Sunday, August 10, 2014
Queen of the Sun
A lovely person named Betsy Valle recommended a documentary video to me. It's called, Queen of the Sun. This video is about some wonderful humans, who work with bees and have a profound affection for them. It's also about industrial agriculture and the devastating impact it is having on bees.
I met Betsy Valle, who lives in North Portland, through Paul Maresh and Pam Allee, two people who are seriously involved in urban bee husbandry. Paul has some of his bee hives in Betsy's yard, which is covered with plants and flowers that are good for bees.
When I visited Betsy Valle's yard with Paul, I was struck by the nature of the bees when Paul was present. They were calm, as if they knew him and recognized him as a 'friendly' presence. Though a hive can have as many as 60,000 bees, they all seem to be connected and work together as one organism.
Bees are incredibly important to the health of the biosphere. They are responsible for pollinating 40% or more of the plants we depend on for food. Healthy bees are a reflection of a healthy environment.
Unfortunately, bees are in big trouble these days. A phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder is reflected in huge numbers of bee colonies dying off. There are a number of factors that contribute to colony collapse. Mass market industrial agriculture has led to massive monocultures like the almond crop in California. Growing a single crop like almonds to the exclusion of all other plants means that bees starve, when the almonds are not in bloom.
Even worse is the impact of pesticides and herbicides. A class of these poisons called neonicotinoids are chemical nerve agents that can kill bees outright in high enough concentration. Even in low concentration , they disrupt bee immune and nervous system function. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature reviewed 800 scientific studies that looked at the impact of neonicotinoid ag chemicals on pollinators and found the link to be 'incontrovertible'.
Queen of the Sun reveals the wonderful synergy that links organic beekeepers with their bees. It also shows what the bees are up against. The picture is not pretty, but clearly all is not lost. Many people around the world are working to protect bees.
I met Paul, Pam, and Betsy, all of whom are champions for bees, because I am preparing to produce a brief outreach video for Move to Amend, that uses a beekeeper's perspective to make the case that the future of bees and the biosphere in general depends on stripping bankers, bad billionaires, and business tycoons of their undue influence over our political process.
We know that pesticides and herbicides are a very significant factor in bee colony collapse. Our government is the place we citizens must look to for a credible response to these chemical poisons. That is not happening because the gigantic multinational corporate interests behind these ag chemicals are using their wealth and influence to obfuscate the truth and resist changes in government policy that would help bees but threaten their billions in poisonous profits.
My wife and I are going to look into putting a bee hive or two in our backyard. I am also recommending Queen of the Sun as a wonderful way to spend 90 minutes to anyone who hasn't already seen it. And, I am looking forward to completing my Move to Amend Outreach video, Beekeeper's Logic.
Finally, I want to thank my new friends, Paul, Pam, and Betsy, for championing bees and for being all around good souls.
Here is a link to a video trailer for Queen of the Sun... http://www.queenofthesun.com/