Saturday, 8 May 2010

Helping hand

Last Sunday's newspaper (The Oberserver) reported that US government's Agricultural Research shows honey colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter. This is a huge number of bees.

Over here in the UK things are not much better. A study by Reading University suggested that bee population in England has halved over the last 20 years, and we have experienced a much faster decline then the rest of Europe.

While we are still waiting for a definitive answers, from experts, to why this is happening, concern for honey bee population and the possible effects on agriculture is real enough. Like so many environmental issues many of us are aware of what is happening, but we are not clear what can be done to cure the problem. More worrying is that many more people are unaware of the true impact if bee population is allowed to decline continuously without redress.

In the last two years I and others have tried to get permission for an apiary down in our local allotment, so far, we experienced strong opposition from people for whatever reason is against the idea. One would have though vegetable growers would welcome a few hives near by, but not so at this particular location. Strange but true. Talk about short sightedness.

My own solution is to keep bees in my garden. Any honey production, as far as I am concern, is a plus. The only person I needed to get permission from is my wife who following our first season is now warming to the little darlings. My neighbours all turn out to be very amenable even the one who told me, the other day, that she is highly allergic to bee stings. I advised her to carry an anti-allergy EpiPen.

Last year I looked into top bar beekeeping, which according to its supporters help the bees by reducing the amount of stress (on the bees) induce by traditional bee hive management. We all know how stress can damage human health. I am very sympathetic to the top bar method and aim to have a top bar hive in the future.

Meanwhile may be we need a more radical approach in order to help the bees. Perhaps a bit of guerrilla beekeeping is needed. I am thinking that as bee swarm naturally ( to increase numbers) so why not place a few hive of bees in the wild and allow it to develop with the minimum, or no, interference. Of course in guerrilla beekeeping we are not aiming get any honey in return, but like other conservation work the point is to give nature an helping hand.

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