To Bee Or Not To Bee?

While bees are tiny and often overlooked creatures, they are to thank for pollinating 50-80% of the food that we consume.  In the past few years, an estimated 42% of bees have disappeared and deceased due to Colony Collapse Disorder.  There is speculation about what causes this drastic epidemic within the bee population, but a very common theme running through the theories points to neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide used on the seeds of plants in large commercial farming operations and have been found to hinder the bee’s navigational system.

Lately, I have been combining my love for nature and natural processes with my passion for journalism.  I have been focusing on not only the ways that humans are hindering nature, but how we are also helping it.  Although this project is far from finished and I plan on working with four other beekeepers, including one located in New Zealand, this portion of the project focuses on the commercial aspect of beekeeping.

This commercial beekeeping business is very small scale (1,600 hives) compared to the large scale commercial bee keeping businesses which can contain over 15,000 hives and are constantly being transported across the country to pollinate different crops during different times of the year.  While the scale is much less extreme, the practices are by and large the same.

My plan is to follow commercial bee keepers during the process of transporting their bees to the almond orchards in Merced, California and get a taste of what a large scale operation looks like, and how it affects the bees.  California is the almond capital of the world, producing nearly 90% of the almonds that are exported across the globe.  Because of this, billions upon billions of bees are transported from all across the country to the Central Valley for almond blossom pollination.

I also plan on working with Eyes on Hives, an up-and-coming company who makes video cameras that track the activity of the hive in order to predict a queenless hive, a swarm, and the overall health of the hive, commercial organic bee keepers who have their own bees and do not transport them, and Maori bee keepers in New Zealand who produce Manuka honey, a world-wide delicacy only produced by bees who pollinate the tee tree plant.

My hope with this project is to educate the public about this epidemic that may seem minuscule to some, but is  in fact one of the most important and threatening epidemics that this Earth has encountered.  I hope that by comparing and contrasting the different methods of bee keeping and highlighting the importance of these tiny yet extraordinary creatures, that we as a whole can take positive steps to helping the Earth and coexisting happily and healthily with all aspects of nature.

If you’d like to learn more about Colony Collapse Disorder or natural ways to help the bee population, here are some links: