Sunday, February 24, 2013

Free Beekeeping Class

     I am continuously seeking knowledge about beekeeping and have found to my surprise that American universities provide a wealth of free online educational services which include beekeeping.  As a Canadian I have found to my dismay that Canadian universities provide virtually no free online educational services. Although there are many great American university sources of information on beekeeping I have found Ohio State and Dr. James Tew to be particularly useful.  A posting I made last year, Beekeeping 101 lists powerpoint presentations, books and videos available to enable someone to begin their backyard beekeeping experience. Many people have asked me if it is possible to learn on your own about beekeeping and I have responded that it completely depends on the individual.  I should add that I think that actual hands on experience with experienced beekeepers is a must.  Also, I believe that one of the intriguing aspects of  beekeeping that it is a process of continuous learning.  
     A wonderful new addition to our learning experience has been provided by the University of California. The U of C has created the "Honey Bees and Colony Strength Evaluation" online beekeeping course free of charge.  The stated intended audience is apiary inspectors, beekeepers and farmers using honey bees for pollination.  I highly recommend it for the backyard beekeeper.  
     Below is the first video of a web-based beekeeping introductory training program from the Ohio State Beekeepers' Association.   

Assemblying Hive Equipment from osba on Vimeo.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Future of Food and Seed

     Scientist, ecologist and author Vandana Shiva discusses the present and future reality of seed production. A brilliant speaker, she articulately clarifies the present day seed production monopolization which is occurring as we speak.  A handful of agro corporations are monopolizing the world's seed production by buying out seed companies (including organic seed producers) and patenting their genetically modified seeds.  As a result non genetically modified seeds are in short supply and have become expensive.  Farmers no longer have a choice as to which seed to buy (The Truth about GM Crops).
     The seed is the essence of life, from which each generation more seeds are freely and naturally reproduced. This is the natural way of things since the beginning.  The seed corporations are attempting to change all of this.  If these gm seed producers are successful all seeds will be genetically modified, patented and contain systemic pesticides that make the whole plant toxic to bees and us.  Cargill, the seed producer says "They create seeds that prevent bees from usurping (stealing) pollen".  According to Monsanto "Roundup Ready Seeds prevent weeds from stealing sunshine".  The truth is that bees do not steal pollen but as pollinators create life naturally and roundup ready seeds have produced super weeds immune to herbicide.
     Here is a list of non gm, Monsanto-free seed companies, Monsanto-free seed companies.

"Without Seed Freedom there is no Food Freedom"
Vandana Shiva 

You do have the right to know how your food is produced!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Truth About GM Crops

     Genetically modified crops were sold by the Agrochemical corporations as the answer to feeding the world's ever growing population.  In reality gm crops have created superweeds, require more herbicides and pesticides, produce lower yields, have escalated seed prices and ultimately made the availability of non gm crops (seeds) extremely difficult.  The natural spread (wind, bird ...) of patented gm seeds has made it extremely difficult to find non gm seeds because of cross pollination.  Due to the monopolization of the seed market very little non gm seeds are now produced and are done so at a high price.  The truth is it is hard for a farmer to find non gm seeds today and if they do they are expensive.  Also, the gm seed is patented by the agrochemical corporations (Agrochemical Corp) and because of natural seed spread they can legitimately sue everyone that has their patented plant growing on their land even unintentionally and they are.  This monopolization of the production of our food is difficult to combat because of the corruption that exists in the highest levels of our government.  The politicians and agricultural research are funded by these same agrochemical corporations producing the patented gm seeds.
     What can you do to combat the unhealthy monopolization of our food production by the agrochemical giants like Monsanto that in the past have given us products like DDT, Agent Orange, Dioxins, PCB's, Plant Growth Hormone .... all of which have proven to cause horrible suffering (cancer, birth defects...) and death to millions of humans and devastation to the environment.  Be aware!  Speak out!  Support the labelling of gm products. Unfortunately most of the food products consumed now contain gm products.  Support your local, organic farmers and beekeepers.

"By small and simple acts are great things brought to pass."  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ban Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Insecticide use in a playground
     Neonicotinoids are the first new class of insecticides introduced in the last 50 years.  Developed in the 90's by Bayer they target the nervous system of their intended victim and their predominant use is systemically which means that the insecticide exists within rather than on the plant (Neonicotinoids).  To have a new insecticide approved a agrochemical company must produce studies (funded by themselves) that prove the general safety of the new product.  Most of the public are unaware that the government does no testing.  They rely on the testing that is produced by the corporation that stands to profit by the positive results.  In most cases the tests are short term and small scale and prove the intended objective of the corporation funding the testing.  Most North American and European politicians receive some funding from agrochemical companies and in the U.S their is a revolving door from these companies to top positions in the government (Governments and Agrochemical Companies).

