Brandon. You and the writer of that article you linked to do not understand beekeeping, nor do either one of you understand honey bees. In that article you linked to, there are a tremendous number of factual errors, both about honey bees in general and in the portrayal of beekeeping. But let's focus on honey production and pollination.
Beekeepers take advantage of the honey bee's penchant for producing honey in excess. Often in incredible excess. Just like when one removes cucumbers from a cucumber vine, we take advantage of that plant producing cucumbers in excess. Ideally, one does not remove every cucumber from every vine on the planet and then eats them. If we did, there would be no more cucumbers.
Similarly, a sustainable beekeeper doesn't remove all the honey from a beehive. It's not in the best interest of the beekeeper nor the honey bee. The vast majority of honey produced in a year -- estimates run to roughly 90% -- is consumed by the bees. Beekeepers are skimming off the top.
Similarly, one does not crush up every agave plant to produce agave "nectar" (it's not a nectar). Additionally, honey is a vastly more sustainable (green) than agave "nectar" by orders of magnitude. I digress.
Do we need honey bees for food production? Yes, assuming we want to feed ourselves. The planet is overrun with humans, that is true, but that is a separate topic. Until we dramatically reduce the human population, we need bees.
Cucumbers by the way, need roughly 12 visits (per cucumber) by a pollinator. To feed our population, that pollinator is a honey bee.
One looming issue I see is farmer honesty. Small farmers, in a pinch, can buy from somewhere else, resell and claim it is their own. Most are honest, of course, but there is currently *zero* way to watchdog this. Hence, the food you get, even at a farmers market, may not be what you think it is.
Example, I am a beekeeper. I know a number of beekeepers in the area that simply purchase honey in bulk and resell it as their own, and even worse yet, as "local." I always wondered how certain beekeepers sold all the way through winter... until I found out that one of the most prominent in our area has not extracted his own in many many years.
This particular case is a distribution policing issue, IMHO. But, I don't see an easy way to police it. Maybe a hotline that would lead to an investigation. I suspect though, considering the manpower available, this will not be addressed any time soon... unless people get sick. Even then...
Indy Week • 302 E. Pettigrew St., Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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