Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW

Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW
Click on this photo for a video of "Evening in Honor of the Sacred Honey Bee". Photo by Daniel Bahmani

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

honey bees on my apple tree: Northern California

I don't have a great camera, but managed to capture a few honey bees this morning...

Poem for a spring morning: Tell the Bees, by Sarah Lindsay

Tell the bees. They require news of the house;
they must know, lest they sicken
from the gap between their ignorance and our grief.
Speak in a whisper. Tie a black swatch
to a stick and attach the stick to their hive.
From the fortress of casseroles and desserts
built in the kitchen these past few weeks
as though hunger were the enemy, remove
a slice of cake and lay it where they can
slowly draw it in, making a mournful sound.

And tell the fly that has knocked on the window all day.
Tell the redbird that rammed the glass from outside
and stands too dazed to go. Tell the grass,
though it's already guessed, and the ground clenched in furrows;
tell the water you spill on the ground,
then all the water will know.
And the last shrunken pearl of snow in its hiding place.

Tell the blighted elms, and the young oaks we plant instead.
The water bug, while it scribbles
a hundred lines that dissolve behind it.
The lichen, while it etches deeper
its single rune. The boulders, letting their fissures widen,
the pebbles, which have no more to lose,
the hills—they will be slightly smaller, as always,

when the bees fly out tomorrow to look for sweetness
and find their way
because nothing else has changed.

- Sarah Lindsay

Virgil: Georgics Book IV Bee-Keeping (Apiculture) Written 29 B.C.E.

A link to the entire translation is :

Here is the introduction:

BkIV:1-7 Introduction

Next I’ll speak about the celestial gift of honey from the air.

Maecenas, give this section too your regard.

I’ll tell you in proper sequence about the greatest spectacle

of the slightest things, and of brave generals,

and a whole nation’s customs and efforts, tribes and battles.

Labour, over little: but no little glory, if favourable powers

allow, and Apollo listens to my prayer.

"Nicotine Bees" Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban

by Roberta Cruger, Los Angeles on 05.15.10
Science & Technology
Following France and Germany, last year the Italian Agriculture Ministry suspended the use of a class of pesticides, nicotine-based neonicotinoids, as a "precautionary measure." The compelling results - restored bee populations - prompted the government to uphold the ban. Yesterday, copies of the film 'Nicotine Bees' were delivered to the US Congress explaining the pesticide's connection to Colony Collapse Disorder. Despite the evidence, why does CCD remain a 'mystery' in the US?

(It's not my favorite music, but here's the trailer for "Nicotine Bees", and I know it has good information in it--"Bee Urania")

Nicotinyl pesticides, containing clothianidin, thiametoxam and imidacloprid, used to coat plant seeds, are released into the lymph as a permanent insecticide inside the plant. But after just sucking dew from maize leaves that absorbed neonicotinoids, disoriented bees can't find their way to the apiary. Massive numbers of bees get lost and die.

In 2009, Italy's neonicotinoid-free corn sowing resulted in no cases of widespread bee mortality in apiaries around the crops. This had not happened since 1999. The European Research Center, Youris, reported that Moreno Greatti, from the University of Udine stated, "Bee hives have not suffered depopulation and mortality coinciding with maize sowing this year. Beekeepers from Northern Italy and all over the country are unanimous in recognizing that the suspension of neonicotinoid- and fipronil-coated maize seeds."

Although varroasis (infections from mites) and other pathologies are found at other times of the year, suspending neurotoxic insecticides improved the situation significantly. Francesco Panella, President of the Italian Association of Beekepers, says: "On behalf of beegrowers working in a countryside dominated by maize crops, I wrote to the Minister of Agriculture to confirm the great news, for once: thanks to the suspension of the bee-killing seed coating, the hives in the Po Valley are flourishing again."

Not true in Southern Italy, where bee mortality was high in citrus groves, which were sprayed with neonicotinoids, also used in vineyards and other crops. The new law has been challenged by the agrochemical industry but the Italian government upheld the ban.

Want to eat?

With pollination responsible for one-third of our food supply, the loss of 30% of our bee population prompted the Pollinator Protection Campaign by the Sierra Club. It bought 333 copies of Nicotine Bees which were delivered to Congress on May 13 and 14, along with 50 more from the filmmakers, with a letter from the National Honey Bee Advisory Board. The American Beekeeping Federation and American Honey Producers Association are asking Congress to stop the threats from systemic pesticides to food supplies, honeybees and pollinators. Send a copy to the other 152 members of Congress by contacting the Sierra Club's bee campaign.

The bees steep decline in 2005 and 2006 was catastrophic around the world. In the UK bee numbers have been halved over 20 years, with reasons including the pesticide and warmer winters due to climate change. Honeybee pollinated fruit trees and crops in Britain amount to £165m annually, so a campaign to grow bees in city gardens and roofs has been an attempt to halt decline.

Despite the scientific data, reports still claim the reason for the bee crisis is unclear, even blaming cell phones. So what's really holding up the banning of neonicotinoids? As a beekeeper in the documentary says, "A fifth grader can figure this out."

