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Posts Tagged ‘honey bee’

I’ve talked about my concerns about the future of honey bee populations here before, but the bees are in the news again this week, with reports of 31% of colonies not surviving this past winter.

This is bad. Really bad.

If you’re not familiar with what’s happening with honey bees, I highly recommend the links above. They’ll get you the basic idea of this problem, which is widespread (worldwide) and not getting better.

What can we do? Well, there’s not a lot of concrete knowledge, but there are a few tips floating around.

  • Support organic produce – one of the big red flags for a lot of these studies is the presence of neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide that is neuroactive. It’s probably not the ONLY thing affecting the bees, but purchasing produce that doesn’t use these chemicals helps, in a small way, to reduce their heavy and widespread use.
  • Keep your yard weedy – bees thrive on wild grasses and “weeds”, and a lot of farmland and yard land has done away with the native grasslands that bees need to get the nutrition they need to survive. Reducing pesticide and herbicide use in your yard not only directly helps keep bees from getting sick, it increases the variety of plants they can eat for survival. Cultural diversity in your yard may not look like a golf course, but it’s better for the environment for a ton of reasons.
  • Stop using commercial pesticides – just like commercial herbicides are bad for bees, pesticides directly affect them. Move in the direction of organic garden and yard care. It might be a bit more work, but it’s better for you, for the environment, for your local waterways, AND for the bees.
  • Plant a bee garden – it won’t look as manicured as a rose garden, but many varieties of plants are bee-friendly. Plant them in an area not near your walkways and home entrances (especially if someone in your house is allergic).  This is a good list to start from (there are lots to choose!) if you’re not sure what kinds of plants are bee attractors. Even if you can’t devote a whole garden to your honey bee friends, planting bee-friendly plants, especially native ones, is helpful!
  • Buy Local Honey – this helps keep local beekeepers in business. With so many hives dying out, apiarists are in high demand, and the more we support them, the better their chances of staying in business to help keep our food crops pollinated. If you’re not sure where to get local honey, or your grocer tends to only stock Big Name Brands that aren’t even guaranteed to be from the US, try asking at a farmer’s market or your local hardware store. I buy my honey by the quart at the hardware store, and it comes from about 20 miles from my house.
  • Support Groups that Support Bees – Not everyone on that list gets a true thumbs up from an environmental perspective, but there are several research groups there that accept donations and are actively working to further honey bee research.

It all seems like a drop in the bucket – and it is. There’s not much one individual can do in the face of a worldwide bee collapse that is likely being worsened by our commercial agriculture methods. But as with so many other things, every little bit helps. It is daunting, but I feel like it’s important to try anyway.

So have some honey in your tea, and enjoy your almonds, blueberries, melons, and fresh vegetables. But don’t forget the bees that make those things possible. The bees need our help.

If I find more information on how to help fund honeybee research, I will post it as well.

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I was working on my Ostara ritual last night and just not finding the connection I wanted. I’m going to be using the full SDF ritual this time, instead of trying to piece together my own (more Norse flavored) rite, and I just couldn’t find anything that seemed to be working, from any of the Kindreds, for the ties to the awakening of Spring that I wanted to bring to my offerings.

So I went outside to my gardens and tried to find inspiration there, and it sort of hit me all at once.

Honey bees.

We talk a lot about honoring specific deities in ritual, but it’s always seemed to me like we could do the same with any of the Kindreds (or with a Kindred as a whole, like we honor the Ancestors at Samhain). So while I will still honor Eostre and make offerings to Frey as his energy returns to the earth and brings forth the first plants that will later become his harvest, I am going to make a specific offering to honeybees.

First, because I like bees. I’ve always thought they are cute and fascinating, and I grew up in a family that frequently kept bees for honey and pollination.

Mostly, however, I’ll be making offerings because right now the bees are in trouble (this article is a good starting point if you’re unfamiliar). Whether it’s from a fungus, a virus, a combination of commercial pesticides, climate change, or some massive combination therein, honeybees are in decline, and that’s bad. They’re a crucial part of the food chain, as one of the major pollinators that we have for flowering plants to become the vegetables we eat.  There are a number of theories for what’s behind Colony Collapse Disorder – a phenomenon that has been sharply on the rise for the last decade, where honey bees leave their hive and just disappear, leaving behind a queen and ample storage space and honey. The answer could be any, or some combination of all, of the factors – but the final result is that bees are hurting, and our environment is threatened by the lack of bees. CCD, combined with the devastating effects of a particularly nasty mite that sucks the life out of the bees, is just bad news all around.

So as a response, I’ll be doing both honoring of honey bees as part of the Nature Spirits that are important to this holiday (especially in my area, where everything is blooming *sneezes*), I’ll be offering some of the blessing to them as well. I’ll also be making sure that my bee garden is up to date and planting some new bee-friendly plants to help attract them. My main offering will, of course, be mead, but I’ll also be offering local honey and some sweet smelling flowers from my garden.

It may not be a *historical* way to celebrate Ostara, but to my modern sensibilities, it only makes sense to combine my offerings with my intentions and actions to help the honey bees.

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