Former Monsanto employees currently hold positions in US government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Supreme Court. These include:
Michael A. Friedman, MD, was Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Medical and Public Policy for Pharmacia, and later served as an FDA deputy commissioner.[222][223]
Linda J. Fisher was an assistant administrator at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before she was a vice president at Monsanto from 1995 to 2000. In 2001, Fisher became the deputy administrator of the EPA.[114]
Michael R. Taylor was an assistant to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner before he left to work for a law firm, one client of which was Monsanto. Taylor then became deputy commissioner of the FDA from 1991 to 1994, during which time the FDA approved rBST.[114] Anti-GM activists accused him of conflict of interest but a Federal investigation cleared him. Taylor was later re-appointed to the FDA in August 2009 by President Barack Obama.[224][225]
United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto in the 1970s. Thomas wrote the majority opinion in the 2001 Supreme Court decision J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.[226] which found that "newly developed plant breeds are patentable under the general utility patent laws of the United States."[114][226][227]
Public officials with indirect connections or who worked for Monsanto after leaving public office include:
Mickey Kantor served on Monsanto's board after serving in government as a trade representative.[114]
William D. Ruckelshaus served as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, was subsequently acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and then Deputy Attorney General of the United States. From 1983 to 1985, he returned as EPA administrator. After leaving government he joined the Board of Directors of Monsanto; he is currently retired from that board.[228]
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was chairman and chief executive officer of G. D. Searle & Company, which Monsanto purchased in 1985. Rumsfeld's stock and options in Searle were $12 million USD at the time of the transaction.

     Initially the neonicotinoid in the video below was given a conditional release and although further studies were required by law none were produced and the chemical use has become widespread.

     Due to the corruption that exists in the North American governments it is impossible to get any action taken against these toxic neonicotinoid insecticides.  However, the European governments are less corrupt and have responded to the public demand and restricted the use in many countries.  Right now the EU is deciding whether or not to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.  The proof that neonicotinoids are dangerous not only to bees but all living things is monumental (Killing BeesCanadian BeekeepersNeonicotinoids kill BeesInsecticides and BeesGE Corn ).
     This from Purdue University:
 Honeybee deaths linked to seed insecticide exposure

Multiple Routes of Pesticide Exposure
for Honeybees Living Near Agricultural Fields

Christian H. Krupke, Greg J. Hunt, Brian D. Eitzer, Gladys Andino, Krispn Given

Populations of honeybees and other pollinators have declined worldwide in recent years. A variety of stressors have been implicated as potential causes, including agricultural pesticides. Neonicotinoid insecticides, which are widely used and highly toxic to honeybees, have been found in previous analyses of honeybee pollen and comb material. However, the routes of exposure have remained largely undefined. We used LC/MS-MS to analyze samples of honeybees, pollen stored in the hive and several potential exposure routes associated with plantings of neonicotinoid treated maize. Our results demonstrate that bees are exposed to these compounds and several other agricultural pesticides in several ways throughout the foraging period. During spring, extremely high levels of clothianidin and thiamethoxam were found in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of treated maize seed. We also found neonicotinoids in the soil of each field we sampled, including unplanted fields. Plants visited by foraging bees (dandelions) growing near these fields were found to contain neonicotinoids as well. This indicates deposition of neonicotinoids on the flowers, uptake by the root system, or both. Dead bees collected near hive entrances during the spring sampling period were found to contain clothianidin as well, although whether exposure was oral (consuming pollen) or by contact (soil/planter dust) is unclear. We also detected the insecticide clothianidin in pollen collected by bees and stored in the hive. When maize plants in our field reached anthesis, maize pollen from treated seed was found to contain clothianidin and other pesticides; and honeybees in our study readily collected maize pollen. These findings clarify some of the mechanisms by which honeybees may be exposed to agricultural pesticides throughout the growing season. These results have implications for a wide range of large-scale annual cropping systems that utilize neonicotinoid seed treatments.

From  toxicologist Dr. Henk Tennekes

     "In this segment of The Organic View, host, June Stoyer speaks to esteemed toxicologist and author, Dr. Henk Tennekes, about his research and discuss this monumental devastation that will affect us on a global scale.  Dr. Henk Tennekes has been involved with cancer research for most of his career. His work regarding bees began after reading an official report to the Dutch Minister of Agriculture on the decline of bees. He was amazed at the lack of information on insecticides as a possible factor in the bee decline. Dr. Tennekes then began to research the impact of neonicotinoid insecticides such as imidacloprid and clothianidin. He discovered that they were identical to those of genotoxic carcinogens. These chemicals are not only affecting the honeybees but other species that are not closely monitored such as butterflies and other insects. He began to study the food habits of declining bird species and discovered that they depended on invertebrates. Dr. Tennekes is convinced that there is a link between the use of neonics and the decline of insects and birds. Some countries such as Germany have already banned the use of these chemicals. However, if these applications are not banned, there will be an impending environmental catastrophe that is irreversible."

     To see studies done on the effects of insecticides and bees go to our Beekeepers' Library.  To help Europe and it's bees go to Ban the Neonicotinoids and sign the petition to support the EU's decision to ban the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

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