Saturday, May 29, 2010


Save the Bees! Grow Garden Plants Honey Bees Love
Bees and wild pollinators thrive on these garden plants.

Sami Grover

By Sami Grover | Fri May 29, 2009 16:08

bee hive

Chelsea Bay Wills

Animals | Gardening | Honey | Insects

Since the worrying discovery in 2006 of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious ailment causing entire colonies of honeybees to disappear, there's been a great deal of attention paid to supporting bees and other pollinators. After all, honeybees are responsible for pollinating over 100 commonly eaten fruit and vegetable crops—so we'd do well to be kind to these furry little helpers. Without bees our food system would be in serious trouble. Luckily, apart from taking up beekeeping (which isn't as hard as it sounds either!), one of the best things we can do is also one of the easiest—plant flowers.

The list of flowers that are 'best' for bees varies depending on where you look, and honestly it's probably best not to get too hung up on the 'top' species. After all—bees need variety in their diet as much as we do, and they need to eat throughout the year. So here's a list of plants that my bees seem to like. It's by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your own in the comments:
Honey Bee Friendly Garden Plants

* Rosemary
* Sage
* Mint
* Chives
* Oregano
* Marjoram
* Lavender
* Bee Balm
* Zinnia
* Sunflower
* Fennel
* Lamb's Ears


Meet Fenton Bailey, Producer of The Last Beekeeper

Rachel Cernansky

By Rachel Cernansky | Wed Sep 9, 2009 11:20

Fenton Bailey

Valerie Macon/WireImage/Getty Images

Animals | Endangered Species | Farmers Market | Honey | Insects

I recently had a chance to talk with Fenton Bailey, producer of The Last Beekeeper

The Last Beekeeper considers colony collapse disorder and follows the pilgrimage of the bees and beekeepers to the largest beekeeping event of the year--the mass pollination of California's almonds. Here's what the film's producer had to say about the documentary and the process of making it.

Planet Green: What surprised you the most while working on the film?
Fenton Bailey: What was surprising was just how connected one felt with the bees--because they are just insects, but like the beekeepers, it's amazing how quickly you sort of form this bond with them. You didn't expect that to happen.

They're very complicated creatures. They live in these socialized environments, and they have incredible communication systems, they look after each other. It's kind of breathtaking to see, and especially heartbreaking to see a bee that is sick or disoriented or dying.

PG: How did you get started working on a film about this issue?
FB: Stories started surfacing in the newspaper a few years ago about this massive die-off and I think it lept out at me because it was right around the time of An Inconvenient Truth: a lot of grassroots activity trying to get people more conscious about the planet and here amongst all that going on, was this singular story. And scientists are trying to figure out why the bees are dying, and to me, it was less about figuring out the problem and solving it, than it was about I suppose the poetry of the point we have come to as a society, and the kind of brilliance of our technology-based and consumer-based society.

We all lead aspirational and convenient lives on the one hand, but on the other hand, have all these less identified disadvantages and it felt that all that came together in the story of the bees. As we researched it, that became clearer to me, because there wasn't a single cause that could be solved with a single technological fix. It was an accumulation of problems. The bees are getting sick from multiple stresses placed upon them.

In a way, the problem is the life we make them lead and that was fascinating to me: a metaphor for where we are as a society, and actually the same kind of sickness that's affecting the bees is weirdly affecting us as humans--we are ridiculously stressed out, we are semi-poisoned by the food we eat, we aren't getting enough sleep, we are working too hard. In our drive to succeed, in our drive to compete, in our drive to accumulate, we are leading a life that's slightly out of balance. So it felt a very powerful illustration of something that's fundamentally wrong.

PG: Does that message come across in the film?
FB: World of Wonder is not a company known for its activist film-making. We say here's something that fascinates us, or here's a problem or a situation. So maybe people get that message from it, maybe they don't. I think it's hard to watch the film and not come away feeling a profound connection with the bees. And I think if that's all the film achieves, then it's succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, because that sense of who we are in relation to the world around us is very important, and I think a lack of that connection is still a huge problem.

