Sunday, December 21, 2008

Social Apiculture: An Example

Is the BBKA too close to Bayer? from Gord Campbell on Vimeo

A few weeks ago I wrote an entry about what I've called, Social Apiculture. I said, "beekeeping can no longer be an activity strictly focused on hive management techniques and our bees' immediate foraging environment but demands we also stay alert to the larger global environment and the impacts of the political economy." After reading this entry a week later, it seemed a bit arrogant, as if I was proposing something new and original when there are countless beekeepers around the globe who are already practicing this. For this reason, I am sharing this video from a beekeeper, Phil Chandler, who has had a great influence on the way I am seeing the world of apiculture.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Lists

The semester ended yesterday, and now I have a short break in which I can consider my future bee projects. Here they are in tentative lists!

Things still to buy:
  • 1 metal hive entrance
  • 1 screen bottom board
  • 2 queen excluders
  • 2 bee escape boards
  • 1 top entrance shim
  • 30 shallow Pierco frames
  • 2 shallow boxes
  • 1 crush and drain bucket
  • 1 migratory cover
Things to construct (without Monta's help this will be impossible.):

  • 2 top bar hives
  • 1 Warre hive
  • 1 follower board to replace the one broke in Metpropolis.
Materials to read:

Materials to review:

Supplies for Beelandia:

  • white clover seed
  • bird's foot trefoil seed
  • sunflower seeds
  • borage
  • soy beans
  • alfalfa seeds
  • solar powered water pump for Lake No-Bee Gone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cold Snap

Last week I spent some time out in Beelandia examining both Metpropolis and Bee Glad... . The temperature was in the 40s, so I watched as bees took cleansing flights, carried out dead bees, and a few just fell to the ground to die. The bees are still alive and looking fairly well, though the few dozen or so bees (mostly drones) around Metpropolis freaked me out a bit.

Within 24 hours, the temperature fell 40 or so degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like -40 degrees. I suspect the bees are inside clustering to keep warm.

Video: Bee Harvest

Another video by Ecoversity. Are those turkies calling?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The "Acknowledged Knowledge" Series

I have been asked, along with two other beekeepers, to speak this April on my journey through beekeeping at Saint Mary's University as part of their Acknowledged Knowledge series. I will publish more information as the plans are "ironed out"

Video: Introduction to Top Bar Hives

I thought I'd share this video created by the people of Ecoversity.  This is a fine introduction for those exploring the possibility of keeping honey bees in a top bar hive.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Social Apiculture

A few weeks ago, another uncivil "discussion" "broke out" on Bee-L between a complex array of factions: Commercial vs. non-Commercial beekeepers, chemical vs. non-chemical beekeepers, mechanistic science types vs. holistic science types vs. tradition-based types. All seemed to speak passed each other, accept their own position uncritically, and failed to see the partial realities of their own positions. Again, I will do something that some might see as a bit arrogant, that is, weigh in, as a novice beekeeper (but trained social analyst) on how I see some of the issues.

I am convinced that many of those involved in this debate, on all sides of these issues, fail to really take serious the implications of the global socio-environmental changes that have occurred over the last few decades. The structural and ecological changes brought on by the global 'treadmill' of production may mean that present apicultural techniques, whether based on mechanistic experimental science or "old traditions", may not work, however you understand working. Mechanistic entomological studies that control for extraneous factors may neglect the synergistic effects of multivariate factors produced by a globalized local environment. Other beekeepers who call for more 'natural' approaches are asking us to use 'natural' techniques in a globalized environment that is no longer natural, whatever that means.

What all this is beginning to mean to me is that beekeeping can no longer be an activity strictly focused on hive management techniques and our bees' immediate foraging environment but demands we also stay alert to the larger global environment and the impacts of the political economy. The latter means taking a more activist role as well. Sustainable beekeeping means working toward a sustainable environment, creating political/economic structures where bee survival is more probable, whether the bees be managed by commercial, sideline or hobby beekeepers. But this approach calls on us not to see the political/economic status quo as neither inevitable, nor desirable. Can we create an agribusiness model that makes pesticide and herbicide use, as well as habitat destruction, less necessary? Can we create a global political economy in which economic growth and its negative externalities of unsustainable resource use and waste are not necessities? Can we modify Western culture's belief in 'human exceptionalism'? In sum, how do we manage bees sustainability while "managing" ourselves in an increasingly globalized 'unnatural' environment? The answer is not 'primitivism' but, in my view, an activism based on a critical social apicultural.