Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing

     Marla Spivak, entomology professor at the University of Minnesota discusses the challenges that bees are facing today and what we can do to help them.  In the United States since the end of World War II (l945) the number of bee colonies has decreased from 4.5 million to 2 million.  This coincides with the movement from the family farm to large corporate monoculture agroindustry.  The vast majority of food production today is done with large, monoculture farms that have replaced natural, nitrogen fixing, fertilizing cover crops like clover and alfalfa (bee food sources) with synthetic fertilizers; herbicides used on these farms have created a food desert where bees can't survive; and the increased use of pesticides and particularly the systemic neonicotinoids has created a situation where bees, the perfect environmental receptor (bodies covered with hair) are carrying back to the hive and depositing a mixture of toxic agrochemicals.  These factors along with mites, diseases and the mass transport of bees for pollination have created a difficult environment for the bees to survive.
     Marla  discusses possible solutions like the use of cover crops and hedgerows on farms, the reduction of agrochemicals and the planting of bee friendly plants.  She has developed a strain of bees, the Minnesota hygienic line which are able to detect infected larvae in the hive and remove them to cleanse the hive of the disease or parasite.  Work on increasing hygienic behaviour in bees is being done throughout the world and is a possible solution but requires the population domination of hygienic bees (both drones and queens) to be successful.  This is a long term prospect which most beekeepers are aware of and support.
     Locally, on September 27th at 8 p.m at Eternal Abundance (1025 Commercial Drive) there will be a screening of the documentary "Saving the Life Keepers - The new science of sustainable beekeeping". Watch the trailer:  "Saving the Life Keeper"   The master beekeeper Brian  Campbell and the film  director and producer Jocelyn Demers will be at  this event for a Q and  A.

March Against Monsanto


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