Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Humbled Pt. 2

Luckily for now, there are only 2 installments of "Humbled".
2 is enough for now. LOTS of comments...I love everyone's thoughts!

I should do an audio interview with my sister for the site,
because I think it would give some more voice and the whole
sibling thing would at least be pretty entertaining.

So this one is about BEES. At the moment, I am
a complete WANNA-BEE. There is just so much to learn,
but as a new beekeeping friend of mine told us this Saturday:

"Beekeeping isn't all that complicated. The bees know what to do.
People say that raising children is complicated too, but if
you keep the top part full of food and the bottom part dry,
its likely that youll be alright. Beekeeping is like that."

When raw/organic enthusiasts go into a new venture,
its easy to project our viewpoints into it.
I really did this with beekeeping.
I really vilified beekeepers...thinking that they poisoned
their bees with corn syrup and pesticides.

Im not sure what I think now. I am definitely against
the pesticides, but the feeding issue has challenged
my previous beliefs. Even talking to organic bee farmers,
I learned that bees thrive on sugar syrup, and have been
thriving on that mixture for hundreds of years.

Many organic people think Colony Collapse Disorder
is from a poor diet and harsh conditions, but these
bees have been under this routine for a very long time,
and bees reproduce every 6 weeks or so. And many bees
will be affected when they arent eating corn syrup or anything
unnatural, it will happen to them when they are feeding on nectar.

So what is new? What is the cause of CCD?
One theory we heard was that its from global trading.
Pests and fungi that are not from the US, or anything close to local areas,
are being accidentally imported from foreign lands at a rate
never before seen. These imports could be infesting the combs
and causing CCD. They are all pretty positive that its not because of their diet.

I was convinced it was diet and poor treatment. I have
to take that accusation back. Maybe their immune systems are
weaker, but organic bees ARE suffering as well...but not as much.
Although remember...there are many less organic beekeepers than commercial.

Another thing they told me was that when we try and raise
bees naturally, the colony will usually perish within
3 years. That is the natural life-cycle of a hive.
So, do they let the bees naturally die, or do they
treat them with something to keep the colony alive
and productive? What to decide?

Do you hail the organic religion above all else
and let the colony naturally expire, or do you treat them?
Would you treat your dog if it was sick? Your child?

The life-cycle of an individual bee is very short,
so you have to view the hive itself as a living organism
and do what you can to keep it alive. So many questions.

We found out two really cool facts at the beekeeping workshop as well.

#1. All worker bees, i.e. the bees that actually contribute something positively
to the well-being and continuation of the colony, are FEMALES.

#2. Only about 100 males (named drones) are produced in each laying,
and their only purpose is to mate with a queen from another colony.
When winter comes, the freeloaders (the males) are kicked out of the hive.

I told my mom this, and she said: "Well...are you surprised? Of course they are females!"

So...you get the point...we can't jump to such drastic conclusions...
the world, let alone the universe, is a VERY complex place.



raw by default said...

That's a tricky question, and I don't know enough about bees to answer properly. My instinct, though, would be to let the life cycle run its course. It sounds more natural... but it also sounds like it could be more expensive.

Raw Bliss said...

I love your blog! & since I'm obsessed with bees, my mind has been reeling!

If you can get your hands on a copy of The Hive : The Story of the Honeybee and Us by Bee Wilson, I'd highly recommend reading it! I didn't read all of it, but what I found out while reading it is that the drones naturally die after mating with (a)the queen.

Of course, if your bees are sick or something is destroying the hives and they aren't dying because it is just their end of the life cycle, then something needs to be done! I'm not a beekeeper by any means(but I would like to try someday!), but when you transport something like bees and they feed on only one crop for an entire season, is that really healthy? That's not natural! Also, because plants change due to their surrounding factors, it could be that the plants are just not producing the nutrients that the bees need. Who knows? Until it's really scrutinized over quite a few years(every last thing-the plants they feed on, the current environment, the bees themselves, etc), I don't think we'll really know.

I'm interested to hear how your bee keeping adventures will unfold!


Bella said...

Hmmm. Thanks for putting these musings out. I'm thinking about getting bees at some point, and know some people who are in the process of getting some now, so I look forward to seeing what we all collectively learn along the way.

I think one thing to remember is that being conscientious involves acting while never having all of the answers... because we never do have ALL of the answers and never will, most likely. So it means being gentle and aware while always trying to learn more and more along the way so that our actions will be increasingly loving and caring. Acknowledging that we don't have all of the answers seems to me to be one of the most generous and gracious ways of interacting and existing.

