How sweet they’ve been, the first days of Spring. Though March played with our sense of seasonal order, growling out like a temperamental lion, we harvested twenty pounds of honey this week; a sap of sweet, slow, amber translucence.
Our old school honey harvest meant using the slow drip method; letting gravity do its thing as open combs were warmed in front of the fire.
Our bees buzzed off sometime late in the season, so we feared the worst: That the honey stores had been plundered. But it seems our three Russian colonies swarmed like Cossacks, leaving empty hives and all of their hard-won honey. So we’ve ordered Italian bees and queens this year. After all, a hive of matriarchal Italians is surely going to center around the making of food. Buon appetito
It turns out beekeeping is as fraught with loss as anything else on the farm, the only constants seem to be the hives themselves. You don’t imagine a lot of neurotic bee keepers out there – one just can’t be type-A anxious and high-strung when working with all the unknowable quirks of the natural world. Hopeful resignation tends to reign. Bees have ideas of their own.
Newly-jarred honey, almost a gallon of it, glows on the window sill.
Because bees will travel far to find pollen, often beyond an organic oasis and up to seven miles from the hive, pesticides used on neighboring farms are a concern. For more than a decade, as bee populations around the globe have declined dramatically, pesticides have been thought to play a part in what’s become know as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Just last week, the New York Times
reported on the increasing scientific consensus that neonicotinoids
, or systemic pesticides that move through plant tissue and into their nectar and pollen, make bees more vulnerable to disease. These pesticides, rubber stamped by the influence-pedaled E.P.A, weaken the immune system of bees, mess with their sense of navigation, and stunt juvenile development.
A planet without bees is not just a planet without the miracle of honey: bees pollinate 30% of our fruit and vegetable crops. The imbalance will lead to increased consumption of petro-chemical grains and feed lot protein – already a scourge in our fast food nation.
If the vanishing bees are a warning, their decline may be prophetic. Monocultures made possible by corporate profiteers such as Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill will be all that’s left; acres of GMO produce dripping with lethal chemicals It’s no wonder we’ve been kicked out of the garden by higher powers.
Einstein wisely said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it,” and small organic farms are on a mission to change consciousness, one bee at a time. –Mb
Free range eggs from our flock of hardworking hens are available for pick up! They’re in the create by the front door. $3/Doz.
Tags: bees, hives, honey