Clean Bees Are Happy Bees

9 comments May 20th, 2007at 09:12pm Posted by Eli

I guess this is less than surprising…

Sharon Labchuk is a longtime environmental activist and part-time organic beekeeper from Prince Edward Island. She has twice run for a seat in Ottawa’s House of Commons, making strong showings around 5% for Canada’s fledgling Green Party. She is also leader of the provincial wing of her party. In a widely circulated email, she wrote:

I’m on an organic beekeeping list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list. The problem with the big commercial guys is that they put pesticides in their hives to fumigate for varroa mites, and they feed antibiotics to the bees. They also haul the hives by truck all over the place to make more money with pollination services, which stresses the colonies.

Who should be surprised that the major media reports forget to tell us that the dying bees are actually hyper-bred varieties that we coax into a larger than normal body size? It sounds just like the beef industry. And, have we here a solution to the vanishing bee problem? Is it one that the CCD Working Group, or indeed, the scientific world at large, will support? Will media coverage affect government action in dealing with this issue?


We’ve been pushing them too hard, Dr. Peter Kevan, an associate professor of environmental biology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, told the CBC. And we’re starving them out by feeding them artificially and moving them great distances. Given the stress commercial bees are under, Kevan suggests CCD might be caused by parasitic mites, or long cold winters, or long wet springs, or pesticides, or genetically modified crops. Maybe it’s all of the above…

In other words, maybe we should just leave the poor bees the hell alone.

(Chain of hat tips: The Sideshow -> Emphyrio -> GroovyGreen)

Entry Filed under: Environment,Science


  • 1. spocko  |  May 21st, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Fraking lazy bees. I’ll bet that we could get some of those African Bees to do the same work for 1/2 the price. And if they don’t like it, tough. Now is the time to start outsourcing our pollination.

    Maybe China will pick up the slack.

  • 2. Eli  |  May 21st, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    I wonder if the bee outsourcing is better in Beejing or Mumbee (formerly Bombee).

    Seriously, though, it’s probably not a good idea to trash-talk the bees, as one of my posts this evening will make clear.

  • 3. spocko  |  May 21st, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I’m in a bad mode today. I was channeling a Republican beekeeper who listens to Hannity.

  • 4. Eyesore? I think not! &la&hellip  |  May 21st, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    […] UPDATED: Speaking of bees, Eli is completely down with the bee-portage, here and here. […]

  • 5. Interrobang  |  May 21st, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    I’m not so sure she’s right. I’ve read the original paper by the CCD working group, and they were talking to a variety of different sizes of apiaries, not just “big commercial” producers. Some of the beekeepers they surveyed were fumigating, some were not. I would suggest that just because within her select group of organic beekeepers that she knows about no one has reported cases of CCD, it’s not happening, as well.

    I’m also not sure the North American commercial beekeeping standard operating procedures translate worldwide, and there have certainly been enough cases outside of North America to make me very, very skeptical of what she has to say. I think this is a bigger, deeper problem than she seems to figure (for one thing, the CCD bees showed low to normal infestations by varroa mites, but multiple fungal and bacterial coinfections), and I don’t imagine there is a magic bullet answer.

    In short, I’m skeptical of these uncredentialed types who pop up every now and again claiming they have all the answers, or the answer, because they’re usually wrong.

    Here’s a link

  • 6. Interrobang  |  May 21st, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Damn, that last sentence in the first graf should read: “I would suggest that just because within her select group of organic beekeepers that she knows about no one has reported cases of CCD, doesn’t mean itís not happening, as well.”

  • 7. ellroon  |  May 21st, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    I’ve been collecting information on the Colony Collapse Disorder:

    Stress is one of many of the things being looked at. A 70% loss of commercial bees in the east coast of the U.S. should be a red alert to all of us. It is in Taiwan, Egypt, and Europe as well.

  • 8. Eli  |  May 22nd, 2007 at 7:24 am

    Well, she certainly could be wrong, but I’d like to know if someone is at least looking into whether there’s a difference between CCD incidences in organic bee colonies vs. the highly-manipulated ones.

  • 9. ellroon  |  May 22nd, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    No, you are right. There is a difference between natural bee hives being maintained by bee hobbyists and stressed out commercial bee hives filled with larger than normal mutated bees. It is only the commercial bees that seem to have CCD, although I’ve read only a few natural bee keeper posts to say that.

    It might even be melamine in their bee food (yes, commercial bee keepers do make bee food) because the recipes call for soy protein or flour (?) and that is on the FDA’s watch list of food from China.

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