Hope you're coming 'round from the verbal smackdown your sister gave you!


yardsnacker said...

Anthony, I just watched a 20/20 show 2 weeks ago that talked about CCD. They eluded to a pesticide used here in the US, but banned in Europe. Beekeepers in Europe demanded that it be banned and it was! Somehow the residue gets into the bees and throws off their internal directions and they just get lost.
I wonder why there isn't more info on this subject! Mites indeed!

Hugh said...

Hmm... would you keep your cattle alive longer? Are Bees like cattle in the 'scheme' of things? For you child you would but, apart from the Queen, could you name a single Bee? The relationship is far removed.

Sanne said...

Thank you for writing so muh about beekeeping. It's really helpful to read your words as a beginner, then maybe I don't have to rely so much on trial and error when I get my bees at my bio-house.

Keep up the good work.


wyldegirl said...

i've been doing some bee research as well and found out so much information. . . bees are incredible and without them, we would pretty much cease to exist- or at least eat, which=existing!
i'm all set with the brave new world sort of meals in a pill style of living.

i found that out about the females too. . . and every woman that has heard it pretty much has the same unastounded reaction. funny!
i'm crunching on the fruits of their labour now. . . local bee pollen from an organic source. . .
x Jenny

Leira said...

First of all,
I'm a big fan of your blog. It's awesome.

Second of all,
I thought you lived in an apartment. If that's true, how (and where) are you raising bees?

Anonymous said...

Great posts recently. LOVE the realism and honesty!! :)

In regards to "organic religion" and the question, would you treat your dog or child if they were sick?

I had to deal with this situation last year as my dog was dying. I changed her diet, put her on powerful herbal antibiotics and administered palliative care, but ultimately she, of course, died anyway. It is the fate of all of us, to shed our bodies one day.

So the question isn't how to keep one colony of bees and each of us individually (and my woofie) alive forever.
Instead, a better question is how can we live fully and do our best everyday.
I believe part of that is accepting change
and adapting
and growing
and applying all that we learn.

I have two friends in NC that are beekeepers and hives swarm and sometimes they are able to recapture them. Some years the flowers are early or late, abundant or scarce. There are always adjustments to make.

A life with bees is an intricate dance. Gardening is the same way. That is why gardeners and beekeepers are such happy longlived people, because the practices teach you adaptation, presence and joy in the midst of change.
Don't worry, you'll figure it out and you'll do great. You are already there with your open heart and honest approach.

Timmizzy said...

Yeah, I talked with a local bee keeper, and he says he doesn't spray much, but leaves little pellet like things at the bottom of the colony. This helps kill off any mites that can come and take over the colony. Also, he never sprays the honey, and cold-processeds it.

Becca said...

Ah, I know you're talking about bees, which is great, but I just want to give you a hi-five for the humble-factor. One thing that turns me off about SOME raw food peeps (those in the limelight get a lot of attention) is righteousness...and you do a really good job of staying real. I REALLY appreciate that. I take that in, because it's hard to be humbled and say "sorry I was wrong" and you do it anyway. And I feel more confident admitting I'm wrong too sometimes. Thank you. It's inspiring.

Isle Dance said...

I definitely support the organic/natural lifecycle. If we put toxins out there to alter this, we create and continue a toxic cycle.

Bueller said...

Great thoughts as of late Anthony! Loving it.

I got tagged too.

I'll answer if you do!


Anonymous said...

I read once in your blog that you used to make delicious raw pizza and loved every piece of it. I really crave pizza now, and would like to make a raw one, but a book of raw recipes I have has a really hard one (I can't even find the ingredients for it). Would you please share your favorite recipe?
Thanks in advance,

Priss said...

Hello Anthony,
Your blog has been part of my inspiration to eat raw food and to blog about it.


Ola said...

hi anthony! i thought you might enjoy this trailer to a documentary film about young farmers (they're not vegan or raw, but grow quality produce)



Tanja said...

Hey anthony!

Do a search on biodynamic beekeeping and check out this page: http://www.mygarden.me.uk/ModifiedAbbeWarreHive.htm#DownloadBeekeepingForAllbyAbb%E9Warr%E9
If you scroll down to the link list you'll find a lot of useful info on holistic beekeeping, how to build hives that mimic natural hives, how and why to feed them honey in stead of sugar and lots more. But definitely look into biodynamic bees (and gardening). It's all about causing the bees minimal stress by working with them on specific days and how to treat them with herbal teas to boost their natural defences etc.
Good luck with it:)

Anonymous said...

i just stay away from honey all together! :) agave syrup is best..