18 Jan 2012

Honey Bee Blues

Honeybee Blues tells the story of the worlds disappearing honeybees and the efforts of Australian scientist Dr Denis Anderson to save them from annihilation.

You can see the whole 52 minute documentary below (using the Flash plugin).

Main websites here and here.

Note (esp around minute 13, for example) that what we see demonstrated here are export beekeeping practices - not to be confused with backyard Natural Beekeeping. This is 'bees as business'.

The threat of Varroa Destructor aside, is this sort of treatment ethical or just another part of the continuing industrialisation and commodification of our agriculture? How does this affect the bees in the long term?

Some view the sending Australian bees to supplement dying commercial colonies in the US as unhelpful in the long term. Our bees are not resistant to the mite - as the beekeeper says, the are likely to be infected and die. By sending them over there, we are slowing (perhaps preventing) the process of the local US population of bees developing its own resistance through natural (genetic evolutionary) means. Of course this long term view does not meet the short term requirements of the bee-related pollination industry (of crops such as almonds) worth millions of dollars . . .

A great book on these various aspects of bees and commercial beekeeping is Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen. A must-read for anyone who wants to keep bees or is interested in a broader view of their plight.

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