Earth, Weeds, and Bees – All gifts to be cherished.

The month of April is a month to reconnect with our precious Earth.  This is the month of Earth Day and Arbor Day; days for true reflection on what we as individuals might do to make a difference.  While many of us are able to move in the right direction and find at least a little something that makes us feel a bit more connected there are some who are lost.  Lost in the waste that is all around us.  Perhaps to some it is too painful to acknowledge what we are all doing to the earth.

Few people give a moment’s thought to the millions of micro organisms that live in every spoonful of soil under our feet.  We just can’t see them in the soil so not the slightest thought of the life in that spoonful of soil.  If you have never really given it much thought then imagine that the life of each individual organism is just as important as each individual human being.  Now, if there are 500,000,000 micro organisms in a spoonful of soil, that is more than the population of the United States.  To destroy a spoonful of soil would then be not unlike destroying an entire country.  Remember for us the spoon is small but to the micro organism it is a whole world.  If you were a micro organism living in that spoonful of soil you would be surrounded with life.  There would be creatures of all sizes and shapes, living together, helping each other out; all working to make that spoonful of soil a better place.

As nature would have it these micro organisms in the soil are doing their part to make all that is above ground fit for life.  We often think of the relationship of the bees and the flowers but we rarely think of the relationship of the bees to the soil.  The connection is so much stronger than we think.  The health of all creatures above the soil depends on the creatures below the soil.  These soil organisms feed the plants that feed the bees and ultimately us.  There is an even stronger relationship between the soil and the plants than between us and the plants, because without these little soil workers we would have nothing to eat.  When the soil is sick so are all that use it.  The bees are sick and they are using the same soil that we are.  We need to stop putting chemicals on the soil period.

Let’s go back to the spoon.  How many of us standing on the lawn with a can of spray have the slightest idea what organisms are under our feet?  How many folks at the chemical company know what organisms are under our feet.  How many people have any idea what the overall lasting effect a blast of spray on your spoonful of soil will have?  That is why it is so important to let the weeds grow.  The weeds may feed the creatures in the spoon; we are connected to the earth and the weeds have their place with us here as well.  There are three weeds that we habitually spray on our lawns that deserve to be there; they are dandelions, clover, and plantains.  It is so easy to just let them go to seed then mow them with the grass.  It is beneficial to our pollinators in terms of nectar and pollen that we leave the weeds and not put any chemicals on the lawn.  What goes on the lawn goes in the soil, then into the plants, then into the bees.  And yes the chemicals that weaken the bees to disease are in our home products too.  If we aren’t 100 percent sure what we are killing we shouldn’t be spraying.  I’m 100 percent sure I won’t spray anything because I have no idea what any of those chemicals kill beyond the target and nontarget species listed so proudly on the can.

Blindfolds are for piñatas and pin the tail on the donkey, not spraying in the yard.  Feed the bees… give the soil life… let the weeds grow!

Systemic Pesticides Are Killing Bees! What Else Might They Be Killing?

Imidacloprid and Clothianidin are killing our honeybees and our governments know it.

This is not a new finding by any stretch of the imagination.  They have known for years and there is a really good chance that they knew all along.  I’m going to give you some sources so you can check this out yourselves.  But first I want to build a foundation for you to use as you research this for yourselves.

A systemic pesticide is a pesticide that by design gets in the plant and becomes part of the plant.  As part of a plant the pesticide is available to all parts of a plant including the roots, sap, stalks, leaves, blossoms, pollen, nectar, and the fruit.  It then kills the insects that feed on the plant.  It is important to note that many insects of many types that feed on any part of the plant can die; that is target insects and nontarget insects.  It is also important to note that the insects don’t need to die immediately as in fall on the back with the legs in the air dead.  They can die a very slow disoriented staggering around lost with more of a dementia sort of a death.

A certain level of independent thinking is truly necessary here.  The governments are hiding these facts from us.  The Giant Agrochemical Companies’ Public Relations Firms are constantly leading us off track.  They have an agenda and they know that they will be fine if they can just keep us in the dark.  They also know that we just want to believe that our food is safe so they just keep telling us everything is ok.  They want us to believe that the governmental regulatory agencies are looking out for us and most of us do.  We can’t fathom the idea that government could be so corrupt that they would actually allow us to eat toxic food but that is exactly what they are doing.

