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What’s the New Buzz about Bees?

March 13, 2013

DSC_0059To a very large degree, bees have been taken for granted.  They supply us with honey, which is possibly the most healthful natural sweetener in the world and is also used to manufacture wax for cosmetics, food and medicine. But the age-old harmony between plants and animals may hinge on the behavior of bees and whether they’ll be able to continue.

Propolis, the substance honeybees use to patch holes in their hives is an ancient healing remedy for soothing a sore throat and topical burns and relieving allergies. It has antioxidant and anti-microbial activity. It’s also an analgesic, anesthetic and anti-inflammatory. Bees actually use propolis as a disinfectant themselves and even “embalm” invaders too large to pull out of the hive presumably so that they will not decompose and spread infection.transferg

Unfortunately, the delicate balance nature has provided since time immemorial is collapsing, exposing a threat to the bee population that is becoming increasingly catastrophic. Environmental scientists are concerned that a phenomenon CCD –Colony Collapse Disorder – reflects a far more serious problem than suboptimal pollination, and may be an ominous indicator that the shifts in the ecosystem may lead to a collapse in how we propagate our crops. Bees have busily carried out that task for us for millennia, but unless something changes, farmers may find themselves pollinating their crops by hand.

A number of relatively new issues have caused the change in the health of bee colonies: use of insecticides and pesticides, genetically modified crops pollen containing insecticides, electromagnetic waves emitted by cellphone towers, and high fructose corn syrup used as feed to managed hives. Typical issues of fungi and viruses and malnutrition of the bee population are other issues that can cause a colony to collapse.

Reduction of wild bee populations are already being seen in some areas with drops in some crop yields. Adding honey bees can help, as several local farmers who bring produce to the Wild Ramp Market have discovered when they installed hives.

You can get marvelous honey produced right here in the Tri-State region at the Wild Ramp.  Local apiaries that sell at the Market are Blatts, Killer Bees, and Tyler Creek Farm.


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