert or sterile so requires the constant addition of potassium, phosphorus and nitrates. The universal inclusion of genetically modified, neonicotinoid, systemic pesticide infused seeds assures us of an unnatural, lifeless landscape and the constantly adapting pests assures the agro-chemcial companies of a constant, dependant market for their product. Like a junkie in need of a fix. Bees can not survive in this toxic environment (See Insecticides and Bees and the Beekeepers' Library). Most would agree that the future of agriculture and the health of our children should not be placed in the hands of agro-chemical companies (i.e. Monsanto).
One possible alternative is permaculture farming which although vastly different from traditional farming shows some merit. As someone who has worked in a traditional farm setting it is initially difficult to grasp this concept of natural farming with the inclusion of trees and bugs and weeds. However, as you observe the process you begin to understand the intelligence of Mother Nature. Every living thing has a purpose and provides naturally what our present day agricultural system uses toxic chemicals to accomplish. Will the permaculture system provide food for 7 billion people? My preliminary investigation of relatively small scale operations shows positive results but perhaps the future of farming lies in a combination of permaculture, alternative fuels and a more healthy and vastly different (less grain or rice dependant) diet.
In this documentary wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates the future of her traditional, family farm in Devon.
"With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family's wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year's high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is. Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future."
A permaculture farm is a much healthier environment than the traditional farm for all species of bees because of the variety of plants, natural habitat for nesting and the lack of toxic chemical use (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides). To learn more about permaculture go to the Bee Videos section of this website to view "Plants for a Future" and "In Grave Danger of Falling Food".