PG: What can people do to help the bees?
FB: What you can do about it, if you want, is go and get a hive and stick it at the bottom of your garden--it's a bit like keeping a pet. The beekeepers that we met, they care passionately about their bees, they're not just some sort of industrial widget that they keep in boxes that make honey. They really love their bees and have this incredible connection.

It's funny to see a grown man, a tough, hardened grown man cry about his bees. It's very unexpected, and I don't think you need to take up the political cause necessarily, I think it's just incredibly fun to keep bees because they're incredibly rewarding things to keep, in the same way that people find having a dog very sustaining.

What's been very exciting to see is people taking up beekeeping and taking up the cause of the bees and trying to do something with the bees in a sort of grassroots way.

PG: That tough, hardened man you mentioned--what had gotten him so upset?
FB: His hives had just disappeared. He's a beekeeper so he makes his living and supports his wife and his kids from beekeeping, so you go out and look at your hives and 80 percent of them have disappeared, that's like a big oh-shit moment. And on the one hand, he can't put bread on his table, but on the other hand, in fact it's a tragedy--just as if anything you love and care about, if you woke up one morning and it was gone, you would have a huge sense of loss.

PG: The hives disappear that suddenly?
FB: It happens that suddenly, yeah. One minute they're there, and the next minute they're gone. It's the rapture of bees.

PG: What is the human role in the problem?
FB: The plight of the bees is entirely one created by humans, in that bees used to live in trees and they made their own hives and they flew around and it was great for them, they were happy about it. But a couple things have happened, we've basically industrialized bees and a number of pollinations, a number of fruits, like seedless fruits, you don't want bees cross-pollinating, you don't want bees just flying around, you want to control the pollination. Also, instead of just sitting around in their fields (and normally they hibernate during winter), what happens is they get put on the back of trucks, they get driven all over the country, then they get woken up and made to pollinate a whole bunch of almonds, then they get put back in their hives, put back on the truck, driven across country and made to pollinate a whole bunch of blueberries--rather than just being free, trying to fly around, do their thing, eat a bit of this, eat a bit of that, have a healthy mixed, balanced diet, have a bit of a rest. It's just like humans.

More on The Last Beekeeper and Beekeeping:
Meet Jeremy Simmons, Director of The Last Beekeeper
Green Your Yard, Part 2: Rethinking the Backyard
Save the Bees! Grow Garden Plants Honey Bees Love
Blogger Writes About Bee Colony Collapse Disorder in his Backyard

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Monday, March 16, 2009 Vancouver Island Quarantine

Capital Region Beekeepers Association

Representing beekeepers in the Greater Victoria area, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Vancouver Island Quarantine
If you want to start beekeeping on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands please remember that there is a quarantine on importing bees and used beekeeping equipment onto the Islands.

This is really, really important.

The Mainland has a number of diseases and pests that do not exist here. Even more importantly, they have some of the same things (varroa mite, for example) but in resistant forms. That is, the mites, the diseases are developing resistance to the treatments that are available. Those things are not resistant on the Island.

The key problems we have keeping bees are the direct result of someone breaking the quarantine. Take varroa as the example again. It arrived in the late 90s and has absolutely wreaked havoc. At a minimum, it has forced most beekeepers to medicate hives with products that cost money and that we have to manage carefully to keep out of the human food supply.

There are 10,000 bee colonies on the Island. Pretty much every one of them needs Apistan treatment and fumigillan, spring and summer. The Apistan alone must total over $120,000 annually. Because someone ignored the quarantine.

Stan Reist, the president of BCHPA, was at our club meeting on Wednesday last. He announced that three packages of bees from New Zealand had been burned in Vancouver that afternoon by the Ministry of Agriculture.

In addition, there is a beeyard on the Island which has stock imported last year from the Interior. Apparently, it was brought here by someone who got bees and used equipment, unaware that it was not safe and not legal. The beeyard is being monitored for European Foulbrood and will likely be destroyed as soon as it is established whether the bees are infected or not. Folks, this is really serious. We REALLY DON'T NEED ANY MORE DISEASES brought to the Island. And it is up to you.

There are good breeders on the Island. There are people who can safely and legally import queens. Buy from them.

The stock we have on the Island is well adapted to life here and they are a well of genetic diversity that we should be striving to maintain.