More on Colony Collapse Disorder:
Green Eyes On: Is Bees' Thirst Leading to Their Demise?
Bees Equiped With Microchips Help Explain Hive Declines
Bees Rejoice: One Potential Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Press Release: BAYER Shareholder Meeting on April 29 in Cologne, Germany: Coalition Introduces Countermotions on Hazardous Drugs, Accidents in BAYER Plants, Bee-Killing Pesticides

From: Berkeley Daily Planet
From the Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)
Tuesday March 29, 2011
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The Coalition against BAYER Dangers has introduced countermotions to BAYER´s Annual Shareholder Meeting on April 29. Environmental and social justice organizations [have asked to] discuss the proposals within the meeting. About 4,000 shareholders are expected to attend.

Beekeepers from all over Germany will conduct a rally at the entrance of the Cologne Fair to protest against BAYER´s bee-killing pesticides clothianidin and imidacloprid. Additional topics of the protests will be deformities caused by the hormone pregnancy test Primodos, accidents in BAYER plants, union busting and layoffs, side effects of the birth control pill Yaz, BAYER´s advocacy for nuclear power and the contamination of conventional rice by genetically modified strains.

The Coalition against Bayer-Dangers has been monitoring BAYER for more than 30 years. The company has published the countermotions on their website: (“Download”).

Film Review: Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday March 29, 2011
Queen of the Sun is hardly the first documentary about the world’s vanishing honeybees but it may well be the best. We’ve already seen The Vanishing of the Bees (narrated by Ellen Page) and Kevin Hansen’s Nicotine Bees, but Taggart Siegel’s Queen is the first Bee-Movie that has the potential to reach a mainstream audience with an essential “tipping-point” message.

Let’s hope there is still enough time left to make a difference.

The visually gorgeous and well-scoredQueen has at least two things the other B-movies lacked: (1) an opening sequence that features a young, half-naked woman dancing outdoors, covered in bees. (2) French beekeeper Yvon Achard, who professes his “love for the queen” as he lovingly brushes his bushy moustache over a frame covered with bees and proclaims, “They love it!”

Bees have been in decline for generations but the underlying problem has been disguised — year after year — by a number of unsustainable, short-term techno-fixes — such as flying cargo planes filled with “healthy” bees halfway around the world from Australia to pollinate crops in the US. (This practice of “migratory bee-shipping” also spreads exotic diseases that wind up killing bees when they mix in the fields.)

Back in 1923, scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner observed what was happening in fields of his Austrian homeland and correctly predicted the honeybee’s global tailspin in 80 years. It was in 2005-2006 that “colony collapse disorder” (CCD) swept through a dozen countries around the world, leaving hives mysteriously empty.

Without pollinators, of course, Earth’s flowers, fruits, and vegetables will not bear the harvests that help protect humanity from starvation. (And the planet’s birds would die off, too.) In the US alone, we have lost an estimated 50 million colonies. As one of the film’s beekeepers notes, without bees “all we’d have to eat would be bread and oatmeal… and a couple of nuts.” Or, as the filmmakers put it: “Bees are the engines that keep the Earth in bloom.”

Queen of the Sun enumerates all the problems that have been identified as contributing to the vanishing of the bees — climate change, pesticides, habitat loss, and industrial agriculture’s dependence on chemical-intensive mono-cropping — but goes beyond the complaints to spotlight the alternatives that are already proving effective in the all-important here-and-now.

It’s a familiar diagnosis and it has a familiar cure. CCD is just another symptom of the industrialized world’s unsustainable, high-tech, short-term, oil-dependent, profit-directed approach to life and the solution is: “Back to the future.”

Three of the film’s main voices belong to Berkeley’s Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma), India’s Vandana Shiva (author of Stolen Harvest) and Virginia’s Gunter Hauk (author of The Honeybee Crisis).

Pollan describes the horrors of modern agriculture through the lens of California’s Central Valley almond orchards, where bees are enslaved by commercial interests that force-feed them on corn-fructose, ship their hives (wrapped tight in weatherproof plastic) thousands of miles by truck, and release them to labor in fields permeated with pesticides. Shiva paints a worrisome picture of chemical agriculture, which compels bees to negotiate vast rows of identical, genetically modified plants shrouded in envelopes of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. In one stunning stat, the filmmakers note that (unless you’re wearing organic fibers) it took a third of a pound of pesticides to produce the cotton T-shirt you’re wearing.

Hauk, who runs a biodynamic farm with his wife, Vivian, is a hands-on practitioner of the ancient beekeeper’s craft. Humans have been successful beekeepers for more than 10,000 years but it is only with the dawn of the Age of Oil and the invention of “modern” agriculture, that the survival of bees (and polar bears, and tigers, and ancient forests, and fresh water, and clean air, and tolerable climates, and so much more) has been put at risk.

The Hauks have created a 610-acre “honeybee sanctuary” that demonstrates how you can save bees by first saving the land. Rejecting Monsanto’s approach of “solving the hunger crisis” by increasing the use of chemicals and genetically engineered “frankenfoods,” the Hauks are following a different course — healing the land using nature’s slower, but proven, methods (think diversity, organic compost, and natural inputs of seed, sun and water).

While mainstream scientists keep looking for a technological “silver bullet” to “overcome” the problem of collapse (both at the level of the bee and on the scale of an entire planet), the beekeepers, environmentalists and deep-thinkers interviewed in this film have all come to the same conclusion: the solution lies in accepting that we need to abandon our current way of doing things and return to a simpler, more practical, ways of living.

