Food and Cuisine

Published on May 26th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Have You Considered Keeping Bees?

I just read an interesting piece on Sustainablog titled “Why I Decided to Keep Honeybees” and it was such a thought-provoking read for me I thought I’d share some of it here.

I never would have considered keeping bees (I don’t think) but I have been concerned about the rapid decline of bees in recent years and the author, Ziggy, brings up some interesting thoughts on this and the potential for more dispersed, small-scale beekeeping to (hopefully) help solve this problem.

First of all, if you haven’t heard, the still rather mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has resulted in beekeepers losing 30-90% of their bees for completely unknown reasons in recent years. Think this is no big deal? Approximately 15-30% of human food is pollinated by bees. That throws a little more urgency into this matter, doesn’t it?

Image Credit: Danny Perez Photography Bees are in fast decline. One solution may be more dispersed, home-scale beekeeping operations.

Bees are in fast decline. One solution may be more dispersed, home-scale beekeeping operations.

Bees are a critical part of our food system. And protecting the bees is not just something to do out of altruism (although, altruism is always a great thing). Protecting the bees is important to protecting the food supply of our future generations. How to do this? Well, that’s not completely clear yet, but here’s one idea.

Ziggy writes: “one of the things we can do to help honeybees is to simply start keeping them, and giving them a safe and healthy environment to live in. The benefits for you, the bees, and the environment will be great, in addition to all of the sweet honey and beeswax you will gather. For all of these reasons, I’ve decided to start keeping bees myself, after a friend loaned some spare equipment to me so that I could begin.”

Over 1,000 beekeepers travel across the US with their hives each year to pollinate trees and plants on huge industrial farms. With CCD being much more common in industrial beekeeping, one obvious question is, “Are the loads and loads of pesticides on these industrial farms a major cause of CCD and the rapid collapse of the bees?” Another interesting possibility Ziggy brings up is, “Is monoculture killing bees?”

Whatever the cause, these industrial bee farms are getting wiped out in great percentages and it is becoming clear that industrial beekeeping is not so sustainable. With bees being such a critical part of our ecological and agricultural systems, more efforts to keep bees on a more sustainable scale would do us a ton of good. And who wouldn’t like some delicious “homemade” honey.

Combine beekeeping with a little organic gardening or farming this year and see how it goes.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

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