Let’s just think for a minute how we allow this to happen and do nothing.  First of all, we are at least somewhat content with our lives and seem to be happier knowing that our government is looking out for our best interest.  Secondly, we go through life in large part just doing our thing, chasing our various hobbies, watching TV, and doing the things we like to do.  Since that takes up so much of our time there is little time left to care about what is going on with our environment as a whole, our food and water supply, or the plight of any given non human species.  This makes the PR firms jobs much easier.  Most of us only need the slightest reassurance that everything is ok and we go on with our lives.

My favorite smoke screen perpetrated on us by the Giant Agrochemical Companies and their PR firms and Government hacks is the causes of CCD!  If this lie wasn’t so egregious it might be laughable, but they have managed to continue the hoax for 5 years know.  They have been very effective keeping the populace completely off balance and in suspense.  They use a few different tactics that we have all heard before.  Probably the most common one is, “it is a combination of factors such as, Varroa mites, tracheal mites, diarrhea, migratory beekeeping, loss of habitat, etc, bla, bla, bla.”; usually as a bit of an after though it will be mentioned that also pesticides may play a roll.  But if you make the obvious mistake of asking for more information on the pesticide link then you will hear that much more investigation needs to be done to prove any one culprit.  It is important to note that the bees do die from all those culprits but there is nothing new there as these problems are not new to bees.  The pesticides work to weaken the bees defenses against these pests and the pesticides are the common denominator period.  Another “string in the back of the neck” response is “scientists are working diligently to find the cause of CCD Colony Collapse Disorder.”  WOW!  They sure are wasting lots of time, money, and effort if they aren’t diligently trying to find out how to keep from killing bees with systemic chemicals.  I have no degree and I’ll answer that for free!  Stop using these systemic neonicotinoid chemicals that you know for a fact are killing the bees!

Beekeepers have been screaming at the top of their lungs that it is pesticides that are killing their bees for years now but you can only hear this from non mainstream media outlets.  One only needs to watch Vanishing of the Bees and listen to the interviews of top beekeepers in the field to see that they have known and have been trying to work with governmenst on this issue for a while now.  And speaking of the mainstream media, they know the truth as well but who pays their bills…?

If you have made it this far you may be asking yourself what can I do about it.  Well let me help you with that.  I feel that beekeepers should be spreading the word diligently to get the truth out there.  I do it all the time.  You don’t get through a personal conversation with David Wright without being told that systemic chemicals are killing our pollinators.  We are not just talking honeybees here but I’ll stay on track since honeybees are getting all the buzz.  If you are not a beekeeper then you could take a small space of time each day or even once a week to do a little homework on the topic of system pesticides.  Learn what they are and how they work.  What foods are they being used on in your area?  What foods are you eating that contain systemic pesticides?  Read studies from areas abroad on the topic to see what other scientist have to say.  Remember that scientists that speak out about this will be vilified and discredited so don’t be put off by the negative press directed at them, just read their work.  As you study these chemicals you will be pulled into the GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) issue, but that is ok since the 2 subjects are so interrelated.  You will see as you go along how they relate and why this topic is so important to you and your family.

This is not conspiracy theory stuff but the powers that be would have you believe that way.  No, this is real and it is happening right now; right in front of all of us.  I’ll direct you to some websites below to help you get started and then you can branch out from there.  The title above asks, “What else might they be killing”?  I don’t know but we need to find out.  These chemicals are being feed to us now and the time for action is now…please get involved now.

Here are a few links to get you started with learning the truth about what you are eating and what is killing our bees.

As I mentioned above, everyone should watch “Vanishing of the Bees”

Tom Theobald at the Boulder County Beekeepers’ Association website.   Read the articles on Tom’s Corner.

Recently published findings on Systemics killing honeybees.

A 5 minute video with the Bee Researchers themselves on Imidacloprid.

Here is a link to a great way to research Poison in our food.

If you did all the above then give yourself 5 gold stars!  Thanks for caring, now put that knowledge to use.

How to Start Beekeeping in 6 Easy Steps

      1. Get a couple of books on Beekeeping.  You have generally 3 choices of hives; the Langstroth type hive, top bar hives, and the Warre hive; we’ll talk about them in step 3.  I really think the Beekeeping for Dummies book works just fine for someone starting with a Langstroth hive.  For the top bar hives I recommend The Barefoot Beekeeper book because you can go to the Biobees website and get free plans to build your own hive and use The Barefoot Beekeeper book to operate it.  If you are interested in the Warre Hive then The Garden Hive Construction Guide is the best, most affordable solution to get you started with the Warre Hive. This book actually tells you how to build a beehive.  These hives are very easy to build but they are available readymade as well.