If the world is going to survive, we need to relearn how to (as the cliché has it) “live in balance with nature.” Globally, we need to halt the use of dangerous pesticides (like the neonicotinoidsthat attack a bee’s nervous system). Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food International, minces no words on this issue: “Bayer [which has a production facility right here in Berkeley — GS] is responsible for the use and production of pesticides that kill bees.” In the US, part of the work of restoration should include a campaign to create “bee sanctuaries” in every state. What “the wisdom of the hive” teaches us is that collaboration is natural and powerful. If we hope to save ourselves and our planet, we first need to be prepared to save the bees.

“Queen of the Sun” opens at the Elmwood Theater in Berkeley on April 1

Bee-friendly Resources:

Information on bees and pesticides. Contact the SF-based Pesticide Action Network:

Backyard Beekeeping Class, April 17. Berkeley Ecology Center:

Bay Area Beekeeping Clubs:

An Interview with Vandana Shiva

This video interview is not specifically about the bees; but an interview with Vandana Shiva bears listening to! In the first three minutes, however, she DOES speak about bees and pollinators---

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Bee Cave Spirits, an environmental Machinima film

An Environmental Machinima film based on Willi Paul's modern myth, The Bee Cave Spirits;
( )
Set in a post Distopian society of a not too distant future, this film introduces the cause of bees and their integral value to the Eco-sphere.

Bees in Traditional Culture;
Throughout history in many world cultures a mystical relationship to honeybees can be found.
In the Ancient world the Great Mother was known as the Queen Bee and her priestesses were called Melissae.
They served the Bee Goddesses and functioned as Oracles carrying the golden wisdom of the Goddess to her people.
The Druids of Northern Europe reverenced the bees for their ability to pollinate flowers and crops, which was regarded as a sacred charge because honey was seen as a precious gift from the Mother Goddess herself.
Many Native American Indian tribes also used honey and other bee by-products, including the early Maya and Aztec Indians who kept bees and collected honey from the wild bees.
However the bee population of North America and Europe is now in serious decline, which threatens disaster to our food crops as they are dependent upon the bees to pollinate them.
The increase of commercial agriculture with its use of pesticides and destruction of wild plants and flowers upon which the bees forage upon contributed to this problem.

Introducing Permaulture;
Permaculture, based on ecological and biological principles, is a holistic approach to designing agricultural systems modeled on relationships found in natural ecologies, harmoniously integrating the land with all of its inhabitants.
Bill Mollison launched with his book Permaculture One (1978) an international resurgence of land-use structured on this cooperation with nature.
( )
For more information on Permaculture please follow these links;
( ) ( )

Written and Adapted for machinima by Willi Paul and Celestial Elf.

Filmed at Various Locations including;
The Druids Grove at Maya Island co Conjunctio Magic
Kronbelt co Mecha Innis,
Outland City co pyro Batriani,
Seraph City co Pumpkin Tripsa,
Hinterland Orkney co Tim Mersereu,
The Bee Cave at Auebach Management Incorporatin, Gold co Sienna Panthar,
Infinite T at Mystica co FreeSky Republic.

Psychological Introduction; Celestial Elf. Bee Myth Narration; Willi Paul.

As the Bee Queens; Sienna Panthar & Jazz Doulton,
Bee Queen Costumes; Miss Bee co Ocelot Gears & Bata Dress co Alper Yalin, Neon Skin co Gloom Stoakes & Haik Outfit co Vilandra Miles,
As the Bee Workers & Moon Dancers; Daryion Reinhard, FreeSky Republic, Murriadoc Alter.
Beew Workers Costumes; Lab Coat co Doctor Wolfhunter, Yellow Wellington Boots co Jennylynn Capalini.

Grateful thanks for the following;
Druid Tree provided by Luna Barak
Rustic Speaker Stand, Hay Stacks, Northern Brazier, Moon Dance Pole; provided by Laufey Markstein of Trident
Moon-Dancers Masks provided by bratta Licious.

Also thanks for allowing their use,
Bee Skeps and Honey Extractor co cynful Deeds
Beekeepers Hive co Andi Bekkers
Bee Skep co Angus Highfield
Beehive co Ashade Sinister
Bee Emmitter co Kitiscan Quan
Honeycomb co Juliea Diesel

Original soundtrack created with use of
Copyright Free Music courtesy of
Kevin MacLeod of
( )
licensed under Creative Commons
Black Bird,
Additional Music and Audio effects mixed from samples via

Filmed on SecondLife via Snowglobe 1.4.2.
Made using Frapps, Serif MoviePlus X3 on Windows XP.
Casting Coordinator Sienna Panthar,
Conceived, Directed and Produced by Celestial Elf 2011.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mariposa Nursery : organically grown plants for bees and other pollinators, Santa Rosa

Located in Santa Rosa: 40 years organic practices., specializing in native medicinal habitat plants.

Plant lists available upon request.

Jana Mariposa, horticulturist and owner, available for garden consultations throughout the Bay Area.

Tell the E.P.A.: Ban the pesticide that's killing honey bees/CREDO Action

To Sign the Petition, go to:

Since 2006, U.S. honey bee populations have been in precipitous decline, with some estimates suggesting losses as high as 30% per year.1 While that's terrible, the problem is far greater than just the destruction of a species. Without bees, a big piece of our food supply is in serious danger. Pollination by honey bees is key in cultivating the crops that produce a full one-third of our food.

Scientists have been scrambling to understand the crisis -- termed Colony Collapse Disorder -- but have yet to find a single, definitive cause. There are likely multiple interacting causes, and mounting evidence suggests that one widely used class of pesticides may be a critical factor.

