Statistics speak very loudly, especially those gathered over the past forty years. In the recent decades of the 1960s and 1970s, waves of massive death rates of bee colonies were reported in Europe. During the next decade, the varroa mite, imported from the Far East, claimed an increasing number of hives, and beekeepers lost between half to two-thirds (and in some cases all) of their colonies in a single year! The same pattern repeated itself in America a few years later. In 1996 the newspapers reported that approximately sixty percent of the honeybees in the United States had been lost; some states showed losses up to ninety percent. Expressed in numbers, that means a decrease of colonies from seven million to two-and-a-half million! With an average colony numbering 40,000 worker bees in the summer, this loss has quite an impact on many facets of nature in addition to the activity of pollination. The recent Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has raised the flag from orange to red; another wave of heavy losses has reached us and we are importing thousands of nucleus colonies from Australia to guarantee the almond and citrus fruit pollination in California.
Other health problems continue to plague the bee population; not only varroa mites, but also tracheal mites, foulbrood, intestinal illness (nosema), the small African hive beetle and all kinds of bacteria and viruses have been working on decimating the bee colonies.
What is the cause?
We have heard from the scientific community that the population of honeybees has been adversely affected by:
- Neurotoxic pesticides
- Mites & viruses
- Mono-crop agribusiness
- Migratory honeybeekeeping
We believe that the present loss in vitality and reduced capability of survival of the honeybee is not only caused by conventional agricultural practices with their monocultures and poisons, but also by our attempt of making beekeeping as profitable as possible which has driven and shaped our practices for over 100 years, including:
- Artificial queen breeding
- Recycled wax or plastic foundations
- Feeding sugar/corn syrup in large quantities
- Exploitive honey harvests
- Swarm prevention
- Migratory beekeeping
Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary appears in