If you are looking for bees, only obtain them from here!
Posted by Heather and Dan at 9:43 PM
Labels: beekeeping

Thursday, May 20, 2010



Hemp as an assistance against bee dying? The substantial bee dying can be prevented by hemp, states the Swiss Association of Hemp Friends. Experts are sceptical -

Hemp makes bees HEALTHY - THE SWISS ASSOCIATION OF HEMP FRIENDS (VSHF) was established in 2009 in east Switzerland. It placed 24 honey bee colonies at Hanffeldern / fed them hemp syrup. The effect of the industrial hemp convinced VSHF board member Peter Brunner completely: Only 10% instead of up to 50% of the hemp bees died in the following winters, because the hemp works like an antibiotic.

The VSHF is convinced that owing to hemp much less bees would die. That hemp can help against the bee dying, Richard Wyss does not exclude this thought from the association German Swiss and Rätoromani bee friends. It is however sceptical. Bee researcher Jean Daniel Charrière of the research institute Agroscope Liebefeld Posieux. “A respectable, scientific proof that hemp helps against the bee dying, is still missing.” Agroscope will continue testing against the Varroa mite - and examine the effects of Hanföl.

20MINUTE EN LIGNE Chanvre comme aide contre la mort d'abeille ? La mort substantielle d'abeille peut être empêchée par le chanvre, énonce l'association suisse des amis de chanvre. Les experts sont sceptiques - Le chanvre rend des abeilles SAINES - L'ASSOCIATION SUISSE DES AMIS de CHANVRE (VSHF) a été établie en 2009 en Suisse est. Elle a placé 24 colonies d'abeille de miel chez Hanffeldern/leur a alimenté le sirop de chanvre. L'effet du chanvre industriel a convaincu le membre du conseil de VSHF Peter Brunner complètement : Seulement 10% au lieu jusqu'à de 50% des abeilles de chanvre est mort en hivers suivants, parce que le chanvre fonctionne comme un antibiotique. Le VSHF est convaincu que dû au chanvre beaucoup moins d'abeilles mourraient. Que le chanvre peut aider contre l'abeille mourant, Richard Wyss n'exclut pas cette pensée des amis d'association de Suisse allemand et de Rätoromani d'abeille. Il est cependant sceptique. Chercheur Jean Daniel Charrière d'abeille de l'institut de recherche Agroscope Liebefeld Posieux. « Une preuve respectable et scientifique que le chanvre aide contre l'abeille mourant, manque toujours. » Agroscope continuera d'examiner contre les acarides de Varroa - et examinera les effets de Hanföl.

Monday, May 17, 2010

French Beekeepers Warn of Losses Because of New Bayer Pesticide

BusinessWeek Logo
Monday May 17, 2010/

French Beekeepers Warn of Losses Because of New Bayer Pesticide
February 17, 2010, 1:22 PM EST
More From Businessweek
By Rudy Ruitenberg

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- France’s beekeepers union forecast “massive” losses of bees this spring as the country’s farmers apply Bayer CropScience AG’s insecticide Proteus for the first time after the product received French approval last year.

“We’re very concerned,” said Sophie Dugue, a professional beekeeper and a member of the National Union of French Apiculture, or UNAF, at a press conference in Paris today. “We’ll see massive poisoning starting this spring.”

France is the world’s third-largest market for crop- protection products after the U.S. and Brazil, with a value of 1.9 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in 2008, according to data from Bayer. The country approved Proteus in September.

Dugue said beekeepers are worried because the Bayer insecticide will be sprayed on rapeseed, whose yellow flowers attract bees, while other insecticides with similar chemicals have been used to coat seeds. France is the European Union’s second-biggest producer of the oilseed crop after Germany.

“We’re aware of the concern of the beekeepers,” said Gilles Delanoe, a spokesman for Bayer CropScience in France. “If the product is applied according to the instructions, using good practices, it doesn’t present a risk for the bees.”

Proteus accounts for less than 1 percent of Bayer CropScience’s sales in France, according to Delanoe.

France had about 1.25 million beehives in 2008, about half of them owned by professional beekeepers, and the economic value of bees’ role as pollinators in France is about 2 billion euros, UNAF said in documents handed out at the meeting.

Fighting Insects

Proteus is used to fight a “broad spectrum” of sucking and chewing insects and has been registered in more than 50 countries including the U.S. and Brazil, according to Bayer CropScience’s Web site.

The pesticide combines the ingredients deltamethrin and thiacloprid, a systemic neurotoxin in a chemical class called neonicotinoids that also include the active ingredients of Bayer’s Gaucho and Syngenta AG’s Cruiser insecticides.

“The problem with Proteus is the mix of products,” Henri Clement, the president of UNAF, told reporters. “Beekeepers have every reason to be worried about the approval of this product.”

According to the UNAF, Italy has banned all neonicotinoids dangerous to bees.

Cruiser’s active ingredient thiamethoxam doesn’t pose a risk to foraging bees or the survival of colonies when used according to label instructions, Syngenta spokesman Médard Schoenmaeckers said in an e-mailed comment.

“Syngenta supports thorough research on the causes of bee health problems,” Schoenmaeckers said. It monitors farmers “to ensure the safe use of thiametoxam by growers,” he said.

Health Problems

Bayer’s Gaucho causes health problems to bees despite a French ban on using the pesticide on corn and sunflowers, according to UNAF. Beekeepers are finding bees are poisoned by feeding on sunflowers and cover crops planted following a Gaucho-treated crop such as wheat, UNAF said.

“We need new substances that respond to the needs of farmers so they don’t have harvest losses,” Delanoe said. Bayer works “closely” with beekeepers in Germany and the U.K., “we regret that’s not the case for France,” he said.

--Editors: M. Shankar, Dan Weeks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at

Saturday, May 1, 2010

California's Man-Made Drought

By MONICA SHOWALTER Posted 04/28/2010 05:39 PM ET
as seen on: INVESTORS.COM

Along California's Highway 5, which cuts through the Central Valley, an orchard near Fresno lies dead for lack of water. A federal judge's order in COALINGA, Calif. — Would France rip out its storied vineyards? Would Juan Valdez scorch Colombia's coffee crop? Sri Lanka its black pepper harvest? China its tea?

COALINGA, Calif. — Would France rip out its storied vineyards? Would Juan Valdez scorch Colombia's coffee crop? Sri Lanka its black pepper harvest? China its tea?

With global markets won by nations specializing in doing what they do best, and with regional reputations important enough to drive some nations to protectionism, it's almost unthinkable.

But then there's California.

On a springtime drive through the Central Valley, it's hard not to notice how federal and state governments are hell-bent on destroying the state's top export — almonds — and everything else in the nation's most productive farmland.

Instead of pink blossoms and green shoots along Highway 5 in April, vast spans from Bakersfield to Fresno sit bone-dry. Brown grass, dead orchards and lifeless grapevine skeletons stretch for miles for lack of water. For every fallow field, there's a sign that farmers have placed alongside the highway: "No Water = No Food," "No Water = No Jobs," "Congress Created Dust Bowl."

Locals say it's been like this for two years now, as Congress and bureaucrats cite "drought," "global warming" and "endangered species" to deny water to this $37 billion breadbasket through arbitrary "environmental" quotas.

It started with a 2008 federal court order that stopped water flowing from northern tributaries on a supposed need to protect a small fish — the delta smelt — that was getting ground up in the turbines of pump stations that divert the water south. The court knew it was bad law, but Congress refused to exempt the fish from the Endangered Species Act and the diversion didn't help the fish.

After that, the water cutoff was blamed on "drought," though northern reservoirs are currently full. Now the cry is "save the salmon," a reference to water needs of the state's northern fisheries.

Whatever the excuse, 75% of the fresh water that has historically irrigated California is now being washed to the open sea. For farmers in the southwest part of the valley, last year's cutoff amounted to 90%.

"It's pretty hard to keep crops alive at 10%," says Jim Jasper, who runs a 62-year-old almond farm in Newman that employs 170. "That's one irrigation, and trees take 10 to 12 over the growing season from March to October." Almond trees cost $8,000 per acre and take six years to start producing, so farmers reserved their 10% allocation for mature trees first.

The cutoff didn't kill just trees, however. It also devastated the area's economy. Unemployment in some valley towns has shot up to 45%. Mortgage defaults are on the rise, and food lines are lengthening.