The Buzz about Bee Rescue

15 04 2010

A local bee enjoys the apple blossoms on a Fuji tree we planted when my daughter was born in 2002

In the past couple of decades I’ve noticed an increase in language that points to the self as hero.  For instance, people no longer get a dog from the pound, they “rescue” that same dog.  I don’t want to be one of those people.  Our dog came from the pound, but we got her on a trip to Mendocino where the Humane Society had a adoption fair set up on a bluff overlooking the ocean.  Yes, we wanted a dog, but we were swept up in our own impulsiveness — the breeze, the sun, the sea air all conspired to make us see that we needed nothing more in that moment than to adopt a tiny 5 pound mutt puppy.  There were no thoughts of altruism, of rescuing her from the needle.  She was adorable and all but one of her other litter mates had already been spoken for.  Honestly, there was no chance that Hoover would have been there if we had even gone to lunch to think about it.  But, in the months and years after we got her, I would take her to various dog parks around where we live and other dog owners would puzzle over Hoover’s breed, thinking her to be a purebred of some sort.  I quickly learned that to say she was a mutt, or even to spiff it up and say she was a “mixed breed” was an instant conversation stopper.  We knew Hoover was 1/4 Chihuahua, at least part Labrador and the rest was, and always would be, a mystery.  Aside from lying, saying she was a “Mexican Rat Terrier” or a “Miniature Labrahua”, I realized the I had the option of saying that we had “rescued” her — and suddenly it was acceptable that she wasn’t a purebred.

I am wary of entering the realm of beekeeping for the similar reasons.  There is the suggestion that urban and suburban beekeepers might be the savior of the U.S. bee crisis.  Current thinking is that Colony Collapse Disorder may stem from pesticide build up in bee populations.  Larger bee populations tend to be kept in agricultural areas, where pesticides are most prevalent and where single crop fields can stretch on for miles.  Suburban and urban beekeepers also provide their bee populations with a greater variety of pollens just by way of the fact that parks, backyard, community and rooftop gardens are more diverse than commercial crop fields.  More small-scale beekeepers also offer the bee population more genetic diversity which may help to strengthen the overall U.S. bee population over time.  But this is not why I want to get bees.

Local honey has health benefits over commercially produced non-local varieties because it contains bits of pollen from the immediate area.  Micro-exposure to these pollens can help a person build immunity to a particular allergen.  Raw honey also has health benefits over commercially produced honey that has been heated in order to filter it and to keep it in a semi-liquid state.  Having my own bees, simply put, would just be cool.

My niece cradles Portia in the Sky Chair. While bees would be a little less cozy than chickens, the kids would still gain much from being a part of the beekeeping process.

We have a flattop roof, which would make a perfect place to store hive boxes, and our house is surrounded by vacant lots, greenhouses and is two blocks away from a nature preserve that, aside from the inevitable toxic runoff, is pesticide free.  There is just something to the thought of caring for a population and getting something tangible and wonderful in return.  And, I suppose, it would give me something to talk about at cocktail parties and school picnics.  “Yes, I have rescue bees.  I am doing my part to help with the U.S. bee crisis.”




3 responses

15 04 2010

As scary as bees seem to me on the surface (handling them, stings, maintenance, etc.)

This guy makes it look REALLY easy – he doesn’t even wear a suit to set up a new hive!

And here is a local-ish place to get the entire set up in Sebastopol. Is it too easy and too good to be true?

9 06 2010
Frank Farm

I recently ran across this and thought you might be interested:

9 06 2010

Frank, I love this! The only other beekeeping store I was aware of is all the way in Sebastapol! Until I get the hang of things, it’s very important to me to be able to look at and touch the things I am interested in. Once I know what the hell I am doing I can then go ahead and purchase things online. I can’t wait to pay them a visit! As always, you’re such a fantastic resource.

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