Monday, January 26, 2009

Link: Honey Laundering

More news from treadmill of production!

Friday, January 23, 2009

MacKenzie In the Garden With Bees

Last summer I wrote a bit about my cat MacKenzie who died under mysterious circumstances. MacKenzie, as some of you might remember, was my assistant beekeeper; he simply loved following me into Beelandia where he would sit with me and watch the bees' comings and goings. My partner Monta is now working a mosaic to memorialize Mackenzie. On her blog, you can follow this work in progress.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sen. Klobuchar uses Rushford honey at inauguration event

Click the title of this blog entry to read a story about some beekeepers in my neck of the woods.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bees and the Enduring Conflict, Part II

If the Treadmill of Production theory is correct, and if the treadmill economy is impacting the health of honeybees, than we are left to find solutions that are not in the current interests of any human being, whether rich or poor, whether an academic sociologist or a migratory beekeeper. All of us in growth economies have an interest in preserving that economy, which increasingly makes environmental withdrawals (e.g. resources, habitat) while increasing waste additions. We may delay the negatives, or ship these negative consequences off to developing countries, but ecological destruction globally will continue.

In a growth economy, social problems are dealt with by expanding the economic pie, rather than in cutting up the pieces more equally (redistribution). Expand the economy and you feed the poor. Expand the economy and you provide more jobs for the unemployed. Expand the economy so that scholarships are provided for education. Corporations can keep their profit with enough surplus so that no one is left out. (At least in theory and in rhetoric!) But increasing growth also means what I've said above-- increasing the amount of withdrawals from the ecosystem, and increasing the additions (i.e. waste) pumped back into it.

All of us might like to jump off the this treadmill but it isn't in our interests. My salary as an academic depends on the tuition of my students, endowments by generous donors, state and private aid to students, student loans, and research and teaching grants which all depend on the expansion of the economy. Migratory beekeepers find themselves stuck on the agribusiness treadmill and the realities of economic growth which, while no doubt negative for the health of the honeybee, is necessary for the economic survival of these relatively small family-run concerns. Hobby and Sideline beekeepers who use standard beekeeping equipment (whether natural beekeepers or their chemical-using brethren) are dependent on the success of commercial beekeepers on the treadmill, since the companies that provide them with equipment and bee packages primarily live off the purchases made by larger treadmill outfits. This demonstrates why pointing the finger at migratory beekeepers, and blaming them for honeybee decline is so unfair and almost hypocritical. If the treadmill of production theory is correct, the "enemy is all of us!."

The question, then, is it possible to stop or slow down the treadmill and what can we do, in the meantime, to save the honeybee? This calls for more than simply scientific/technological solutions, but to some type of social structural, cultural, economic and political changes that are well beyond any one of us to do and totally against our short-term interests.

Bees and the Enduring Conflict I

Schnaiberg and Gould argue that the conflict between the ecological environment and human society has always existed. Environmentally oriented individuals often romanticize pre-industrial societies and their "oneness" with nature. Schnaiberg and Gould state that pre-industrial societies simply didn't have the technological capacity to overcome the short term ecological limits the environment placed on them. (p24)These societies simply collapsed and disappeared (see the Mayans). Industrialism's technological capacities have allowed our growth economies to survive beyond the ecological limits in the short-term and there are many still who argue that it will be science/technology that will allow modern economies to grow still further without environmental degradation. Anyone who questions the desirably of growth economies is labelled as unrealistic or worse.

Now let's consider how bees fair on this growth treadmill, and whether much of the bees problems today might be the result of expecting bees to live beyond the ecological limits placed on them by the natural environment. Are we expecting the science/technology of present day entomology and apiculture to save this creature that is being pushed beyond its environmental parameters? Are we forgetting that our environmental problems are not simply scientific/technical problems with scientific/technical solutions but problems with a social structural, political, economic, and cultural foundation (p 146) as well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Video: Disturbing Video and Comments

This video and the comments it has received on youtube are rather disturbing and depressing, but it does demonstrate the need for more "bee" education, as well as, environmental/ecological awareness. The comments, mostly by what seems to be male posters, do seem to support the contentions of ecofeminism, however.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bees Ordered

I just placed my order with B and B Honey Farms for two three pound packages of bees for the spring. Thinking about spring with the bees just warms me up on this morning of below zero temperatures. 

Everyone might check out B and B's new website. They can't take  internet orders yet but they soon will be able to.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Winter Visit to Beelandia

I went out this morning to check on my two hives. It's been a pretty typical Minnesota winter so far with snow and freezing cold. I figured I needed to check the entrances of both hives to make sure they weren't blocked.

I swept the snow away from Bee Glad...'s lower entrance and took off the metal mouse guard so that I could  brush away any dead bees blocking it's holes. Everything seemed normal here but was pleasantly surprised about the warmth I felt at this entrance. (If it had been the top entrance I wouldn't have been all that surprised.) If this is any indication of how well the bees are doing, I am very happy.