This blog documents the story of the Bee Limerick Group and their quest to introduce honey bees back into the city centre of Limerick. Bee Limerick along with its partners are also involved in planting native Irish flowers, shrubs and trees to create a resilient urban ecology.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Why do our bees continue to thrive?

Bee keepers across Europe have continued to report high losses of their hives over the last three years. One report from England shows losses of up to 80% of commercial hives. With losse being attributed to everything from virulent bacterial infection that quickly spreads across hives to sustained poor weather that prevented honeybees from building up sufficient pollen and nectar stores. At the end of May 2012, the Swiss government reported that about half of the bee population had not survived the winter. The main blame of the decline (in this case) was thought to be the parasite Varroa Destructor.

With the continued collapse and loss of commercial hives, bee keepers have far less hives available for resale. With demand increasing all the time the price per hive increases too. This has led to natural hives being snatched from the wild to be sold on and put into slavery to create honey for bee keepers. A slavery method where the hive has less than 50% of survival.

With mounting external pressures on the bee, bee keepers are looking to blame everything but themselves for the honey bee collapse. Albet Einstein said ' Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results'. Isn't it time bee keepers looked to their own bee keeping methods and adjusted them accordingly to help bees survive instead of continually blaming external preasures? - if only for their own benefits of extracting honey. Natural bee keeping methods is one such approach.

The bigger picture here is the survival of the honey bee and in turn our own survival and well being. So the approach for honey bee conservation needs to mature and move beyond commercial bee keeping and their unsustainable methods. Wild bee hives need to be protected and conservation hives should be a national priority.

As August 2013 comes to a close - our experiment here at bee Limerick shows that if the bees are just left alone they will become resilient to external stresses and thrive regardless. Our bees have continued to support a resilient hive and have split many times over the last three years. I estimate our bees have split at least three times each year so from one hive alone we have created nine swarms of the native dark bee. We don't treat them with anything and just leave the to get on with doing what they do best - pollinate and make honey for themselves.

Bee conservation needs to mature beyond producing the next jar of honey.

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