Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day #380 Monoculture Almonds

Last night I attended a screening of the documentary Queen of the Sun. If you get a chance to see it, please take the time. Gorgeous filming of honeybees, fascinating interviews with beekeepers, entomologists, biophysicists, all of whom have deep concerns about what we’re doing to the bees.

I’ve never before seen a monoculture almond farm – 60,000 acres of nothing but almond trees. Never until this film took a camera in a small plane flying over mile after mile of almond trees in military rows. Those trees bloom for two or three weeks once a year. When they’re not blooming, there is NO FOOD on that land for bees. That’s why commercial beekeepers from all over the country load up their hives, several hundred at a time, onto flatbed trucks, and haul them to the California almond farms, killing hundreds of thousands of bees as they go.

What on earth, this movie asks, would be wrong with plowing up an acre of land every so often, scattered throughout the almond farm, and planting wildflowers and clover and herbs? Then install some hives on each of those acres. That way, the bees can live year-round in what is now a virtual desert. Those bees will turn it eventually into a vital oasis. Think of the savings to the almond farmers (and all those other current monoculture crops), if they didn’t have to pay commercial beekeepers from all across the country to stress out their bees by hauling them 20,000 miles in a season.

It’s something to think about.

BEEattitude for Day # 380:
       Blessed are those who let us live in a natural environment, for they shall have safe honey in abundance.


AggiePete said...

I don't understand ... after they haul all the fuzzies there, then what? If the trees only bloom for 2-3 weeks, then what happens to the fuzzies afterward?! That's appalling to say the least. Most disturbing...

Fran Stewart said...

They load them back on to flatbed trailers (using forlifts!)and haul themn to the next place in the country where there is a monoculture crop coming into bloom. Countless colonies die on these trucks or in the holding yards between shipping.

The commercial haulers have to treat the bees using antibiotics, to keep disease from running rampant through the thousands of colonies. Those antibiotics are transferred into the honey they produce. when we eat that kind of honey, we ingest the antibiotics.

And we wonder why so many resistant strains of diseases are deveoloping in the pharmaceutical arena...

Makes you want to start a veggie garden, doesn't it?

AggiePete said...

Believe me, that's just what Bill, Billy, & I are going to do when the weather straightens up here. We've wanted to grow our own for quite some time but this heat spell/drought has ruined it for this year. God love those fuzzies: they need a support group - that's where I would be demonstrating/picketing is for 'the fuzzies rights' !!! Yep, come springtime here in Houston we're going to use our backyard for veggies & maybe some strawberries/other berries!

Fran Stewart said...

Good for you! Send me some pictures!