One such chemical, called clothianidin, is produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience. It is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants' pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are some of honey bees' favorite sources of food.

Shockingly, no major independent study has verified the safety of this pesticide. While clothianidin has been used on corn -- the largest crop in the U.S. -- since 2003, it was officially approved by the Environmental Protection Agency last year on the basis of a single study, conducted by Bayer. However, recently leaked documents show that the study was actually debunked by the agency's own scientists, so the pesticide was effectively approved with no scientific backing.2

It is outrageous that the E.P.A. is putting a vital species, the livelihoods of farmers and beekeepers, and our very food supply at risk just so Bayer can peddle its pesticide.

When clothianidin first came to market, there was little or no scientific review of its effect on the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowed "conditional registration" in 2003 but requested additional study to establish the safety of the chemical. Bayer, the producer of the chemical, conducted one such study, and without public notice, the E.P.A. granted unconditional use in early 2010.

But E.P.A. documents3 leaked at the end of last year expose a more sordid story. Agency scientists who reviewed Bayer's study determined that the evidence was by no means sound, and even downgraded the study to a level at which it should not have been allowed as the basis for an unconditional approval of the pesticide.

Additional independent studies have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides like clothianidin are highly toxic to honey bees, providing compelling evidence that they should be immediately taken off the market until the E.P.A. can conduct a full and valid scientific review.

This appears to be a case of the E.P.A. catering to the needs of a large chemical corporation at the expense of a lynchpin species in our ecosystem. France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany -- the home of Bayer -- have already banned clothianidin.

The stakes are simply too high to continue the use of this chemical in the absence of any scientifically verified evidence that it is safe to use. Tell the E.P.A. to immediately prohibit the use of clothianidin and conduct a full scientific review to determine its impact on honey bee populations.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Queen of the Sun, new film on the honey bees: trailer

The film opens up in San Francisco Bay Area and Marin County this weekend, March 25, Lark Theater:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Leading entomologist and bee expert awarded prestigious 2011 Tyler Environmental Prize

May Berenbaum, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, joins a distinguished group of laureates for her groundbreaking work on the science behind the bee population collapse and on the genetics of coevolution between plants and insects

One of the world's leading entomologists and foremost experts on the evolutionary relationship between insects and plants, May R. Berenbaum, PhD, will receive the 2011 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world's first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize is the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy, given to those who confer great benefit upon humankind through environmental restoration and achievement.

"I'm absolutely humbled to receive the Tyler Prize," said Berenbaum, the head of the entomology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "All of my scientific heroes are Tyler Prize alumni."

Previous laureates include Edward O. Wilson, recognized for his early work on the theory of island biogeography; Jane Goodall, selected for her seminal studies on the behavior and ecology of chimpanzees and her impact on wildlife awareness and environmental conservation; Jared Diamond, a renowned author who gave birth to the discipline of conservation biology; and Thomas Lovejoy, a central figure in alerting the world to the critical problem of dwindling tropical forests.

"Professor Berenbaum has done more to advance the field of entomology and explain its significance than nearly any other researcher today," said Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair Owen T. Lind, Professor of Biology, Baylor University. "Her expertise on bees and the causes behind declining bee populations has further positioned her as a leading resource for the media, policymakers and peers."

The Tyler Prize, consisting of a $200,000 cash prize and a gold medal, honors exceptional foresight and dedication in the environmental sciences—qualities that mirror the prescience of the Prize's founders, John and Alice Tyler, who established it while the environmental debate was still in its infancy.

"I was afraid of insects and didn't fall in love with them until college. I placed out of introductory biology and the only course that fit my schedule was 'Terrestrial Arthropods,' and I figured, fear stems from ignorance, so here I go," recalls Berenbaum. "That's one reason I do so much outreach and public understanding because I know what it's like to fear insects."


Berenbaum's groundbreaking research in the field of chemical ecology has led to an understanding of the relationships between insects and the plants on a genetic level. Through a combination of genetic analysis and experimentation, Berenbaum has shown that plants evolve to create natural defenses, like chemical toxins to ward off pests, and that insects in turn evolve to overcome these defenses. Understanding this coevolution, or "arms race," between plants and insects has been fundamental to a better understanding of pesticide resistance, insects and genetically modified crops.

"Someone has got to stick up for the little guy," said Berenbaum. "This world, this planet, would not function without insects. Our lives would be miserable without insects and people don't realize that."

The Decline of Bees

Berenbaum's research has also been central to understanding the decline of bee populations in North America and around the world, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

"Bees serve a unique role as partners to plants because they are pollinators and required for reproduction," explains Berenbaum. "With roughly one third of the US diet dependent on one species of bee for pollination, it's essential to understand what is happening to bees and correct course."

As an author of numerous research studies and articles, and of six books for the general public, Berenbaum has long focused on engaging the public and increasing understanding of insects and the valuable role they play. Her most recent book, a cookbook called Honey, I'm Homemade: Sweet Treats from the Beehive across the Centuries and around the World, aims to inform people about the importance of bees in an interesting and engaging way.


Lecture and Award Ceremony

On Thursday, April 14, at 2 p.m., Berenbaum will deliver a public lecture at the Davidson Conference Center of the University of Southern California, which administers the prize. This is open to the public.

And in a private ceremony, on Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m., the Tyler Prize Executive Committee and the international environmental community will honor Berenbaum at a banquet and ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

About the Tyler Prize

The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement is one of the first international premier awards for environmental science, environmental health and energy.

