Sunday, August 21, 2011

bees, vanishing?

We went to a movie last night. Not often that the farmers leave together to enjoy an activity off farm at this time of year! Sponsored by Sonnewald Foods and York County Beekeepers Association, we watched the movie "The Vanishing of the Bees". The commercial growers first experienced entire bee hives disappearing, just vanishing, in the middle of the last decade.

As they examined the change in pesticide use and manufacturing, it became clear tha the newest type of herbicide/pesticide/fungicide were the causes. If the bees were moved to a spot where a recent application of these powerful poisons had occurred they lost their in the bees just did not return to the hives.

Beekeepers in France noticed the same thing, and the director of the department of agriculture there banned the use of the new, systemic and very powerful agricultural chemicals. And the bees went back to right. Beekeepers in the U.S. have testified before congress to have these chemicals, so vastly affecting the nervous system of the honeybee, restricted. But no avail. These chemicals continue to be used on the subsidized by the federal government, big ag producers of corn, soy, wheat, sorghum fields. The beekeepers have learned to keep their bees away from these fields.

We grow animals on grass for these reasons. It just seems like a good idea to raise them on what they were put on this earth to do: forage. Our grass fed beef is delicious, tender and smells wonderful. Our pasture raised pork is great, our chickens, turkeys and eggs are wonderful too. We feed the poultry a small ration of GMO free feed..gone in less than 10 minutes in the morning, the rest of the day is spent scratching in the dirt, chomping on grass, eating worms and bugs.

The majority of the genetically modified, able to withstand the application of powerful chemicals because the genes have been spliced/altered to do so corn, wheat, soy and sorghum goes to animal feed. Or to the production of food that is processed and that the doctors say is not so good for you.

We have opted out of this big ag supported food system. Consider a pasture raised, rotational graized source for your meats. Look for a local farmer, learn one recipe that puts your meat and vegetables into one pot, all day, and then eat for several days. Get a different cut or type of meat and try another. It is amazing what these small things can do to make a big difference for all of us, including the tiny, sensitive bees.

The toughest thing for us to watch was the comparison of bees visiting sunflowers. We grow about 15 varieties here on the farm, and love them. We do only grow the older, closer to native type and never the hybrid, and certainly never any treated seed. In the movie, they had footage of bees on treated sunflowers losing their way, unable to systematically cross the face of the sunflower to gather nectar and pollen, eventually falling to the ground dead. What?! Sunflowers are the easiest thing to grow, why would they need to be treated?! The damage to the bess was just heartbreaking to fledgling beekeepers like us, who every day see how organized and thoughtfull bees are as they work the flowers on all the plants growing here. It does make me wonder what the compound effect of these chemicals is having on our is currently unknown, but scientists and doctors have suspisions that these powerful chemicals are linked to a variety of new disorders in children. We will continue to grow as we do here, hand picking bugs off our vegetables and fruits, rotational grazing our livestock, enjoying the bees and honey, and providing food as clean as we can grow it for families in this area.

and here are our bees, this morning, along with our sunflowers:

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