When going to the Jack London with friends, especially one friend that has a crazy obsession about bees (she stares at them during the day by her neighbor’s flowers), I saw Brian Lacy of LiveHoneyBees present informally to an audience in the dark, but colorfully lit basement of the bar.
I learned that honeybees are important. News flash, people have been watching movies and hearing all about the disappearance of these bees – and how that may be a signal the end of the world is near. However, Lacy said that people tending to honeybees in their backyards is one of the most important actions one can do. Why? Because a lot of the honeybees throughout the world are getting taken to pollinate commercial farming. One example was about almond farming. Apparently people take the honeybee hives from places around the world to commercial almond farms and give high fructose sugar to the honeybees so they can operate at crazy speeds to pollinate the almonds. Not to mention that the bees are ONLY pollinating one type of plant. After the bees have pollinated a crop, they are then taken to the next crop. And, the assumption is that they are left to die after all that use and abuse to get the commercial crops fruiting.
Another thing I learned is that the bees are running out of food due to global warming changing the timing of seasons. The honeybees collect a certain amount of honey for winter, and then begin a certain month (I think February?) to begin feeding this honey to the hive / the little bees growing. However, due to wetter winters, the production of food and honey is much later, and the hive may completely fail due to starvation. Brian Lacy says that when he observes that happening, he sections off part of the honeybees and uses that section for the medicinal purpose of bee stings (which, includes helping with arthritis among other things). He does this to save the rest of the hive from starving and having a happy queen.
Now let’s talk about queens. The queen lives for about 2-3 seasons. The hive wants a queen that is healthy and able to mate with multiple drones, so that way she can have genetically diverse offspring.
After the talk, Brian asked is anyone would like to partake in a bee activity. It consisted of a song he composed and bee costumes (queen, drone and worker bees). I was a drone and pranced around while the lyrics were sung about all the characters. It was a fun activity to be drone in a bar, but I could also see it being done in different ways for more educational venues.
I’m convinced after seeing this that honeybees are where it’s at. So, in a year or so, I will be contacting this Brian at LiveHoneyBees.com to begin figuring out how these hives work to start pollinating the neighborhoods. Plus, I forgot to mention, I do love bees.
So why honeybees instead of chickens in the world of Portlandia and elsewhere? Don’t get me wrong, I love some farm fresh eggs and those feathery little bobbing critters running around, but the amount of literal sh%* that chickens produce in someone’s backyard in overwhelming (Do we reeeally need to check the patio furniture again?!). With bees (and this is coming from a novice having listened to a lecture in a bar) is they provide honey, which is scrumptious and helps with allergies – and it also helps with pollinating the surrounding the region. Pollination helps the world go round, and I’m all about that.
But not Yellow Jackets – those things are carnivorous *&!$ that are actually wasps and once they sting you will leave a chemical signature and chase you for a good long while. Until next time. Bzzz.
Here is a first time sumi sketch of those lovely honeybees: