Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Vanishing of the Bees

We found this poor bee shortly after discussions began. RIP, friend.
Since it was relevant to my interests, I sat down and watched The Vanishing of the Bees earlier today. (Note: you can watch it for free on Hulu, which is why I decided to link there.) It was both entertaining and enlightening. One might go so far as to call it a holistic take on the subject of Colony Collapse Disorder. They even interviewed a woman with a PhD that urged us to find balance with the feminine divine, and the author of The Shamanic Path of the Bee.*

Perhaps more importantly, however, they had footage revolving around France and their very similar problem, and discussions with those involved in the bee husbandry industry.

Rather than Electromagnetic pollution problems, the documentary (and the majority of those interviewed) saw the problem of bees dying as related to a cluster of problems, the two primary antagonists of which are:
- Monofarming.
- Pesticides, like those made by Bayer and Monsanto, which are rendered necessary by the act of monofarming. (It's kind've like a circle of bullshit, which propagates more bullshit.)

It turns out that in France, they had almost the same problem. After protests by those in the bee husbandry industry, the French banned the use of 'systemic' pesticides. Within a year, bees in areas where farmers used pesticides bounced back.

Here is some Skynews reporting on the French activities leading up to the ban:

More recently, the EU moved to ban those pesticides:

Incidentally, Forbes has also produced two articles on the matter. The first is an introductory challenge to Bayer to cease producing nicotinoid pesticides. The second has a toxicologist from Bayer attempting to rise to the challenge and being rebuffed.

One problem facing the United States and proper actions to make Bayer both accountable, and cease its activities is interferance by the EPA. The hilarious aspect pointed out by those in the American bee husbandry industry and the documentary is that the EPA does not actually perform tests regarding the pesticides itself, but rather allows the pesticide companies such as Bayer to produce their own tests. If this sounds eerily similar to the issues involving the FDA and BigPharma, it's probably because precise the same conflict of interest is occurring. The industry producing the problem is also being allowed to perform the tests that attest to the safety of their products (with little accountability for what they leave out, and no incentive to test for something not required by law) and then our own Government backs them up when problems start to arise.

Truly, I love being an American.

In any event, we are already a pesticide-free gardening home and I'm pretty much resolved to remain so. It makes the occasional parasite struggle more of a pain, but it's one of the things I can easily remain committed to. I'll also be looking into our city's laws regarding having a hive on one's property. New York passed legislation that allows for the raising of bees within the city limits, and if Sacramento doesn't have similar legislation on the books, it is something to look into promoting. VVF has been looking into DIY hive-making constructs, and we'll step things up as we learn more. It may take a year, but its something worth doing... Even if one is only limited to small scale things. We can always protest and piss of Bayer after we've looked into localized bee-shelters on our property.

Finally, the documentary never talks about what happens to the colonies after their collapse. The bee husbandry folks just talked about how the bees just... flew off. While initially discussing this subject, VVF recalled something that I thought illustrates pretty much what happened:
I'll never forget the day I saw that something had gone very, very wrong; I was walking to school, and something hit me in the head. It was a bee, fallen to the ground. Oh, that's unusual, I thought - a bee just falling down dead? And I didn't think anything of it...until it happened a second time. And then I saw more bees just falling out of the air as walked. By the time I was across the street from my station stop, the sidewalk was literally covered with dying, shivering bees. It really scared me. Then about a year later I started seeing the reports on hive death.”

I'll leave you with that.
PS. I totally found a Cretan coin with Zeus depicted on one side, and a bee on the other side. But I'll save that awesome shit for later.

* I'll be passing on reading it. On the other hand, I have ordered a copy of From the Bodies of the Gods: Psychoactive Plants and the Cult of the Dead by Earl Lee. I am already hearing very good things about it, too.

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