I had a rude awakening after reading a blog post written by another beekeeper. She had attended a conservationist meeting and discovered that their attitudes towards beekeepers are, shall we say…less than ideal.
I had always figured that honey bees are pollinators and that pollinators are good, right? When I learned the conservationist reasoning, it completely changed my view of beekeeping forever.
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The Two Worlds at odds
World of honey bees
My background is steeped in the world of honey bees. More specifically, I apprenticed for 15 years in the commercial beekeeping industry and am now going into my 18th year.
We maintained several hundred beehives spread out over 3-4 counties in South-Central Florida.
Occasionally we packed our hives on a semi truck and sent them out to California for almond pollination, fulfilling part of our ‘pollinator duties.’
Maintaining 30+ beehives per apiary was the norm, as was supplementing their feed using high fructose corn syrup.
And to battle the pests & disease that bees and beekeepers alike deal with, we used chemicals that would hopefully kill the pests rather than our bees.
It didn’t always go according to plan.
World of Native pollinators
Apparently, honey bees are not native to this continent. So theoretically, until the European settlement, there were no honey bees as we know them.
There were however, Native bees. Much fewer in number today than they once were, they compete with the available forage against the incredibly high numbers of managed honey bee hives.
Once I became aware of this, it made complete sense why current conservationists view beekeeping as a scourge in the land.
This is not because of ALL beekeepers. Hobby beekeepers struggle year to year with the few hives they have in their backyard.
No, the problem and the challenge that Native bees face today are the sheer numbers of bees maintained by commercial beekeepers. Commercial beekeepers in North America manage anywhere between 300-70,000 beehives.
The Solution: Why Bee Native exists
Commercial beekeeping: The Bad Wolf
Remember, I came from a beekeeping background of sticking as many beehives in one location as possible.
I gave no mind to the ecological balance involved. I now see the harmful role that commercial beekeeping practices are playing in our environment, communities, economy and in the health of our families.
That’s why I don’t do it anymore.
“Local Beekeepers needed!”
We need more local beekeepers managing a few hives well. This is part of the answer to increasing available forage for our Native Pollinators.
Having fewer hives not only lowers competition among pollinators, but it also encourages biological diversity; a staple in the survival of all things.
Imagine a higher quality jar of honey in every home: Chemical free, pesticide free, made in small batches, absent of high fructose corn syrup, harvested with sustainable methods and with all the health benefits still intact.
You can start by planting pollinator-friendly vegetable gardens and wildflowers. Stop cutting down the existing wildflowers and let them Bee!
Get back in touch with natural products and demand higher quality for you and your family. Support one another in all endeavors.
And until next time remember,
~Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!~
Jonathan Hargus/Keeper of fewer bees