by Francisco G. Gómez
I just read an article about a bee keeper up in Canada that lost 37 million honey bees in a few short weeks, after GMO corn was planted not too far from his farm. That’s equivalent to about 600 bee hives.
ARTICLE: Colony Collapse Tied to Honeybees’ Immune Suppression. It’s been known for a while now that bees are dying at an alarming rate across the globe, and there are a number of reasons why this is happening. But, the one that really has me pensive is the use of pesticides and fungicides (ARTICLE: Colony Collapse Tied to Fungicides) by mega chemical corporations like Bayer and Syngenta. Bayer seems to be the culprit at fault for the demise of the 37 million honey bees up north. They are manufacturing neonicotinoids that are affecting bee biology in very negative ways. And, I have to say that it might well be that these very pesticides and fungicides, or similar ones, are also responsible for the death of an unprecedented number of bees here in Central New Jersey as well. Scientists that study bees have found that the use of pesticides, fungicides and other toxic chemicals affect the immune systems of the bee in a number of adverse ways. Please refer to the links above for an in depth explanation of bee immune diseases caused by these chemicals.
I had decided to start my own hives in 2013, but put it off while I learned a bit more about the intricate complexity of Apiculture during that year. It turns out that two of my neighbors were equally interested in caring for bees and decided to contact some bee people that were going around distributing hives to private homes in exchange for a high percentage of the honey that might be harvested. Following the trends of colony collapse globally, but specifically in the Central New Jersey area, my decision of waiting to start my own hives proved to be wise. Both of my neighbor’s hives failed. When I questioned them about what had happened, they informed me that they had found some dead bees in their hives at the end of the bee season, but that the bees might have swarmed. Of course that is one possibility. It seemed unlikely that both hives, that had been thriving independently of each other, should suffer the same fate. Then there was the question of pests like the Verroa mite which is wreaking havoc on bee populations, but there was no evidence of that either. I kept wondering what had happened hoping to prevent a similar situation when Raíces starts bee keeping on our own land this year.
Without really having reached any definitive answer as to the cause/s of the colony collapse of these hives as of yet, I do surmise that the bees that were in my neighborhood succumbed to chemical poisoning in their search for pollen and nectar. Bees travel distances of up to 5 miles in order to supply their hive. Central Jersey is still grossly polluted from decades of industrial waste having been dumped into the environment, and of course, the ongoing production of pesticides, fungicides and other toxic chemicals by the companies already mentioned, as well as, corporate chemical monsters like Monsanto.
For you people out there who may not know how important the honey bee is to the survival of humans on our little planet; understand this one crucial fact, that these incredibly magnificent little creatures pollinate a third of our food supply. That’s right, folks, a third! And you can bet that if these little guys are dying off in droves, then what about the other pollinators that also contribute to the production of our food resources? Monarch butterflies, for example, are on a decline as well! Last years count was down from 1 billion to 35 million. (ARTICLE: Monarch Butterfly Population Decline). What’s going on, you may ask; well once again, there are no definitive answers, but you can bet that it definitely has something to do with the environment.
Without knowing what the future has in store for us, or if we even have a chance of success at bee keeping, Raíces will undertake this new initiative in order to educate the public at large of the crucial role honey bees play in our fragile ecosystem. We are presently in the process of constructing our own Langstroth beehives and developing an educational program for people who are interested in learning about apiculture. So stay tuned if you believe you can lend a helping hand to this much needed endeavor by keeping your very own bees. Email us at www.raicesculturalcenter.org or call Fuyo at 908.227.5671 or Nicole at 732.236.7618 if you’re interested in starting your own hive. If we are to survive and heal our earth, then we must help the bees help us. We must mend the broken web of life that is now suffering because of our ignorance in understanding its intricacies. We hope you will join the healing process by beeing part of the change that is needed!