The Permaculture Podcast

    Caring for Bees

    2018 was terrible for beekeepers, with up to 40 percent of hives across the United States dying off, one of the worst losses since we started tracking honey bee health. Recently, the USDA suspending the Honey Bee Tracking Survey indefinitely. Earlier this year, the bee-harming pesticide sulfoxaflor, sold under the trade names Closer and Transform, which has been banned since 2015, was approved for emergency use across 14 million acres in the United States.

    With these multiple threats for honey bees, and indeed all our insect pollinators, what can we do?


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    Searching for answers and to understand colony collapse disorder and what was killing our bees, in 2013 I reached out to Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp a research scientist with the University of Maryland and former Chief apiarist for Pennsylvania.

    In this re-mastered release of that conversation, Dennis shares what he’s learned investigated bee dies off ever since Dave Hackenberg, a beekeeper with hives in Pennsylvania, first reported large colony losses and coined the term colony collapse disorder in 2006. Dennis shares more about the ongoing loss of bee colonies in the United States and elsewhere, which continues even now, years after this conversation, as well as the role of bees as pollinators in our food supply, and what we can do to support honeybees and native pollinators.

    Find out more about Dr. vanEnglesdorp’s work by watching the TED Talk “A Plea for Bees“.

    Stepping away from this conversation, years later, I still enjoy how precise and technical the conversation became regarding the research and issues surrounding bees, while still remaining accessible. For all of his work and research, I never felt like Dennis spoke over our heads. Part of that, I imagine, come from his love and passion for bees. Listening to him describe the co-evolution of flowers and pollinators reminded me of the beauty of nature, why I love this work, and why each of us should care for a little space of our own so we can build a better world that includes habitat for pollinators and the other species that also call this world home.

    If you have any thoughts on this episode, please leave a comment, or drop something in the post:

    The Permaculture Podcast
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    Until the next time, spend each day making the world a better place while taking care of Earth, your self, and each other.

    Dennis vanEnglesdorp, PhD
    Dennis vanEnglesdorp: A Plea for Bees (TED Talk Video)
    Bee Informed Partnership
    Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae (Research Article)

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