Thursday, September 27, 2007

To (Honey) Bee or Not to Bee?

Okay, maybe it's because I always wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up (until I realized that my lowly math skills and lack of courage might pose a problem), but I am really into bee keeping gear. I mean, how great is that wild netted helmet, to say nothing of the "smoker" you get to carry around? Maybe I'm just a Tin Man fetishist. Man, I really wish it was socially acceptable to keep a bee hive on a New York fire escape.

You'll remember I linked to an article about the major bee die-off that's been affecting honey production as well as almond pollination a few weeks ago. Today's Times has an interesting piece about heritage bee species and dilettante beekeeping. As I've mentioned previously, one of the main reasons to support local, sustainable agriculture is that it allows for a wider variety of plant and animal breeds to remain in circulation, whereas commodity farming tends to focus on one or two species. The danger in narrowing a whole range of breeds down to one or two varieties is that an illness or environmental change can wipe out the whole lot (not to mention we lose out on the wide variety of flavors that a full spectrum offers) . And that's exactly what happened in the case of the bees. We really need to focus on supporting the farmers who practice diversity, so that we'll have something to fall back on when problems arise.

No comments: