By Jordan Laio, Hometalk
Domesticated honeybees have been in the news a lot in recent years because of their mysterious dwindling numbers due to colony collapse disorder. CCD seems to be caused by a cocktail of problems, from bee exposure to pesticides, to being fed insufficient food, to environmental stress, to pests like the varroa mite. These factors are exacerbated by a new virus/fungus combination which affects the bees’ already jeopardized immune systems.
Wild populations have also been suffering for lack of habitat due to urban sprawl. A large percentage of our fruit and vegetable crops in the United States depend on pollination from bees and they are a link in a long domino-chain of species interdependence. Some have dubbed the disappearing honeybees the proverbial canary in the mine.
In reaction, many individuals have taken it upon themselves to keep their own backyard bees, and to do it naturally in order to encourage robust health and disease resistance in their hives. These are pioneers in the world of beekeeping, often eschewing practices considered de rigueur in the beekeeping world, and their bees are thriving.
The organization at the forefront of this brave new world is the Los Angeles-based Backwards Beekeepers (beehuman.blogspot.com), founded by veteran beekeepers Kirk Anderson (whom his peers know as Kirkobeeo), Russell Bates and Amy Seidenwurm. I got the chance to speak with Ruth Askren, a member of Backwards Beekeepers and active beekeeper, in order to get advice on natural beekeeping in residential landscapes.
Next: How to Be a Backwards Beekeeper
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