It was established by the late John and Alice Tyler in 1973 and has been awarded annually to sixty-one individuals and four organizations associated with world-class environmental accomplishments. Recipients encompass the spectrum of environmental concerns including environmental policy, environmental health, air and water pollution, ecosystem disruption and loss of biodiversity, and energy resources.

For more information on the Tyler Prize and its recipients, go to:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The BUZZ: Creating a Bee-Friendly World

Creating an environment that provides shelter and food for pollinators is one of the most rewarding of garden activities. You can do it anywhere – city rooftops, school gardens, a sidewalk strip or your own back yard. For very little effort, you can create beautiful and critical habitat for native bees and abundant forage for honey bees.

Not only will your fruits and vegetables benefit by increase pollination efficiency, but you will be creating a great opportunity for observing bees and other pollinators. Some of my most memorable times in nature have been spent lazily observing bees and butterflies visiting my favorite plants.

You can enhance your existing garden or start something new this year. I invite you to take the “add a yard to your yard” challenge in 2011. Here’s how:

* Select one square yard, (36” x 36” ) to transform into a pollinator garden. Make sure that the site gets ample sunlight and a source of water is nearby.
* Choose plants to fill your square yard that will bloom continuously throughout the season. Diversity is key. Think about three to five plant varieties in bloom at all times. Make sure to include ‘Lemon Queen’ Sunflowers to anchor your planting and observe and report your bee observations.

community gardencommunity garden
* Some other good choices might be California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) ‘Tropical Sunset’, Echinacea (E. purpurea), Bee Balm (Monarda ‘Bergamo Bouquet’), along with cosmos and alyssum. (Here’s photo of last year’s effort in a local community garden, including cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) and a big beautiful clump of a white form of borage. We let the carrots and radishes go to seed, too, for extra pollen and nectar. )
* Like our white borage, most pollinators are attracted to obvious clusters of blooms, so plan to group similar plants together for maximum effect.

Low-cost and beautiful seeds can be found at Renee’s Garden Seeds. Check out their site, and don’t forget to enter the Coupon Code FR225A, so that the Great Sunflower Project will receive a portion of the proceeds to continue our work.

To find out much more information on planting for pollinators, check out the new Xerces Society Guide to “Attracting Native Pollinators.” You can order your copy through our web site at a discounted price.
Once your pollinator garden is in full swing, share your success stories and pics with us!

Here’s to making a difference by creating a more bee-friendly world,

Freddy B

Friday, March 18, 2011

response to Cathleen's letter

Dear Cathleen,

As a fellow beekeeper, I can appreciate your concern for bees, however I cannot support your conclusions about eucalyptus trees and bees: “Cut down all these Eucalyptus trees and the fate of thousands of hives of bees, and thus the continued pollination of our food crops, may be in serious jeopardy.” While I sympathize with your motives, I think this statement is alarmist and not supportable by scientific evidence. On the other hand, the damage caused by eucalyptus trees is compelling and well-documented by scientists. I appreciate you sharing your concerns with other beekeepers in the club. I hope it will encourage all of us to discuss these kinds of issues and concerns with each other and consult with scientists when we’re forming opinions about this and similar topics. Naturally, I support everyone’s right to express views and opinions about bees and the natural environment, but I also think we have a responsibility to try and base our views on as much scientific and expert opinion as possible. Once again, I appreciate the fact that you shared your views with others in the club and I hope it will encourage others to do the same. I also hope that you will be able to hear my comments in the constructive and supportive manner in which I intended.

Craig Merrilees

website on natural beekeeping in top bar hives

The Barefoot Beekeeper is a revolutionary book about 'sustainable', chemical-free beekeeping, showing how it can be simplified and made accessible to all, including people with disabilities, as with this method there is no heavy lifting involved.
The author strips away all unnecessary complication and confusion, demonstrating that 'modern' beekeeping methods are largely to blame for the poor state of health of the honeybee and that the commercialization of beekeeping marked the start of the disease and parasite problems that honeybees have been trying to deal with ever since.

The author advocates small-scale, sustainable beekeeping, with minimal disturbance to the bees and more time spent observing and learning from them. This book shows how you can make everything you need to keep bees yourself, using recycled materials and simple tools: you do not need to buy any additional equipment at all, nor do you need synthetic medications or other chemicals.

This is the companion volume to 'How To Build a Top Bar Hive', which is available as a free, downloadable supplement to The Barefoot Beekeeper.

Some recent comments about The Barefoot Beekeeper:

"The Barefoot Beekeeper is the best book out there as far as I'm concerned for those interested in pursuing sustainable beekeeping." Marty Hardison, USA

"I had been a traditional type beekeeper since the mid 1980's and had been looking around for another way to keep bees as I felt that the ways we were keeping them was neither good for the bees nor the beekeeper. After reading The Barefoot Beekeeper I knew immediately I had found what I had been thinking about and searching for for years. It inspired me to immediately build several Top Bar hives and change my manner of keeping bees. ... read as much as you can about bees and beekeeping but do buy this one and follow it's suggested path." N, Spain

"I have been using and promoting topbar hives for 30 years now. The shape of the topbar hive that I use is a little different ...but I am in full accord with the principles that he outlines. There are a lot of options out there... The Barefoot Beekeeper is the best book out there as far as I'm concerned for those interested in pursuing sustainable beekeeping." MH, USA

"Inspired by this thread, I bought and read the book yesterday. It's a very helpful primer on the main issues and a VERY inspiring discussion of sustainable beekeeping. Some good history and background, as well."

"I also think as an argument for sustainable beekeeping, the writing is unparalleled." G, UK

Letter to Marin "Buzz" from Cathleen Dornison, re: destruction of eucalyptus trees

A few months ago the Point Reyes Light newspaper published a two-part article on statewide plans to eradicate all Eucalyptus trees because they are considered dangerous and non-native to the state. Apparently many agencies throughout the state, from state parks to transit authorities to city and local park maintenance agencies have signed on to this plan.

Originally I wrote a letter to the editor of the paper stating the unmentioned need of local honeybees to utilize the nectar of the Eucalyptus trees to replenish their winter supply of honey at a critical time in the hive due to its rapidly increasing brood.

On January 15th picked up my letter and printed it along with additional information that I think is important for us all to know. Apparently these many agencies use Garlon, with the active ingredient triclopyr, to kill the roots of Eucalyptus trees that have been removed. Garlon is toxic to bees.

As an aside, the Marin Municipal Water District quit using all pesticides in 2005. It hired a consultant who determined that Garlon was the most toxic to honeybees of all the pesticides they had used until that time. Apparently they are seeking approval to start using Roundup again.

Anyway, I could go on listing agencies and how much they use of this chemical, but my point is this: The honeybee is already in serious trouble with CCD. Now we see a move to wipe out a necessary nectar source for bees as well as the release of vast amounts of a pesticide known to be very toxic to them.

It appears the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Perhaps we need to rally the hive owners and honeybee supporters throughout the state to educate the public and these various agencies as to the effects of their potential actions.

As I said in my letter, “Cut down all these Eucalyptus trees and the fate of thousands of hives of bees, and thus the continued pollination of our food crops, may be in serious jeopardy.”

And as stated, “Once again, we can’t make sense of the destructive actions of those who are damaging nature in the name of “restoring” nature.”

Cathleen Dorinson

Pt Reyes Station

Destruction of eucalyptus threatens bees

January 15, 2011

by milliontrees:

The Pt Reyes Light received a Letter to the Editor in response to its series about the destruction of eucalyptus trees. The author of the letter explains that eucalypts are one of the few sources of nectar during the winter, that the nectar is vital to the survival of bees over the winter, and that the bees are essential to California agriculture. The letter was published in the Light on January 6th and is reprinted here with permission:

Think before you cut

Dear Editor,

The recent articles in the Light regarding the Park’s and other’s plans to eradicate eucalyptus from California fail to take into consideration one critical aspect of the need for eucalyptus in the continuation of agriculture in the state.

The common honeybee was introduced to California in the mid-19th century, around the same time as Blue Gum Eucalyptus. Each spring and summer, honeybees gather huge amounts of nectar from flowers and store it in the form of honey so they will have enough food to make it through the winter, when the weather is too cold and rainy and flowers are too few to provide food for the bees.

In autumn, each hive greatly reduces its number of bees in order to survive the winter on the honey they stored. This is done by the queen laying fewer eggs and thus not replacing the bees that naturally die. Hives of 40,000 to 50,000 bees in summer drop to 10,000 bees in winter.

During December and early January, bees hover in a tight cluster, keeping each other warm and living off the stored honey. In early January the Queen again lays eggs in ever-increasing numbers each day; larvae and then newly-hatched bees must be fed huge amounts of honey to support rapid growth. The demand for honey increases exponentially and if honey stores are not enough, the hive can starve to death just before warmer, drier weather and its tons of flowering plants arrives.

But in California we have periods of sunny, warm days, in January and especially February. These allow bees to forage for nectar to supplement depleted stores in their hives and insure their continuation. But what is blooming in January and February, when bees are in desperate need of nectar plants? Acacia, almond, ceonothus, manzanita, mustard, rosemary and some fruit trees bloom for short periods of time, but their small number and smaller sizes do not always guarantee enough blossoms. And any hard rain or wind can destroy whatever blossoms there are.

Eucalyptus, on average 100-feet high and 30 to 50-feet wide, has tens of thousands of nectar-filled blossoms per tree. It blooms throughout California from late January through mid-May, ensuring an abundant supply of nectar for hives at the time of their most critical need.

Prior to the arrival of the honeybee in California, the state population was 1 million people and agriculture consisted of wheat, barley, cattle and sheep, all of which could easily survive without honeybees. Today, with California growing much of the fruits, nuts and vegetables for the U.S., the honeybee is an intricate part of the continuation of agriculture. With the current problem of Colony Collapse Disorder, the fate of the honeybee is already precarious. Cut down all these Eucalyptus trees and the fate of thousands of hives of bees, and thus the continued pollination of our food crops, may be in serious jeopardy. Think before you cut them down.

Cathleen Dorinson, Pt Reyes Station

Eucalyptus and Bee, painting by Brian Stewart
Research on Colony Collapse Disorder has identified reduced supplies of nectar as one of many factors in the failure of about 30% of commercial hives per year in the past few years. Bees, already weakened by chronic exposure to pesticides and reduced food supplies, are unable to recover from the fungi, viruses, and parasites that are rampant in the “global diaspora of organisms.”

Because of the role of pesticides in the death of bees, the eradication of eucalyptus exposes bees to double jeopardy: the loss of a major food source during the winter and exposure to the pesticides that are used to kill the roots of the eucalyptus trees.

