Honeybees are devoted to their colonies and hives. These invaluable animals—on which more than 90 food crops rely for pollination—exemplify a familial approach, each working for the good of the whole.
Since we last reported on honeybees and the crisis they currently face, referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the threat of their severe endangerment has remained. A recent survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America revealed nationwide losses in honeybee hives of more than 36 percent between September 2008 and March 2008, compared to a 31 percent loss in the previous year.
Nevertheless, trends today show the possibility of a renewed healthy state for the bees and, with them, all of nature. “There’s been more funding toward research; many beekeepers are no longer feeding their bees with [malnutritious] corn syrup; and dangerous insecticides known as neonicotinoids have been banned in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia,” observes Maryam Henein, co-director of “Vanishing of the Bees,” an independent film scheduled to debut in mid-2009. While the precise causes of CCD remain a mystery, Henein has witnessed these changes over the two years she and her team have devoted themselves to highlighting the essential nature of bees and exploring the world’s agricultural landscape. “Commercial beekeeping will change as the years go by,” she adds. “We need to begin growing bee-friendly plants and supporting local farmers.”
One such farmer, Gunther Hauk, is founder of Spikenard Farm in central Illinois. This 560-acre fledgling farm and bee sanctuary, in transition from conventional to Biodynamic® agriculture, is working to reverse the worldwide trend toward bee loss, thereby caring for the earth. “This is a safe haven for bees,” says Henein referring to this place she sees as an inspiration for others. “Spikenard ensures their bees are happy by planting many wild flowers and veggies that bloom during different times of the year so that there is always plenty of forage [food] available for them.”
While surrounded by neighboring fields planted with genetically modified corn and soy (see p14 for more on GMOs), Hauk is diligent about protecting his bees. Since beginning his efforts a year ago, the number of hives has doubled (thanks in part to our we readers, who helped adopt hives for their farm). “Our bee forage
fields have been planted and are untreated with herbicides, and in the greenhouse I started about 2,000 perennial forage plants such as motherwort, anise hyssop, catnip and Russian sage so that the bees do not need to fly to neighboring GMO fields for food,” reports Hauk.
By working with nature and all its beauty, the bees can be saved. Hauk and Henein give hope, showing that the honeybee cannot only be kept alive but can also thrive.