2. Find a mentor and/or join a club.  There is just no substitute for a good mentor; they can make the journey into beekeeping a very pleasant trip.  It is important to be up front with them if they are traditional beekeepers and you want to go the natural route.  While the concept may be out of step with their normal behavior they will at least find you amusing and try to help as they know how bees behave.  If you are building a Langstroth hive they will know exactly what to do.  If you are building a Kenya Top Bar Hive KTBH then they may be intrigued enough to help, again with a vast knowledge of bee behavior.  My traditional beekeeper mentor actually bought a KTBH full of bees from me and the last we spoke all is well and it has been 2 years now.  The mentor can also help with such things as providing some old brood comb to start your hives, setting up bait hives, retrieving swarms, doing cutouts, or may even provide you with a few frames of bees.  The later isn’t necessary if you get bees by any other method.

     3. Build or buy a hive.  Let’s look at hives briefly starting with the most common, the Langstroth.  This is the hive that is most often seen as you are out riding in the car and has been the hive of choice for over 100 years.  It is designed to be manipulated to suit the needs of the beekeeper.  The Langstroth hive is quite expensive when all is said and done but it is a onetime expense and the hives can last a very long time.  I would recommend the cypress hives in 8 frame format for longevity and ease of operation (lighter lifting).  I got my cypress hives from Simpson’s Bee Supply in Ohio.  The owner Carlton Simpson wanted me to use all mediums as that is what most folks request for the cypress.  But I wanted the standard 2 hive bodies and 2 medium supers as the basic hive.  I also added 4 shallow supers to use for honey.  You can still apply natural beekeeping methods to the Langstroth hive by avoiding some of the manipulations used by the traditional beekeepers.  I recommend you join the beekeepers forum at Beesource regardless of how you plan to keep bees as there are sections for the various types of beekeeping.  I am also a member of the Beemaster forum that you will find equally interesting.

The KTBH Kenya Top Bar Hive is a great way to start beekeeping because you can build a beehive hive yourself for under $50 and perhaps way under if you have suitable scrap available.  This is where you get the Build a KTBH plans for free from Biobees and get the accompanying book to guide you along.  But wait, it gets better…You can join the Natural Beekeepers Network a forum that supports the KTBH and have a tremendous resource available for gathering with like minded folks.  This is where I started.  Honestly, I like the KTBH better for backyard beekeeping.  Or if you just want to buy a top bar hive then here is a great deal on a KTBH

If the Warre hive meets your fancy then you should definitely check out The Garden Hive Construction Guide.

     4. Order bees or plan to bait bees.  You have several ways to get your first colony of bees.  I started with a cutout from a barn that the farmer wanted gone.  You can get a swarm from just about anywhere if you get on a swarm list.  You can order 2 or 3 pound packages or a 5 frame nucleus colony from bee suppliers but you should order early; like now.  If you are extra lucky your mentor may help set you up with a few frames of bees with some queen cells to get you started.  You can also set up bait hives to catch feral swarms by putting out smaller versions of your hives as the bait hives and get free honeybees.

5. Get supplies from wherever hives are sold.  There are a few beekeeping tools you will need to tend your bees safely.  You should have a veil, some gloves, a hive tool, and a smoker.  If you only want to buy one thing then that should be the veil as you don’t want to get stung in the eye.  The second thing I use is the hive tool, followed by the gloves but I very rarely use the smoker.

     6. Run your mouth to anyone and everyone that you are a new beekeeper.  Burn all your bridges and don’t look back.  You just go about telling friends and family that you are a new beekeeper and if they hear of any swarms then they need to give you a call.  Make up business cards on your computer and hand them out to anyone that will take one.  You want folks to think of you when they spot that swarm in the bush behind their house.  Just one swarm call or cutout and you are in business.  Lastly, If you made it all the way to this sentence without skipping ahead; I do believe you are already a beekeeper and you just didn’t know it yet.  So go forth, get some bees and be a good steward.  As always feel free to contact me if you need help.