Garlon with the active ingredient triclopyr, is the pesticide used by most managers of public lands to kill the roots of the eucalyptus after the trees are cut down. Eucalyptus is a vigorous resprouter. Unless the stump is poisoned immediately with a toxic pesticide, it will return ten-fold after it is cut down, or in the unlikely event that it burns down, or after a freeze deep and long enough to cause the tree to die back.

Garlon is known to be toxic to bees. The Marin Municipal Water District quit using all pesticides on its properties in 2005 in response to public protests. It hired a consultant to evaluate 5 pesticides for potential use in the future. The risk assessment published in 2008 stated that Garlon was the most toxic of the 5 pesticides studied and that it was the most toxic to bees. The Marin Municipal Water District is presently seeking approval to begin using Roundup again. It does not propose to use Garlon.

The so-called Natural Areas Program in San Francisco, which is responsible for the care of approximately 1,000 acres of park land ironically called “natural areas” uses Garlon heavily. About 75% of its pesticide applications (by volume and frequency) are of Garlon. Could this be a factor in the collapse of several beehives recently reported in San Francisco?

The East Bay Regional Park District used 34 gallons of Garlon in 2008. How many more gallons of Garlon will be used by these managers of public lands when they cut down the hundreds of thousands of eucalyptus trees which they have proposed to destroy in their official plans?

Once again, we can’t make sense of the destructive actions of those who are damaging nature in the name of “restoring” nature. In our view, it is a fundamental contradiction.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bee Symposium planned for Sebastopol Saturday

Published By Daily Democrat
Created: 03/14/2011 02:30:32 AM PDT

MacArthur Fellowship recipient Marla Spivak, professor of apiculture at the University of Minnesota, will give two presentations on Saturday, March 19. at the fifth annual Bee Symposium, a benefit for bees.

The all-day event, sponsored by Beekind, takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Sebastopol Veterans' Memorial Hall, 282 S. High St., Sebastopol.

This year's theme is "Medicine from the Hive."

Spivak will speak on "Socialized Medicine in Honey Bee Colonies" in the morning and "Bee Health and Breeding" in the afternoon.

Spivak is the Distinguished McKnight Professor and Extension specialist in apiculture at the University of Minnesota. She developed the Minnesota Hygienic Line.

UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and staff have participated in the Bee Symposium for the past several years. They include Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology; and bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey.

Tickets to the Bee Symposium are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. Proceeds benefit the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation, the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees and Partners for Sustainable Pollination. For more information contact Katia Vincent at or access the web site at

Bee Symposium

SATURDAY, MARCH 19th, 2011 - 9:AM to 5:PM


This symposium will be of great interest to beekeepers, health professionals and the general public.
The 2011 Bee Symposium will be held at the Sebastopol Veteran's Building
There will be morning and afternoon speaker sessions with a noon-time lunch break.
Tickets are 30.00 in advance and 35.00 at the door.

Honey Mantra
Honey at Bed, Sleep all Night,
Honey on Rise, Strong and Wise
Honey on Skin will Body Mend,
Honey is Gift of Love You Send

© 2008,, all rights reserved

Honeybee Praise
Bees on Blossom, Nectar High
Sweetness Flying Through the Sky
Gathered Goodness as She Roams
Nectars, Pollens, Healthy Home

© 2011,, all rights reserved


Fifth Annual Bee Symposium 2011


This years symposium will be held at the Sebastopol Veteran's Building,
March 19th, 2011 from 9:AM to 5:PM
There will be morning and afternoon speaker sessions with a noon-time lunch break.
Tickets are 30.00 in advance and 35.00 at the door PURCHASE TICKET NOW


"Medicinal Use of Raw Honey, Pollen, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Bee Bread & Beeswax"
(Frederique Keller DOM, L.Ac.)
Summary: Definition of Apitherapy: The medicinal and therapeutic use of hive products. Internal and external applications of beehive products utilized for centuries as they intersect with modern research. Discover a medicinal treasure trove from raw honey for allergies, wound healing and digestive disorders to different varieties and therapeutic uses of propolis. Historically, apitherapy was known and practiced as a viable form of treatment for a variety of health problems. From ancient Egyptians to writings of the Koran and the Bible. Medicinal uses continued across Europe where C.W. Wolf of Berlin wrote "Honey Considered as a Therapeutic Agent into the 20th century with Austrian physician Philipp Terc who treated thousands of arthritic patients in the late 1800's. In the 21st century in New York, Charles Mraz, a Vermont beekeeper started treating people with pain and arthritis with bee stings in the 1930's and New York physician Bodog Beck authored the book "The Bible of Bee Venom Therapy".

"The Revolutionary Effects of Honey on Human Metabolism"
Dr. Ron Fessenden)
Summary: Honey is uniquely metabolized in the human and can be differentiated from sucrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup in several ways. These differences result in the direct formation of liver glycogen, the primary fuel reserve for the brain. Honey is high octane brain fuel. No other food can match the yield of liver glycogen produced per gram ingested. One significant health benefit of keeping the liver glycogen reserve "topped off" is the regulation and control of blood sugar, meaning that honey is not only safe for diabetics, but therapeutic. Another benefit is the prevention of and/or the elimination of metabolic stress, a condition responsible for all of the metabolic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, depression, sleep disorders, Alzheimer's Disease, and ADHD in children. Not only does the regular consumption of honey provide these health benefits, it does so without risk, complication or side effects.

