apiculture

City Bees Are All the Buzz!

I wanted to keep bees on a suburban lot in South Carolina, but it was "illegal" under the regulations of the homeowners' association -- which had all actually been written by the developer and turned over to the 'association' as a de facto constitution. I was already involved in a fight with the same developer about his desire to build two houses on a area of isolated wetlands that were preserved as a 'conservation easement', precisely because of his initial development -- but they had been preserved by the Army Corps of Engineers (ironically) in their (often misguided or malicious) efforts to manage the nation's waterways and this federal power to protect 'isolated wetlands' in such a way had been promptly repealed by the Bush administration... leading to a sort of development boom in the South Carolina Lowcountry, since much of the previously protected wetlands were now governed only by state regulations (and most states had no such regulations since the activity had been in the domain of the Corps of Engineers).

Anyway, it seemed a more important fight; to save that small boggy & impenetrable patch of swamp magnolias, pines, gums, and even invasive species (Bradford Pears, and Tree of Heaven especially, but also lots of lawn grass and garden plants), since neighbors used one corner (which had been "accidentally" razed) as a dumping area for yard waste. And so I saved the little "less than an acre", from the developer who wanted to sell two more homes in a neighborhood where we already lived on lots the size of postage stamps. And also saved it from the crowd in the homeowners association meetings who wanted a "pool and/or clubhouse" on the forested land. I saved it, and so I still heard birds singing, and woodpeckers pecking. And, I had lots of bees, birds, butterflies, lizards, and snakes, and worms, and mice, and moles, etc. (because they still had a bit of the wild from whence to come) and I received plenty of fines and threats for my suburban permaculture experiment (one "neighbor" actually climbed on his roof to see what was in the jungle behind my fence, instead of merely asking and enjoying the tour that I loved to give to anyone who would let me), that was quite a spectacle... but as for the honey, someone else was reaping that reward. And I felt I didn't have the energy for the hives, much less the fight that would ensue once the hives were discovered. The thought of hives gave me hives, heh, pun fun. Yet the idea came to me again, when considering an 'urban ecovillage' in Buenos Aires, and the prospects for hives in urban areas. It seemed to me that the tree-lined streets and gardens full of flowers and citruses would provide a comfortable habitat, and the bees would be as integral and natural addition as they were in my suburban garden. However, when my own (usually entirely supportive) wife looked at me as if concerned for my mental health after I suggested the idea of intentionally bringing entire hives of bees into an urban apartment tower, I knew that it would likely be as difficult of a battle here as anywhere. (Especially considering that she's a "mental health" advocate, who has done a great deal of work to get people OUT of mental institutions.)

Yet, a small collective of underground apiculturists in New York City are teaming up and forming a powerful lobby that has already succeeded in introducing legislation to overturn the city's ban on bee-keeping. They're showing that the idea is not only viable, but that it enriches the local environment (and economy) in more ways than most people seemed to anticipate. It's hardly just for the honey. Click on through to read this very interesting article that has everything from direct action anarchist apiculture to ecopsychology...  (continued...)

Honeybee Die-Off Threatens U.S. Food Supply

I've been meaning to post something about the widening crisis among apiculturists in some of the world's most important food exporting nations. For those who havent been paying attention; beekeepers are reporting massive mysterious dieoffs in their hives...hives totally abandoned, without even the bodies of dead bees, yet untouched by foragers, among other strange symptoms. It's been termed Colony Collapse Disorder and I havent read one article about it that isnt quite alarmist (and rightly so), but this article from the Associated Press stood out. Not only is it thoroughly "mainstream", it's probably the most apocalyptic of all the bee extinction articles I've seen. (continued...)

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