"Socialized Medicine in Honey Bee Colonies"
(Dr. Marla Spivak)
Summary: Why do bees collect propolis? Most beekeepers are annoyed by the presence of sticky propolis in a bee colony as it makes hive manipulations difficult. Unlike pollen and nectar, propolis provides no nutritional benefit to the colony, so what do bee collect tree resins and cement them into the nest cavity as propolis? Our research demonstrates that the presence of a "propolis envelope" inside the hive helps the immune system of individual bees, and so is a form of social immunity for the colony. We are also exploring the antimicrobial properties of propolis, using modern analytical methods, to test the activity of different sources of propolis against bee viruses and bee bacterial pathogens. We hope to provide medical researchers with compounds in propolis that can be tested for their activity against human pathogens. Propolis has amazing antimicrobial properties, and has great potential for bee and human health.


"Bee Venom Therapy, Historical Perspective into Modern Applications" (Frederique Keller DOM, L.Ac.)
Summary: This presentation will start with a discussion of the components of bee venom and then focus on the technique and strategy of bee venom therapy, treatment protocols, contraindications and safety issues. This introduction to BVT will provide you with a solid platform for both those with prior experience and also those who are considering bee venom therapy as a treatment alternative for pain management, sports injuries, auto immune disorders, lyme disease, etc. You will be inspired and encouraged to explore all the gifts of the honeybee in a synergistic and balanced approach to share with your friends, family and community.

"How to Sleep Your Way to Better Health with Honey"
(Dr. Ron Fessenden)
Summary: Sleep is a high energy proposition. Failure to fuel the brain for the eight hours of sleep results in catastrophic health consequences when repeated night after night for months or years. Honey is the best, most concentrated fuel for the brain during the night fast. A "dose" of honey before bedtime can prevent or eliminate the primary factor responsible for all of the conditions and diseases known as the metabolic syndrome. Honey before bed will promote restful recovery sleep, immune system enhancements, memory consolidation and learning, and even weight loss. This is one bedtime story you won't want to miss.

"Bee Health and Breeding"
(Dr. Marla Spivak)
Summary: My research strives to help bees help themselves. Bee breeding is a way to enhance bees' natural tendencies to defend themselves against diseases and mite parasites. One natural trait of bees is called "hygienic behavior" in which individual bees detect diseased and parasitized brood and remove the unhealthy brood from the nest. This detection and removal process is analogous to how the immune system works to fight off disease, thus hygienic behavior is a form of social immunity for the colony. We are now working one-on-one with commercial bee breeders in northern California to help them enhance their tried-and-true stocks of bees by selecting for hygienic behavior. The goal is to maintain genetic diversity while improving disease and mite resistance in our bees.

This year, we are proud to present:

Dr. Marla Spivak:
Professor and Extension Specialist in Apiculture, University of MN, USA.
Dr. Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight Professor in Entomology, University of MN, USA. Dr. Spivak developed the Minnesota Hygenic Line and her current research is investigating the benefits of propolis to bees. She is one of this year's recipients of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.

Dr. Frederique Keller:
BeePharm: Apitherapy for Health, is a licensed acupuncturist & medical herbalist who incorporates classical homeopathy and apitherapy, the medical use of honey bee products. She incorporates bee venom therapy into her private practice as well as utilizes all the products of a bee hive including honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee bread. She is president of the American Apitherapy Society and lectures across the United States and the world sharing her knowledge of the healing properties of bees. She has been raising bees for over 20 years.

Dr. Ron Fessenden:
MD, MPH, is the author of "THE HONEY REVOLUTION" and three more books on honey and health which will be published in 2011 and 2012. Dr. Fessenden has been networking and writing about the multitude health benefits of honey for over 4 years. As Co-chairman of the Committee on Honey and Health, Dr. Fessenden put together the first ever symposium on Honey and Human Health in 2008.

The annual bee symposium is put together by a small group of bee folk that want to share knowledge and promote enthusiasm about and for the bees.

Friday, March 4, 2011

bees for

This is an interesting organization that sounds as though it is doing excellent work:

(from their website):

Bees for Development is an independent organisation founded in 1993. We are an information service working at the heart of an international network of people and organisations involved with apiculture in developing countries. The organisation is made up of two partner institutions.

Bees for Development Trust is our charity which raises money with the aim of alleviating poverty by means of beekeeping. The Trust meets its objectives by supporting the work of Bees for Development, the implementing partner.

Bees for Development carries out a range of activities which help beekeepers to do more and better beekeeping, in order to build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families.

Why is there a need for Bees for Development?

We take a global view of beekeeping, especially that carried out by poor and marginalised beekeepers in developing countries. This means we have unique insights into the trends and challenges of this neglected sector and can provide the hub of a valuable sharing and learning network for the beekeeping community.

There are other NGOs who support beekeeping but these NGOs regularly come to us for advice and information, as often beekeeping is a secondary activity for them. National governments in some countries have beekeeping institutions and extension services but gradually these are being closed and eroded through under funding. Beekeeping is difficult to categorise, unlike mainstream agriculture, and is often overlooked as a marginal poor-persons activity not worthy of investment and attention. This is the main impetus for the work of Bees for Development.

Bees for Development is run by experienced professionals operating out of offices in Monmouth, South Wales, UK.